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article imageInterview with Niki Bakogianni: 1996 Olympic silver medalist Special

By Markos Papadatos     Sep 24, 2016 in Sports
1996 Olympic silver medalist and Greek high jumper Niki Bakogianni chatted with me about her latest endeavors, and her silver medal win for Greece.
At the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, Bakogianni took home the silver medal, where she was able to jump 2.03 meters in the women's high jump final, in an intense match with world record holder Stefka Kostadinova, who won the gold. 'Back then, I competed with the main goal of going into the finals. Once I achieved that, I wanted to get in the Top 6. I knew that I was in top-notch form, since I was near the two meter mark, and my goal was to surpass the two meters, since I know that it could perhaps give me an Olympic medal," she said.
The acclaimed high jumper revealed that her personal best going into those Olympic Games was 1.98 meters, and during the Atlanta finals, she was able to set three national records for Greece, with jumps at 1.99 meters, 2.01 meters and 2.03 meters respectively. The entire women's high jump final at the 1996 Olympic Games may be seen here.
To this day, her national record of 2.03 meters, still stands in Greece, more than two decades later. "It is extremely hard for one to surpass the two meters," she admitted. "The two meter mark is indeed a barrier that challenges many athletes. If one is able to go over the two meters, then that athlete may be able to go higher."
Another proud moment for Bakogianni was winning a silver medal at the European Indoor Championships in Stockholm in 1996 with a jump of 1.96 meters. "Basically, 1996 was an important year for me, since in all the games that I participated, I had great achievements," she said.
On the Greek-American community, she said, "Wherever Greeks are in the world, I feel that they love Greece. They have a deep appreciation for Greece. I hope wherever they are, that they are progressing, especially the Greeks in America. I hope they don't forget where they came from, and I hope they instill their values in their children. We need to be proud that we came from Greece, a country that is rich in philosophy and history."
Bakogianni is still actively involved with track and field, and she shared that she will be coaching kids from young ages in the sport.
For aspiring track and field athletes, she said, "First and foremost, you need to love athletics. From there on, for somebody to do high jump, one needs to have a certain character. It is a mental and technical sport, and it needs some distinct qualities such as persistence, patience, will power and determination."
Bakogianni defined the word success as "setting a goal, and subsequently achieving that goal."
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