The Greek Olympic Committee (HOC) said Thursday that budget cuts to the program could lead to the “disintegration of Greek sport” as soon as the new year after an 80 percent cut is put into effect in 2013.
“Greek sport will simply disappear unless the plans are revised,” HOC vice president Sakis Vassiliadis said. “We feel we have the obligation to our athletes, coaches, staff and more importantly young aspiring athletes to try and change the situation and that is what we are doing with our proposals.”
According to the HOC, which referred to the cuts as a “brutal attack,” the sports federations will begin to shut down unless proposals that include a request of $76 million in funding from state-run betting company OPAP, $11 million from staff reductions, and a $25 million grant for the federations are accepted.
The cuts are a surprise to no one due to the economic crisis that Greece has faced in recent years. The national sports budget has been cut by 50 percent year-over-year since 2010 and the sports federation has ceased operations twice in twelve months to protest the enormous cutbacks they’ve faced since 2008.
“At Beijing in 2008 we had 156 athletes, at London 2012 there were 103,” Vassiliadis told Reuters. “I fear we could see as few as 25 in Rio if the situation is not changed.”
Steve Langton, who was described by driver Steven Holcomb as the “best push athlete in the world,” announced his retirement today.
A collegiate sprinter and jumper at Northeastern University, Langton decided to try bobsledding after watching the 2006 Winter Olympics. He filled out an online athlete resume, and, by the 2010 Games, he was an Olympian.
At the Sochi 2014 Games, Langton teamed with Holcomb to win a bronze medal in the two-man race. It was the first Olympic medal in the event by American sled since 1952. He claimed another bronze medal as a member of Holcomb’s four-man “Night Train.”
“In Sochi I competed on the world’s biggest stage, I won two medals for my country and I did so along not only the best teammates but best friends anyone could ever ask for,” Langton told USA Bobsled.
Langton, who has a 62-inch standing box jump and can squat more than 500 pounds, was described by Men’s Health as “the most powerful winter Olympian” in the lead-up to 2014 Games.
“[Langton’s] work ethic and discipline rubbed off on the other athletes and made everyone better,” said USA Bobsled & Skeleton Chief Executive Officer Darrin Steele. “I have no doubt that he’ll find success in the next chapter of his life as well.”
Langton appeared on “The Amazing Race” in 2015 with his girlfriend, Aly Dudek, an Olympic short track speedskater.
None of the push athletes on the current U.S. roster have Olympic experience. Holcomb will compete in the World Cup opener this Saturday with Sam McGuffie, a former University of Michigan football player. The race will be McGuffie’s World Cup debut.