Greek flag passes from father to daughter
Time-honoured Olympic tradition dictates that, at the Opening Ceremony, the delegations enter the stadium in alphabetical order (which, at Sochi 2014, will be according to the Cyrillic alphabet).
However, there are always two exceptions to that rule: Greece is always the first delegation in the Parade of Athletes, in deference to the origins of the Olympic Games; while the national delegation of the host nation always makes its entrance last.
So on 7 February, the very first athlete to enter the Fisht Olympic Stadium, will be cross-country skier Panagiota Tsakiri, the flag bearer for the seven-strong Greek delegation. In doing so she will be maintaining a proud family tradition, and one that will stir emotional memories for her father, Athanassios.
Athanassios Tsakiris himself competed in five editions of the Olympic Games (1988, 1992, 1994, 1998 and 2010) in biathlon and cross-country, and he too was chosen to be Greece’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony at Vancouver 2010. Remarkably, at that same edition he actually competed along side his daughter in the Greek biathlon team, an experience he cherishes to this day.
"Participating with your child at Olympic Games is an amazing feeling, the ultimate reward,” recalled Tsakiris Senior.
Now, four years on he is passing the blue-and-white flag of Greece to his daughter Panagiota, for whom Sochi 2014 will represent a third appearance at the Olympic Winter Games. She made her debut in the biathlon, aged just 15, at Turin 2006.
Now she is relishing the prospect of being the first athlete to step into the Olympic Stadium on Friday.
“I'll have the privilege to be flag bearer at Sochi,” says the younger member of the Tsakiris family, looking ahead to the Opening Ceremony.
“It will be a unique moment, one I can't wait to enjoy, a dream come true. I feel very lucky because despite being only 24 years old, I've already lived through some great moments that sport and the Olympic Games can provide.”