Michalis Kalomiris is a lawyer and amateur marathoner from Greece and in May he was reading a track and field website about athletes who will compete in the Rio Olympics when he came across something he did not expect: his own name.
It turns out that Kalomiris had unknowingly qualified for the Olympics 14 months earlier thanks to a loophole, according to Yiannis Papadopoulos of the Greek publication E
“He couldn’t believe his eyes. He looked at the list again to make sure he wasn’t mistaken. But there it was, his name among the runners who qualified for the marathon at the Rio Olympics this summer.”
Kalomiris, who trains before and after work at a firm in Athens, had run the 2015 Rome Marathon in 2 hours, 29 minutes, 30 seconds. That is 10.5 minutes slower than the required qualification time of 2:19:00 needed for the Rio Olympics. However, according to the report, International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) rules also allow somebody to qualify if they finish in the top 10 of a “Gold Label” event, a race that includes at least five “elite”-level runners in both the men’s and women’s divisions.
The Rome Marathon was indeed a Gold Label event and Kalomiris finished eighth.
Not surprisingly, Papadopoulos writes that a “small war” broke out in the Greek running community over Kalomiris’ inclusion on the Greek Olympic team, noting that “some thought the decision unfair, arguing that there are faster marathoners in Greece (Kalomiris finished fifth in the National Marathon Championship).”
Yes, you always want the best athletes competing at the highest levels in the Olympics. But stories about athletes like Kalomiris, who describes himself as an “amateur training at sub-elite level,” are often just as important and are a big part of what makes the Olympics so great.
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