When one thinks of sports in Greece, the first thought that comes to mind is Olympics. It is, after all, the country where the Olympics originated and is one of the five countries that have participated in all the Summer Olympics since they were first introduced in 1896.
Sports are still an integral aspect of the country’s culture, and in recent years, the country has received international recognition and regard in multiple sports disciplines. Moreover, Greek athletes have won numerous international titles and accolades in various fields.
In this article, we look at some of Greece’s most popular sports disciplines.
Football In Greece
Football is the most popular team sport in Greece. Although the days of glory for the sport may now be a thing of the past, it still enjoys a massive fan following throughout the country.
The national football governing body was formed in 1926; however, the national team only became internationally prominent after their performance in the UEFA Euro 2004, where the team won the championship.
The national football team appeared in an international tournament for the first time in 1980 when it participated in the UEFA Euro 1980. The team qualified thrice for the FIFA World Cup in 1994, 2010, and 2014. The team reached a round of 16 in 2014. It has appeared in the UEFA European Championship four times in 1980, 2004, 2008, and 2012.
During that time, the team enjoyed a high global ranking, but currently, it is in 52nd place in the FIFA ranking.
At the domestic level, the Super League Greece is the highest professional football league in the country. It is currently the 12 highest league in UEFA and was at the top between 1996 to 2006. The league was established in 1927 and currently has 14 teams. It follows a relegation and promotion system with Super League Greece 2.
Basketball In Greece
The next sport on our list is basketball. Greece is a powerhouse when it comes to basketball. Greece was one of the founding members of FIBA, and its national basketball team is one of the best in the world, currently ranking at number 9 in FIBA.
The national team won a silver medal at the FIBA World Championship in 2006 after beating the US. The team won the European Championship twice, in 1987 and 2005. It also won a silver medal at the EuroBasket in 1989 and two bronze medals in 1949 and 2009, respectively. The national team has also dominated at the Olympics in multiple instances.
Greece also has a basketball league system! The Greek Basket League is the top professional basketball league and one of the finest in the region. Many Greek basketball clubs have won several European titles over the years. Many Greek men and women basketball players have also played in the NBA as well.
The basketball matches of the national team and the clubs are huge crowd pullers and have spectatorship in many thousands.
Water Polo In Greece
Water Polo is not only popular in Greece but is also a discipline the Greeks thrive at. Whether men or women, the national teams and clubs have won various international competitions. The men’s national team won a silver medal at the FINA World Cup in 1997, while the women’s national team won a gold medal at the World Aquatic Championship in 2011
The country has also excelled at other international competitions, including the FINA World League, World Aquatic Championships, and the Olympics. Greek men’s and women’s water polo leagues are some of the finest in Europe. One of the most successful clubs is the Olympiacos which has won several championships. It won two LEN Champions Leagues in 2002 and 2018.
Weightlifting In Greece
If we consider individual sports, weightlifting is the most popular and most successful sport in Greece. The national team is one of the strongest in the world, having won gold several times in the Olympics and other international competitions.
Over the years, Greek weightlifters have won 15 Olympic medals, including 6 gold medals, 5 silver medals, and 4 bronze medals. The athletes have won around 111 medals at the World Weightlifting Championships. The country was at the forefront in the mid-1990s and held many records at internal contests and the Olympics.
Some of the most renowned weightlifters in the history of Greece include Pyrros Dimas, a three times Olympic Champion; Kakhi Kakhiashvili, the winner of three consecutive gold medals and Dimitrios Tofalos, the greatest weightlifter of the twentieth century.
Wrestling In Greece
The last sport on our list is wrestling. The present prevalent form of wrestling today is freestyle and Greco-Roman, which originated in the land of the Ancient Greeks. In modern times, wrestling has emerged as one of the most important Olympic sports in the country.
Greek wrestlers have numerous medals in international championships, including 11 medals in the Olympics. Some of the most renowned Greek wrestlers in history include Stelio Mygiakis, the gold medallist for Greco-Roman wrestling in the Olympics in 1980, and Petros Galaktopoulos, the winner of numerous medals at the Olympics and FILA Wrestling Championships in 1968 and 1972.