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Summer Olympics History: Greece's Top Olympians

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Greece at the Summer Olympics

The first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens, Greece in 1896. Not surprisingly, considering the individual costs incurred prior to the concept of national teams, as well as the transportation difficulties of the day, many of the best athletes were not present for the inaugural Summer Games.

Despite many problems with organizing and conducting the Games, the 10-day competition was deemed successful, and helped establish the Summer Olympic Games as the world's preeminent sporting event.

Greece saw its athletes win 46 medals, with 10 golds, in 1896, a medal tally unequalled by the country to the present.

The best performance for Greece since then was in 2004 when Athens played host to the world once again. Greece's medal haul in '04 was 16 medals, and among them were six golds.

The following list includes brief information on the ten men and women that I consider the best for Greece at the Summer Olympic Games:

Sofia Bekatorou: Bekatorou was one of the world's best in sailing last decade. Her achievements at the Olympics include two medals, with a gold in the 470 class in 2004.

Pyrros Dimas: Dimas ranks as one of the greatest competitive weightlifters of all time. He won three consecutive Olympic golds between 1992-2000, and capped off his illustrious career with bronze at home in 2004.

Ioannis Georgiadis: Georgiadis was a star of the fencing competition at the 1896 Olympics, winning gold in the Sabre. He also captured the title in Sabre at the 1906 Intercalated Games.

Ilias Iliadis: Iliadis ranks as one of the world's elite judoka, and possesses two World Judo Championships titles. At the Olympics, he earned gold in 2004 while still a teenager, and got a bronze for his efforts at this year's London Games.

Nikolaos Kaklamanakis: Kaklamanakis was a standout in sailing for a decade from the mid-1990s. In his Olympic career, he tallied a pair of medals, including the Windsurfing-Mistral gold at the Atlanta Games.

Spyridon Louis: Louis became a national hero by capturing the inaugural marathon title in 1896. His first-place finish in the grueling race was the only individual title in athletics for Greece.

Alexandros Nikolaidis: Nikolaidis had a long, stellar career in taekwondo. He won a pair of Olympic silver medals between the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.

Leonidas Sabanis: Another top weightlifter for Greece at recent Olympics, Sabanis captured back-to-back silver medals at the 1996 and 2000 Summer Games.

Dimosthenis Tampakos: A star gymnast last decade, Tampakos specialized in the brutal Rings event. He won the Rings silver in 2000, and then thrilled the home crowd four years later with gold.

Konstantinos Tsiklitiras: Tsiklitiras was an elite jumper a century ago. He earned a pair of silvers at the 1908 Olympics behind the legendary American performer, Ray Ewry. He then went on to secure two more medals in 1912 at the Stockholm Games, with his best finish the gold in the standing long jump.

Patrick Hattman covered the London Games for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He is already looking forward to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

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