The Fifth Modern Nemead
Emblem of the fifth modern Nemead.
Preparations for the Fifth Nemead were much more onerous than in the past, because, in addition to the tunnel conservation and drainage repairs (Press Releases #7 and #11), there was needed a tremendous amount of maintenance work in the stadium after many years of neglect. The following pictures will give a small glimpse of what was involved which included the removal of 35 truck loads of pruning and brush clearing.
1 Bench at the southwest rim of the stadium. One of the few still in reasonably sound repair, but with no view of the track
2 The same view as #1 two months later, with the track and the starting line now visible.
3 Rotten bench on the eastern rim of the stadium, with the track all but invisible.
4 The same view as #3 two months later with a new bench and the track visible; note the girl in the red shirt walking down the track.
5 The altar of the Nemean Games in the Stadium had been thrown down and two of the three sides broken, and the Society’s insignia stolen.
6 With the sides repaired, a new fire-resistant top, and the insignia restored, the altar was ready in time for the games.
7 More typical of preparations for the games at every Nemead was the sweeping and watering of the floor of the track which was done by dozens of volunteers from the Society on two successive Saturdays working with brooms donated by a local merchant, Tasos Barlias. Bare feet were grateful.
8 On Monday before the games, a crew was organized by Ioannes Derdenes, a local contractor, to erect the scaffolding that would protect the ancient columns of the locker room, and provide hanging places for clothes, etc.
9 On Wednesday, it was time to raise the tent over the locker room, only to discover that repairs were needed. Here three of the volunteers, Christos Karyotis, Ioannis Nakis and his father Kostas at the point of the damage discovery.
10 A trip to the store for thread and needle, and the skill of the Nakis family, was required to have the tent ready for erection.
11 As usual, many hands are needed in a co-ordinated effort to get the tent over the scaffolding, and there is the knowledge that as time passes the wind will grow stronger.
12 Finally the tent is up, although the guys need adjustment as the wind pushes and pulls the canvas.
13 Thursday sees the final preparations for the actual races, first with the setting up of the hysplex starting mechanism. A number of volunteers come to learn the machinery, a good sign that the tradition will continue.
14 Other volunteers paint the lane lines on the stadium floor, using brushes provided by another merchant, Christos Korakas.
15 Scaffolding has been set at the north, open, end of the track and the time has come to erect the flags of the different countries represented at the Fifth Nemead.
16 The final result provides a colorful backdrop for the games, and a reminder of the increasing international awareness of Nemea.
17 Another crew of volunteers finds and gathers wild celery for the crowns of victory. This will be refrigerated for the next day until the time of the actual crowning comes on Saturday.
18 By Thursday night the locker room is replete with equipment, including the palms of victory that each winner will receive. The Games are about to begin.
19 Friday, June 22, “Nemea” (Pelagia Tarnanidou) at home in the Temple of Nemean Zeus.
20 Herald in blue (Spyros Kyriakos) announces the arrival of “Ekecheiria” (Sacred Truce - Vali Koraka), led by a guide (Yiannis Katsabas), and accompanied by three Spondophoroi (Truce Bearers - Elias Panousopoulos, Panos Papagianaokopoulos, Thanasis Gatsinos).
21 Ekecheiria crowns Nemea.
22 Nemea lights a torch at a tripod cauldron on the site of the ancient Altar of Nemean Zeus while the Mastigophoroi (switch-bearers - Demetra Chania and Georgios Nikitakos) watch over her.
23 Nemea, accompanied by Ekecheiria, sets out with the flame toward the Stadium.
24 As the flame passes by, soprano Jelena Jovanovic-Bakopoulou sings the “Ode to Nemea” by Georgios Kostouros:
Nemean Earth of Zeus the pasture
Of Bacchus the sacred vineland
The mist of myth envelopes you
Great honor and repute belong to you.
Poets celebrate your sacred grove
Spreading the fame of the sacred spot
They braid encomia for your victors
That send your splendor around the world
Nemea honored daughter of the Asopos
Valley of the unfortunate Opheltes
The Nemean Games are a wonder
That engraves your fame upon the future
Nemean Earth lair of Herakles
Whoever knows you knows well
The idea of the Nemean Games
Marks out a important journey
You have become a crossroads of cultures
Protected by unwritten laws
Left by all the victors in Nemea
Nemea of the fabled Games
Birthplace of ancestral heroes
First daughter of the Asopos
Lady of the vineyards, revered mother.
Nemean Earth, fatherland of the lion,
You give vision and hope to the world
The Nemean Games light up the heavens
and blaze trails of brotherhood
Nemean Earth, fatherland of the lion,
Charming first-born of Asopos
Celebrated pasture of Zeus
Excellent vineland of Bacchus.
Nemean Earth, pride of Herakles
Rare cellar of red wine
Valley of the Nemean Games
Compass of your journey to Myth
Nemea, rich seed of vineyard
Fertile mother of inspired mortals
Loveable beloved hearth
That waits to welcome guests.
Nemean Earth, inspiration of the first
And inextinguishable loves of life
Birthplace of the beauty of the Games
Adornment, ornament, of the centuries.
25 As Nemea and Ekecheiria and the flame pass by a corps of soldiers, spears are laid down and shields rested as a sign of respect for the Truce. (Ekecheiria means the “restraining of arms”.)
26 The procession halts at the end of the newly restored tunnel . . .
27 . . . which is still closed to the public.
28 Now it will be opened as the ribbon is cut by Aikaterina Tzitzikosta, President of the Hellenic National Committee of UNESCO, and George Agourides of the Niarchos Foundation which provided the single largest gift in support of the tunnel conservation. They are led by Maria Christara (granddaughter of a member of the Board of the Society), and followed by Theodore Papalexopoulos, the President of Opheltes (see Press Release #11) and a constant friend of Nemea.
29 The procession enters the tunnel . . .
30 . . . . and the flame is carried by Nemea as the first to pass through.
31 The flame is now lighted on the altar and the regional governor, Petros Tatoulis, announces the start of the Games.
32 At the entrance to the locker room, Nikos Fenerlis, General-Secretary of the Society, calls for the members of the first group of runners. In the background, two guide-heralds: George Katsoulis and Dionysos Grivas.
33 Argyro Koureli and Theodoros Karyotis put together the first group.
34 Trumpeter Tasos Raftopoulos calls for the first race.
35 Andreas Potamianos answers the call for him to come to the starting line. He won this race in 1996 at the First Nemead, and will repeat in 2012.
36 The runners at the starting line for the first race.
37 The second race is won by Panayiotis Aronis whose son will also win later. This group is notable for including four runners from Japan.
38 Guide-herald George Katsoulis holds the list of runners in Group 3 while Ioannis Schoinochoritis, switch-wielder, keeps order. Ioannis Nikolaou and Antonis Papantonis are eager to run.
39 The start of the third race with the eventual winner in the second lane, Ioannis Flessas, just beyond Piet Kuipers of the Netherlands.
40 Race 5 is won by Tony Diamantidis who holds the palm of victory in one hand and his son Tommy in the other. Tommy will win his race later in the day, as will Tony’s wife and Tommy’s mother, Margaret. Tony and Margaret and their daughter were winners in 2004.
41 The winner of the sixth race is Professor Kostas Georgiadis, emeritus rector of the International Olympic Academy who brought three busloads of students from the Academy to the 2012 Games.
42 Some races are extremely close as the runners extend themselves. This one, race 10, is won by George Bakasetas who repeats - barely - his victory of 2008 (photo 2008#44).
43 Other races are no contest as was race 11, easily won by Nick Wilsey, former student of Stephen Miller at the University of California.
44 And in other races it is impossible for human eyes to determine a certain winner. Thus race 12 was won jointly by Dimitris Argyropoulos of Greece and Siyanga Muyundana of Zambia whose height presents a challenge to the ribbon-tying judge, Athanasios Diamantopoulos.
45 Meanwhile, the crowd grows and includes distinguished guests such as U.S. Ambassador and Mrs. Daniel Smith who are guided by former Nemea Excavations staff member, Professor Randall Colaizzi.
46 A group of young men from France appears at the entrance with shirts appropriately emblazoned “Les Lions de Némée.”
47 Out on the track the international flavor of the competitions grows as in this group with a beribboned winner Fahed Abu-Assaf from Jordan surrounded by his competitors: Antonis Lambrianides (Cyprus), Donato Gallone and Flavio Negrio (Italy), Chuan-Yu Tseng (Chinese Taipei), Dario Franjic (Croatia), Konstantinos Papadakis (Greece), Marton Stringovics (Hungary), Bruno Faiduti (Ecuador), Simeon Mladenov (Bulgaria), Tormond Tvare (Norway), and Mano Myllyaho (Finland).
48 Race 21 is won by Robert Degraff from the USA, here surrounded by “Les Lions de Némée.”
49 An intermission featured ancient music played by “The Melody of Logos” consisting of Dimitris Galanis (singer), Sylvia Koutrouli (flute), Angelos Kaloyeropoulos (oud), and Giorgos Gennaios (lute).
50 The locker room now becomes female.
51 The staff in the stadium also becomes female as judges Dina Kalkounia and Aikaterini Mazi enter while slave Christos Karyotis is bemused.
52 The winner of the first race (#27) for women is Dianne de Laet who had performed as a musician and poet at the Fourth Nemead (photo 2008#91). Her granddaughter will win later today (photo #58).
53 A gusty wind blows dust into the faces of the runners in race #30, but Margaret Diamantidis, wife and mother of victors (photo #40), pulls her chiton down and wins this race.
54 In race #32, Sally Simmonds displays vividly the spirit of competition. She won.
55 In the near lane is the winner of race #33, Maria Kontaxi, whose two daughters will win their races later (photo #94).
56 The international flavor of the Fifth Nemead is not confined to men. Here the winner from Switzerland, Annelle Notz, had competition from Marta Turkiashvili and Tamari Gogolashvili (Georgia), Reka Toth (Hungary), Alison Velia (Malta), Sophia Peppa and Natasa Koutsoukou (Greece), Marine Arikyan (Armenia), Marie Helene Cayer (Canada), Michelle Brown (USA), Yan Yan Yeo (Singapore), and Carla Belen Guitierrez Sanchez (Spain).
57 Ties do not depend upon size as the guide-herald, Christina Yiannaki, announces the co-winners Gabriela Konstantinou and Panagiota Dimopoulou who have just been ribboned by the judge, Evstathia Panagopoulou.
58 Ayla Jagerson, granddaughter of a winner (photo #52), elicits jealous looks from her competitors.
59 Six-year old Ioanna Andrianakou is the winner of race #56, Her father is now the mayor of Nemea, but has been a Nemean Victor twice (2000 and 2004; see slide show at top of this page, #6) and a judge in 1996 (photo #5). Her group included: Athanasia Christara, Artemis Penelope Erya Yang, Ariadne Pantazi, Theodora Anesti, Georgia Banagi, Alexis Karnasiote, Maria Bekiari, Antonia Pasvada, Kyveli Lampropoulou, and Nikoletta Limniati.
They were watched over by ??, ??, ??, Evdoxia Kanellopoulou, (judges), ?? slave, and Ioannis Schoinochoritis (switch-bearer).
60 The starter (Spyros Kyriakos) walks behind the judge (Christos Baraphakas) who holds a helmet containing marbles marked with lane numbers. ?? draws his, while ?? checks to see which lane is marked on his marble.
61 The youngest runners take their places at the ancient starting line: Konstantinos Peppas, Evangelos Baraphakas, and Nikos Korakas, watched over by judge Vasilis Basaniotis.
62 Evangelos Baraphakas is determined to win . . .
63 . . . . but Athanasios Papadopoulos is the youngest victor at the Fifth Nemead.
64 The participants in the Footsteps of Herakles race, including “Les Lions de Némée.” (foreground), assemble at the ancient Temple of Herakles in the valley of Ancient Kleonai.
65 The judge, Georgios Douros (Mayor of Kleonai), administers the oath wherein the runners swear to do nothing to bring shame to the Games or to themselves.
66 The race is on! In the lead with a white “Nemea 2000” shirt is longtime member of the digging staff at Nemea, Michales Skoupas.
Although everyone should be wearing a white chiton (tunic), the number of runners was greater than the supply of tunics.
67 A river of runners winds through vineyards and then uphill among olive trees toward the modern town of Kleonai.
68 The slope within the town is tough, as can be seen on the faces of Panayiotis Gkofas and Vlasis Karabasilias.
69 “Slaves” hand out water to the runners as they pass through the town.
70 Not all the water is consumed internally.
71 The Ukrainian ambassador, Volodymyr Shkurov, shows that diplomatic relations are not always easy.
72 Shoes have been allowed until the ancient locker room where they must be discarded and the run through the tunnel entrance and around the track done barefoot.
73 The first runner out of the tunnel and onto the track is Tannous Abdalla, a Greek from Syria.
74 Abdalla celebrates his victory with hand-stands while the second place finisher continues around the altar.
75 Three friends who finished the Footsteps in 2008 hand-in-hand, repeat that performance in 2012: Georgios Vlachos, Vlasis Karabasilias, and Thomas Yiannousas.
76 The women’s winner is Viviana Chavarria Barrantes of Costa Rica.
77 The finisher is Spyros Retsas from the U.K.
78 Back to the locker room to wash feet, find shoes, and put on the shirt emblematic of participation in the Nemean Games of 2012.
79 The closing ceremonies begin with the entrance procession of Priestesses of Zeus and Judges, led by the heralds Dionysos Grivas and Nikos Fenerlis (Secretary of the Society).
80 The Priestesses of Zeus: Eliselia Díaz Suárez (Cuba), Eszter Sándorfi (Hungary), Melitta Schubert (Austria), Blanka Kovaczova (Czech Republic)
81 The Judges: Sjur Larsen (Norway), Jean Loup Kuhn-Delforge (France), Edward Roman (UK), Elias Clis (Greece), Tsewang Topden (India), Volodymyr Shkurov (Ukraine), Hiroshi Toda (Japan)
82 Hiroshi Toda (Japan) and Olympic champion Kakhi Kakhiashvili (Georgia-Greece) discuss their duties.
83 The procession of victors includes Tommy Diamantidis (at right) and his mother four places behind.
84 While the victors take their places, the Women’s Choir and the Children’s Choir of Corinth, led by Maestro Phalia Papayiannopoulou, sing the Olympic Hymn.
85 Spyros Kyriakos reads a message from Christos Papanikolaou on behalf of the Society of Hellenic Olympic Victors.
86 Ioannis Nakis responds on behalf of the Society for the Revival of the Nemean Games.
87 Meanwhile the crowd pays close attention, for the most part.
88 The participants in the Fifth Nemead come forward to receive their special pins from the Priestesses and Judges.
89 The pin.
90 The crowns of wild celery await the winners.
91 A winner awaits his crown of wild celery.
92 Dimitris Argyropoulos is congratulated by Ukranian Ambassador, Volodymyr Shkurov, on his crown of wild celery.
93 The Indian Ambassador, Tsewang Topden, crowns Greg Guy, former student at the University of California while his teacher looks on.
94 The Ambassador of Cuba, Eliselia Díaz Suárez, places the crown of victory on the head of Thalia Fourli. Her sister Thetis and their mother, Maria Kontaxi (photo #55), have also been crowned this day as Nemean winners.
95 Olympic victor Kakhi Kakhiashvili crowns a Nemean victor, Ioanna Andrianakou (see photo #59).
96 Photis Elefsiniotis ?) collects a crown and a kiss from Consul Blanka Kovaczova of the Czech Republic.
97 The shortest victor, Athanasios Papadopoulos, receives congratulations from the tallest judge, Sjur Larsen of Norway.
98 French Ambassador Jean Loup Kuhn-Delforge congratulates Tannous Abdalla upon his victory in the Footsteps of Herakles race.
99 Heralds Dionysos Grivas and Nikos Fenerlis read the Prayer to Earth.
100 Priestess Eszter Sándorfi, Ambassador of Hungary, places a cup of Nemean earth on the flame.
101 Elias Clis, Greek Ambassador, adds his cup of earth to extinguish the flame.
102 Trumpeter Anastasios Flokas, echoed by another trumpeter from the rim of the stadium, sounds the end of the Games for 2012.
103 On the day following the closing of the Games, the festival concluded in the ancient Stadium with a theatrical performance of George Kostouros' Nemeada, a poem celebrating the history and mythology of Nemea and the Nemean Games. Personifications of mythic figures, such as Nemea (above), and historical persons such as the athlete Automedes, came forward to explain their roles in the stadium.