Sydney to Tokyo – Evangelia Psarra set to become six-time Olympian
“I remember every stadium, every game, everything,” said Evangelia Psarra nostalgically.
The 47-year old has just qualified for her sixth consecutive Olympic Games.
This weekend’s event in Paris was the last chance to book a ticket and, just as she has each of the last six cycles, Psarra pulled it out of the bag, booking herself in the history of the sport and Olympic history in Greece, too.
Because in one month’s time, she will become just the fourth archer in history – and the first Greek athlete in any sport – to compete in six editions of the Games. (Ilario Di Buo, Natalia Valeeva and Alison Williamson are the other archers.)
It’s something of a tradition for Psarra to capture her quota somewhat at the last minute. Five years ago, she cut it even finer, failing to win a spot at the last qualifier but receiving an invitation following a withdrawal.
When she shot the arrow that secured her a place in Tokyo, signs of pure satisfaction, and relief, flooded over her face. She had done it.
Evangelia’s Olympic journey now spans three decades.
“In Sydney, I was a newcomer. I remember that it was something new for me,” Evangelia said of her debut at the Games.
“I had been at the world championships before but it’s totally different from that. The Olympic village, athletes from all over the world. It was amazing. Like a fire lit up in my heart.”
Four years later, she had a lifetime opportunity to represent Greece at the Olympics organised in the country’s capital, Athens.
“Of course, it was in my home country, it was something different,” she said.
Against the bewitching backdrop of the Panathinaikos Stadium, full of ancient soul and Olympic history, Psarra did really well. She seeded eighth after qualifying and made the quarterfinals, only losing to eventual Olympic Champion Park Sung-Hyun, leaving with a final ranking of seventh.
“I got there my best ever place at the Olympics. My family were in the stadium cheering on me,” she continued her story.
Not only has Psarra’s journey spanned 21 years but also four different continents, starting in Oceania (Sydney), stopping in Europe (Athens, London) and Asia (Beijing) and the Americas (Rio).
“And now Tokyo. All of them made last minute,” she said. “I didn’t have dreams about it. But it came true. It’s a great feeling.”
Evangelia’s record sixth appearance at the Olympic Games starts on 23 July.