Olympic champion Sofia Bekatorou provides voice to #MeToo motion

Olympic champion Sofia Bekatorou provides voice to #MeToo motion

Sofia Bekatarou mentioned she hoped the response marked a turning level for Greek society, which frequently appears resigned to official cronyism and impunity.

Olympic champion Sofia Bekatorou adds voice to #MeToo movement

Sofia Bekatorou, essentially the most profitable feminine athlete in Greek sporting historical past, just lately revealed that she was the sufferer of a sexual assault, allegedly by a senior sports activities official in 1998. AP

Earlier than she might be a part of crusing courses close to her dwelling in Athens, Sofia Bekatorou needed to present an teacher she might tie a primary knot correctly. Passing the take a look at at age 8 modified her life.

Bekatorou spent her first afternoons in a bathtub-sized sailboat caught in circles, however coaches took word of the lady’s dedication. By her twelfth birthday, she was outperforming the boys in aggressive races and on a path to profitable gold medals as a world champion and on the Olympics.

However essentially the most profitable girl in fashionable Greece’s sporting historical past revealed in January that an incident nearly 23 years in the past had marred a lot of her private happiness {and professional} profession — an alleged sexual assault by a Greek crusing federation official at a lodge in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

Her disclosure was made at a little-advertised on-line sports activities seminar, nevertheless it gained nationwide consideration and elicited statements of help for Bekatorou from the nation’s prime minister and first feminine president. It was adopted by dozens of public claims of sexual misconduct and office intimidation within the worlds of elite sports activities, the performing arts, and academia.

Bekatarou, 43, mentioned she hoped the response marked a turning level for Greek society, which frequently appears resigned to official cronyism and impunity.

“I’m very comfortable that they got here ahead and spoke out,” she mentioned in an interview with The Related Press. “We have to embrace individuals who have lived by way of such experiences, as a result of it’s a really large step, even speaking about it.”

Bekatorou received a gold medal within the ladies’s double-handed dinghy occasion with teammate Emilia Tsoulfa on the 2004 Summer time Olympics, which was held in Athens.

Greeks caught televised glimpses of the various successes that adopted: the keelboat race that returned her to an Olympics podium 4 years later in Beijing, and opening the parade of countries for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer time Video games as the primary feminine flag-bearer ever to steer the Greek Olympic staff.

Bekatorou devoted the respect at Maracana Stadium to her older sister, Varia, who had died of mind most cancers 4 months earlier. Her future in top-tier competitors included a battle with a career-threatening again damage and, as she just lately revealed, years of remedy. Reserved and soft-spoken, Bekatorou says the crusing federation official sexually assaulted her in 1998, on the day she celebrated qualifying for the Sydney Olympics. Neither she nor prosecuting authorities have publicly recognized the accused official, who has denied the allegations.

Alongside along with her Olympic medals, Bekatorou introduced dwelling 4 World Championship titles and a shelfful of nationwide and European trophies. She was twice named World Sailor of the Yr. In recognition of her accomplishments, she was given the rank of main within the Greek military.

However she alleges that the official who assaulted her additionally undermined her place on the nationwide crusing staff over almost 20 years, arguing that precedence ought to be given to youthful opponents.

“It’s a really large weight that we supply in our private life. And these are issues that may really put you in a deep despair for a really very long time,” Bekatorou mentioned. “And until you could have the (proper) assist and setting, it’s not simple to beat it and transfer on.”

The accused official was fired final month from senior posts on the Hellenic Crusing Federation and the Hellenic Olympic Committee. He known as Bekatorou’s allegations “defamatory and deceitful.”

The alleged assault has exceeded a 15-year statute of limitations, however a public prosecutor has agreed to look at the case for different doable victims.

Greek Justice Minister Kostas Tsiaras mentioned the federal government deliberate to make authorized modifications to make it simpler for sexual assault victims to report crimes.

Bekatorou mentioned the influence of her revelations had taken her unexpectedly.

She smiled when requested about future plans and the take a look at given to her when first studying to sail. Demonstrating her information, and the talent she picked up as an 8-year-old, she looped a bit of microphone cable right into a bowline knot.

“I’ll need to sail on greater boats which might be much less bodily demanding, however I don’t actually like the thought of being known as a former competitor.”

She is comfortable, she mentioned, to be related to the #MeToo motion that adopted the allegations of previous sexual misconduct that exploded in 2017 and the next conviction of Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

When the allegations emerged within the leisure trade, “I used to be feeling, you recognize, one thing actually robust coming from inside, however I wasn’t able to cope with it. And I didn’t need simply to speak about it. I wished to vary one thing,” Bekatorou mentioned.

“And I knew that with the intention to change one thing, I needed to be prepared, whether or not somebody would observe me or nobody would….Now, I’m prepared.”

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