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Latest update: 08/06/2009 18:17 +0300

Anninos Marcoullides: The Absolute Star

NICOSIA, 28 May 2009 He made his first appearance precisely 20 years ago during the III Games of the Small States of Europe, which were then organized by Cyprus.

Spectators at the Makarion Stadium were left dumfounded when the 19-year-old, then serving in the National Guard, won the 200m and 400m dash.

He was at the time also in the 4x100m and 4x400m relay squad that secured a gold medal.

Everyone who witnessed Anninos Marcoullides during his early days and followed his career will be familiar with his prowess as an athlete.

By 2005, the last year he competed in the GSSE, he had claimed 21 gold and one silver medal the latter at his first Games setting an unparalleled precedent for a Cypriot sprinter.

He returned from Andorra in 1991 with four gold medals, having clinched even that of the 400m in the Pyrenees. Marcoullides shortly after stopped competing at this distance and focused on the 100m, 200m and 4x100m.

During the 1990s he dominated the sport and was widely considered one of the fastest Caucasian sprinters in the world.

The year after his magnificent performance in the Atlanta Olympic Games he was unable to compete in the GSSE held in Iceland, the only Games he ever missed.

In 1999 in Luxembourg he only competed in the 100m dash. "I had an important meet in Germany and just went to win the 100m dash before I left," said Anninos, who has accumulated so many medals over the years he has difficulty remembering which Games he claimed them in.

He distinctly recalls the 2001 San Marino Games, however, as that was the same year he won at the Mediterranean Games in Tunis.

He competed in Malta two years later and in Andorra in 2005, a performance which secured his stature as an absolute champion.

"I would really feel the pressure when competing in the GSSE because I was still a beginner then and it's not very flattering when you lose to an athlete who has a worse record than you," recalls Marcoulides.

"During the 1990s in the 100m and 200m at the GSSE I competed against fellow Cypriot athletes as the level of the Pancyprian games was then higher than the GSSE," notes Cyprus' greatest sprinter of all time who is now a lecturer at the Limassol Sports School.

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