Greek lawyer had no idea he had qualified for the Olympics until he read a website 3 months before the games began
Michalis Kalomiris is a lawyer and amateur marathoner from Greece. In May, he was reading a track and field website about athletes who will compete in the Rio Olympics when he came across something he did not expect: his own name.
It turns out that Kalomiris had qualified for the Olympics 14 months earlier because of a loophole, according to Yiannis Papadopoulos of the Greek publication Ekathimerini:
"He couldn't believe his eyes. He looked at the list again to make sure he wasn't mistaken. But there it was, his name among the runners who qualified for the marathon at the Rio Olympics this summer."
Kalomiris, who trains before and after work at a firm in Athens, ran the 2015 Rome Marathon in 2 hours, 29 minutes, 30 seconds — slower than the time of 2:19:00 needed to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
However, according to the report, the International Association of Athletic Federations rules also allow a person to qualify if they finish in the top 10 of a "Gold Label" event — a race that includes at least five "elite"-level runners in both the men's and women's divisions.
The Rome Marathon was indeed a Gold Label event, and Kalomiris finished eighth.
Not surprisingly, Papadopoulos writes, "a small war broke out in the Greek running community" over Kalomiris' inclusion on the Greek Olympic team, noting that "some thought the decision unfair, arguing that there are faster marathoners in Greece. (Kalomiris finished fifth in the National Marathon Championship.)"
Yes, you want the best athletes competing at the highest levels in the Olympics, but stories about athletes like Kalomiris, who describes himself as an "amateur training at sub-elite level," are often just as important and are a big part of what makes the Olympics so great.