The ceremony for the delivery of the victors’ wreaths for the Boston Marathon, presented to the Boston Marathon Association by the General Consulate of Greece in Boston and the Greek-American Council “Alpha Omega”, was held on Thursday evening at Massachusetts State House.
The Boston marathon, which is taking place on Monday, is considered one of the most important marathon races worldwide and underlines Boston’s common cultural bonds with Greece as the birthplace of the American Revolution, for which it is symbolically dubbed the “Athens of the USA”.
Metropolitan of Boston Methodios, as well as state senators, diplomats and many people attended the event. The Greek Consul Stratos Efthymiou presented the Boston Marathon Association with four olive wreaths, two for the winners of the men’s and women’s races and two for the winners of the special categories for athletes with disabilities.
The delivery of the wreaths started in 1984 when the governor of Massachusetts was Michael Dukakis. The wreaths are offered in honour of Greek runner Stelios Kyriakidis, winner of the 1946 Boston Marathon, who had travelled from war-ravaged Greece, still devastated in the aftermath of WWII and the Nazi occupation, to participate in the Boston Marathon and prevail over local champion John Kelly. Referring to Kyriakidis, Kelly had said: “how could I ever beat such an athlete? I was running for myself and he ran for a whole country”.
After his victory, Kyriakidis raised awareness of Greece’s plight among the Americans and Greek-Americans, who collected and sent financial and humanitarian aid to poverty-stricken and deprived Greece. He is considered the first athlete to run with the aim of raising public awareness of a specific cause.