In boccia, athletes in the BC3 class are allowed a sport assistant to help with their wheelchair or ramp on the field of play during competition.
Thus, when Greece’s Greg Polychronidis won gold with teammates Maria-Eleni Kordali and Nikoalos Pananos in the BC3 pairs event at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, his sport assistant was also honoured with a gold medal.
In this case, his sport assistant happened to be his father, Daniel Polychronidis.
However, his father’s gold medal was stolen from his home during a robbery in 2013.
Following the receipt of an official police report last summer, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) sent out a gold-medal replacement to Polychronidis late last year, which he gave to his father as a gift on Christmas Eve.
“My father was my assistant for many years, plus he manufactured all my equipment – ramp, balls and head pointer,” Polychronidis said. “My father retired, so I wanted to gift him the medal that was stolen, as a reminder of our entire sport journey and the ultimate success we had together.”
The Polychronidis household could not have been any happier on Christmas Eve.
“It was an unbelievable surprise,” his father said. “I was sure that I would not own this medal ever again. I could not believe I had the London 2012 gold replaced. Since I got the replacement medal, I’ve appreciated its value even more. Before the robbery, I took it for granted. Now, it feels fantastic to hold it in my hand.”
His father said when he looks at the gold medal it reminds him of the celebratory atmosphere from the London 2012 Paralympics.
“I felt like being in a big family during the Games,” he said. “I enjoyed the sense of being part of this big festival of the Paralympic Games.”
The younger Polychronidis, meanwhile, is now back to training full-time for the Rio 2016 Games, which will be his fourth Paralympics, as well as participating in speaking engagements at least once a week.
His new sport assistant is his fiancée, Katerina Patroni, and together they are preparing for the BISFed 2016 World Individual Championships, which take place in March in Beijing, China, and will be their last major event prior to the Rio 2016 Games.
“The competition is much harder now, but I’m getting used to it,” Polychronidis said. “But it’s always like that. London 2012 was much tougher than Beijing 2008, and so Rio 2016 will probably be much tougher than London 2012. That’s why we’re training.
“Thankfully, boccia has no age limit. It’s like billiards. The more you play, the more you mature and the better you get.”
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs).
The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.
Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.