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If you follow sports, you may be familiar with Alexandros Nikolaidis, a Greek taekwondo athlete. Alexandros was a paradigm of solidarity and humility. Even when facing death, he perfectly captured the ancient Greek word ‘athlos,’ to surpass yourself, to be able to inspire. And he did.

So why is it important, in the context of the globalization of sports, to remember this twice silver medalist?

When Alexandros lost to an Asian opponent at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics and spectators started yelling racist words at the athlete, he went over and hugged his opponent.

Alexandros constantly reminded us that sports have nothing to do with rivalries, but with solidarity and the Olympic spirit.

Alexandros passed away on October 14 at the age of 42 from cancer and yet he was wise enough to know that the true medals in life are those achieved if you keep your spirit high and your humanity toward the rest of us.

In a Facebook post written sometime before his death, but published on the day of his death, Alexandros had the following thoughts to express to his fans who were in mourning:


FacebookFor those who prefer the post in its original Greek:


Hopefully, Alexander, this article may help your legacy gain the attraction that it deserves.

Eleni Kapa-Karasavidou teaches Interculturality and Literature at the University of Ioannina, Greece. She studied Pedagogy and Mass Media at the Aristotelion University of Thessaloniki. Eleni was honoured with a scholarship by the University of Nottingham and received a Master's degree in Cultural Studies. She completed a second Master's degree in Intercultural Education and a Ph.D in Children's Literature. She was the organiser of the InterBalkan Network for Intercultural Education. She is a member of various cultural, social and scientific institutions. She has been published in various magazines and newspapers and has been honoured under the aegis of the Greek Ministry of Culture for her work.