(Greece) – Michalis Kalomiris, an amateur marathoner and lawyer from Greece, qualified for the Rio Olympics before he even realized it. In fact, he found out when he was reading a popular website devoted to track and field. His name was amongst those listed as competing in the marathon event at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Kalomiris qualified under a loophole rule that gave him a spot on the Greek Olympic Team. He actually qualified 14 months prior to discovering that he made the team but since his time was ten minutes under the qualifying time for the Rio Olympics, he didn’t give it a second thought. Because he placed in the top ten at the Rome Marathon in 2015, he earned his spot on the Greek Olympic Team. He ran that race in 2 hours and 29 minutes, which was a good ten minutes over the qualifying time for the Olympics.
According to Yiannis Papadopoulos of 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.” He went on to say that, “a small war broke out in the Greek running community,” because there are stronger marathon runners in Greece who didn’t earn a spot at the Olympics.
Because Kalomiris has a full time job as a lawyer, he juggles his regular job with his love of marathons. He usually trains before work. However, he was completely surprised that he was able to run in the Olympics.
According to a report released by the International Association of Athletic Federations, an individual can run in the Olympics if they finish in the top 10 of a “Gold Label” event, which is defined as a race that has at least five elite runners in both the men’s and women’s divisions. The marathon in Rome is considered a “Gold Label” event, which earned Kalomiris a spot on the Olympics because he finished eighth.