The Greek shooter knows she could help create future medal rivals for herself by mentoring youngsters as an Athlete Role Model.
The Greek shooter is determined to make the greatest possible impact as an Athlete Role Model (ARM) at next year’s Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Buenos Aires.
Some athletes might hold back from helping a youngster if they knew their protégé could challenge them for an Olympic medal in the future. Not Anna Korakaki.
The Greek shooter is determined to make the greatest possible impact as an Athlete Role Model (ARM) at next year’s Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Buenos Aires – even if it risks costing her personally at the “big Games” in Tokyo two years later.
“Many competitors from Nanjing (the 2014 Youth Games) went on to win medals in Rio (the 2016 Summer Games) in many sports, so it’s possible of course,” said the Rio 2016 double medallist. “It would be awesome (if an athlete she mentors next year rivals her for a medal in 2020) and I would be so emotional, I would cry. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.”
Korakaki will turn 22 next year, which will make her just four years older than the eldest athletes in Buenos Aires. So would she be worried that anyone she helped in Argentina could later deny her glory in Japan?
“No, not at all,” she said. “It would be the absolute opposite of this. I would be delighted if I knew that I had even a tiny part in their success. Because I would not be the responsible one, the athlete and coach would be. If I played a part, it would be like 0.02 per cent, if they remembered my words, and if I could experience that I would have some great emotions.”
Such selflessness is perhaps unsurprising in someone who is studying to be a teacher for people with a disability, and who says she has “always just wanted to help people” since she was a child.
But Korakaki has a steely side too, as she showed to become the first Greek woman to win two Olympic medals in the same Games by taking gold in the 25m pistol and bronze in the 10m air pistol in Rio.
She will bring that character and experience to her role at the YOG, where she and 49 other sport stars will mentor and guide the 3,998 competing athletes as part of the International Olympic Committee’s ARM programme.
Through workshops and activities at the Youth Olympic Village, as well as in informal chats and by being behind the scenes at competition venues, the ARMs will work to inspire the youngsters to fulfil their potential, both on and off the field of play.
And Korakaki – who admits to being “seriously emotional” when she was asked to be an ARM – has already identified which type of athletes she will be most able to help in Buenos Aires.
“I will be more needed by the non-successful athletes, the ones who don’t get on the podium,” she said. “That’s something I’ve experienced, so I know that they need you a bit more, you have to motivate them.
“The others ones, after winning, are happy and they don’t need that much help because they have succeeded, while the other ones are disappointed, like me in 2014.”
Korakaki was referring to the dismay she felt at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games when she came agonisingly close to earning a medal but finished fourth.
She knows the pain and she turned it to her advantage. So any young athlete who suffers heartbreak in Buenos Aires should be pleased if they see Korakaki coming their way in their moment of need.