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Greece heads Olympic athletes parade

2008-08-08 18:10:48 GMT2008-08-09 02:10:48 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English

Members of the Olympic Delegation of Greece, the home of the Olympic Games, firstly parade into the National Stadium, at the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, in Beijing, China, Aug. 8, 2008.(Xinhua/Guo Dayue)

BEIJING, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Greece, the country where the Olympics were born, headed the parade of athletes at the Olympic opening ceremony on Friday night.

Ilias Iliadis, a Georgia-born Greek judoka who won the half-middleweight (81 kg) division at the 2004 Olympics, was the flag bearer.

The 160-member delegation will compete in 24 sports including athletics, gymnastics, swimming, sailing, rowing, taekwondo, cycling and judo.

Greece will contend for medals or even gold in athletics, gymnastics, judo and sailing.

Greece has competed all summer Olympics and hosted two Games in 1896 and 2004, both in Athens.

It has totaled 104 Olympic medals including 30 gold, 41 silver and 33 bronze medals, in which the sports of athletics and weightlifting account for 28 and 15 medals respectively.

Weightlifter Pyrros Dimas, who won gold at the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Games, is one of Greece's heroes. He failed to win his fourth straight Olympic title in 2004, finishing with a bronze.

Greek medal expectations are low this year following a string of doping problems.

Greek weightlifting spectacularly fell from grace in April when nearly the entire Beijing squad was eliminated after testing positive to the banned steroid Methyltrienolone.

Swimmer Yiannis Drymonakos and sprinter Dimitris Regas had also tested positive for the same steroid while an unidentified Greek Olympic boxer also fell foul of testing.

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