Nikos Samaras Award
«At the 28th ICPESS, “Nikos Samaras prize” will be awarded to Olympic Champion Spyros Gianniotis.»
This prize was introduced to the memory of the great volleyball player, who was a graduate of the School of Physical Education and Sport Science of Democritus University and perished ingloriously in 2013. Nikos Samaras was one of the top volleyball players that our country has featured. He fought at the diagonal position and stood out 263 times internationally. He has distinguished himself for his “staggering” serve with a leap and his quick dunk.
He started his career playing in the team of Orestiada, which he also led on to become one of the country’s top in the 90s. In fact, with this team, he reached the second position of the Confederation Cup (now Challenge Cup) in 1995, losing to the final from the mighty Pallavolo Parma with 3-0 sets.
In 1998, he left Orestiada for the Italian Falconara. A year later, he returned to Greece to compete in the volleyball team Iraklis in Thessaloniki, where he won the Greek Cup in 2000. In the summer of 2000, he got a transfer to Panathinaikos, where he stayed until 2002. He then competed in AEK, in the Spanish team of Seville, in the Turkish Fenerbahce, in the Swiss Senau, in the Ethnikos Alexandroupolis and completed his career in Milona, at the age of 42. He was the only Greek volleyball player who has ever taken part in the championships of five countries.
He played 263 times with Men’s National Greek team (12th on the list of the Hellenic Volleyball Federation) and in 1994 he won the 6th place in the World Volleyball Championship, held in Greece. He was also 160 times internationalist with the National Youth team, with which he won the 6th place at the World Championship in 1989 in Athens.
«At the 28th ICPESS, “Nikos Samaras prize” was awarded to Olympic Champion Spyros Gianniotis.»
He was born in Liverpool in 1980 and his first team was Nautical Sports Club of Corfu. He took the seventh place in the Fukuoka World Championship in 2001 and won a bronze medal in 4X200m freestyle in 2003 at the European Championship.
At the 2005 Mediterranean Games in Almeria, he won a silver medal in 400m freestyle, a silver at 1.500m freestyle and third place at 800m freestyle. On March 18, 2007, he won the bronze medal at 5km at the 12th World Aquatics Championship in Melbourne and was the first race of his career in the open- water swimming. At the World Cup open seas, held in China in 2007, he won a silver medal and a month later, at the International Military Games in Hyderabad, India, won one gold and two silver medals at 1.500m freestyle, 4X200 and 400m freestyle, respectively. In May 2008, he competed at 10km at the Beijing Olympics and in July 2009 won the silver medal at the world championship in Rome at 5km open seas.
In 2011 at the World Cup in Setúbal, he won a gold medal at 10km, while in July, same year, he became
world champion at 10km open seas in Shanghai. He also won a silver medal at the 5km open seas at the same event.
In 2013, he won the gold medal at 10km open seas at the Barcelona World Championship. With this participation, he became the oldest world champion in the open-water swimming class.