Greece Olympic Gold Medal In Rowing?


A year ago, I ended up receiving a lot of free magazines and one free newspaper. An airline company which I used to fly with sent me an offer to use up all my frequent flyer miles by getting a year’s free subscription to several magazines. To be honest, I would not spend my money on subscribing to most of the magazines that were offered, but suddenly the publications began to arrive with the postman. Though I flipped through as many and as quickly as I could, most of them ended up in piles in a corner of the dining room before they finally made it out in the street for the recycling truck to pick them up.

Of course, there were a couple of exceptions, one of them being the New York Observer. This weekly newspaper is more libertine than The New York Times, to say the least. And while some of the articles in the Observer’s sometimes go ‘overboard’ in their free-spirit fashion of describing people’s lifestyles and sex lives, I enjoy reading the well-written pieces on books, films, and theatre performances, although, I can not really remember last time we travelled to the big city for a show.

Allan Massie

In the current issue, 21 may, 2012, there is an article by Drew Grant, a young, up-and-coming reporter, and her article, ‘To Slur, With Love?’, is about ‘Ironic racism: portent of white backlash, or just a little Taki-ness?’. The latter, ‘Taki’, is referring to Taki Theodoracopulos, a right-wing publicist, journalist, and writer, who is known for his racist and ethnic slurs, or his slip-of-the-tongue remarks about Blacks and Jews. He has been writing his ‘High Life’ column in the British Spectator since 1977, and still does, and it was there I first read his pieces. However, I never bought the magazine to read what Taki had done with some of his jet-setting playboy friends at the Riviera, instead I purchased the Spectator for the ‘Low Life’ column written by the inimitable drunk, Jeffrey Bernard, who died in September 1997. (I could write a long essay about Bernard and the extremely funny play Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell by Keith Waterhouse, but this is not the right forum). If I come across the Spectator today, which is getting harder and harder as not that many book chains carry the magazine in the USA, I buy it if there is a piece by Scottish writer Allan Massie.

So, why am I writing about Taki on HTBS then? In Grant’s article she writes that “His father, in addition to being an Olympic gold medalist in rowing, was a shipping baron.” This information came as a surprise to me because last time I checked the different nations’ lists of Olympic gold medallists, no Greek crew has ever taken a gold medal at any of the official Olympic Games (but Greece took a bronze in the men’s lightweight double sculls in 2004 and a silver in the same class in 2008). I do not know where Grant got the wrong information, maybe she mixed up the different event or sport?

Tug-of-war, Olympic sport in Stockholm in 1912.

There is also another slim explanation, which literally came to me in the form of an e-mail from Mrs. B. She sent me a link to The New York Times, an article about odd Olympic sports that only made it at one or two Games, like softball, cricket, tug-of-war, and rowing in naval 16-oared gigs. The latter race was held in the so called 1906 Intercalated Games, or 1906 Olympic Games, in Athens. In the gig class, the Greek Team Poros won the gold. Let us say that Taki’s father was in the winning crew, and he was twenty years old, thirty-one years later, 1937, Taki was born – not impossibly, but not very likely, I think. Of course, then we can also consider the fact that the Games in 1906 are not recognised as official Olympic Games anymore.

The question, whether Taki’s father was a gold medallist in rowing or not, I will leave open. However, I would like to point out that Taki’s online magazine, Taki Magazine, which brands itself as “a Libertarian webzine”, and is run by his daughter, Mandolyna Theodoracopulos, actually had a rowing article published in April, and although most of the articles in Taki’s Magazine are not my cup of tea (or in Taki’s case, champagne), I do approve of the content in “Elitism Leads to Tyrannically Whiny Protesters” by John M. Clarke Jr. Of course, HTBS also wrote about this incident, several times, as a matter of fact.

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