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Krasias: 'I Finally Had A Joyful, Successful Moment'
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IG Online's annual series of year-end features continues with this profile on Michalis Krasias of Cyprus, whose financial struggles proved worthwhile as he advanced to the all-around final at this spring's European Championships in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

IG Online's annual series of year-end features continues with this profile on Michalis Krasias of Cyprus, whose financial struggles proved worthwhile as he advanced to the all-around final at this spring's European Championships in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

"Looking back on my 2017 competition year, my proudest accomplishment was of course that I made the all-around final at the European championships," said Krasias, who finished 24th in Cluj.

Krasias, who turned 23 in August, is completely self-funded and says he does not receive any support for training from the Cyprus Olympic Committee or Cyprus Gymnastics Federation. The island nation, with a population of just over 1 million people, has limited public funding for sports and is still recovering from the Eurozone debt crisis of 2012-2013. The Cyprus Gymnastics Federation only provided funding for him to compete in Cluj, but the world championships and other FIG events were out of reach for him.

"I have not any way to compete in any other international competitions," Krasias said. "The only support that I have in my sport career comes from my family, financially, and from my coach."


Michalis Krasias (Cyprus) at the 2017 European Championships in Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Krasias, who competed at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010 in Singapore, said he continues to face the prospect of limited competition prospects because he is self-funded.

"For example, the only thing that my federation made for me was that they covered my expenses for my trip in Cluj," he said. "They do not offer me any other support, neither financial nor any salary for my coach. Because of that, I was not able to compete in any Challenge Cups, neither before the Euros to get some experience, nor after the European Championships."

Krasias said he might have performed even better in Cluj had he competed more often in recent years. His elder brother, fellow gymnast Dimitris Krasias, 25, was able to fund their competition at the 2016 FIG World Challenge Cup in Cottbus.

"In the last four years I competed in only one Challenge Cup, and the expenses for that were covered by my brother," Krasias said. "This is such a shame. I mention these things to emphasize why my qualification to the all-around final at Euros was such an important accomplishment for me, because despite that I managed to get there. I finally had a joyful and successful moment that I needed so much, and that gave me the courage to continue my hard work."

Born in Nicosia to Cypriot parents, Krasias trains in Thessaloniki, Greece, where he has been coached by Christos Kasiolas since October 2016. Kasiolas previously coached Greek gymnast Ioannis Melissanidis, the 1996 Olympic floor exercise gold medalist and a 2000 Olympic vault finalist.

"He was the one who went to the Sydney Olympics with Ioannis Melissanidis," Krasias said of Kasiolas, who was not able to travel to Cluj. "He has helped me immensely."

Living in Greece also means that Krasias is not able to rely on his family for support in day-to-day tasks.

"I live alone," he said. "That it is a tough thing for a gymnast because I must cook, wash and do all the housework, too, and almost all my money is spent on that. I have no money for massages and other things that are so helpful for a gymnast."

Krasias, a third-year physiotherapy student, said his achievement in Cluj was more rewarding since because he spends much of his free time studying.

"What makes my road harder and my success in Euros bigger is that I am a student, too," he told IG. "A student-gymnast has a very difficult way of life. Without love and passion for your sport, it's impossible to get through it and compete at the elite level."

Next in the series: Slovenia's Lucija Hribar is still benefiting from her history-making performance at this fall's world championships.

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