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ATHENS 2004

Greek Judo Titlist Dies

August 25, 2004|Dan Mihalopoulos | Chicago Tribune

THESSALONIKI, Greece — Greek judo champion Eleni Ioannou died Tuesday, 17 days after she fell from the fourth-floor balcony of her apartment during an argument with her boyfriend, Olympic officials said.

She died at Erythros Stavros hospital of multiple infections, the officials said. Her coach, Giorgos Bountakis, said the 20-year-old athlete never regained consciousness after the Aug. 7 fall in the Athens suburb of Nea Ionia. She will be buried Thursday in the outfit she would have worn to the Olympics, he added.

Although her coach and teammates said they deeply doubted Ioannou would try to kill herself, a spokeswoman for the Greek Ministry of Public Order said Tuesday the case was ruled a suicide.

Ioannou's boyfriend of two years, 24-year-old Giorgos Chrysostomides, jumped off the same balcony two days after Ioannou fell. He is still hospitalized, but his condition has improved from critical to stable, the spokeswoman said.

Authorities said they believe the couple argued because Chrysostomides did not want Ioannou to stay in the Olympic village. The couple lived with Chrysostomides' grandparents a few miles from the Olympic judo hall.

Bountakis, the coach at the Nea Philadelphia Judo Club, said Ioannou's parents asked that she be buried in the outfit worn by Greek Olympians at the Aug. 13 opening ceremony.

"She had earned the right to march in the opening ceremony but was never able to do it," he said. "It's a shame to lose a girl like Eleni in such a way."

Ioannou is survived by her parents and two sisters, ages 6 and 4, her coach said.

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