Medal for Cyprus

Cyprus' Pavlos Kontides sails during the ninth race of the Laser sailing class at the London 2012 Olympic Games in Weymouth and Portland, southern England, August 4, 2012. REUTERS/Pascal Lauener

LONDON: For the first time at an Olympics, there's a medal for the country of Cyprus - and a new hero who will carry it home.

Sailing champion Pavlos Kontides has earned the small island nation's first-ever Olympic medal. The 22-year-old Kontides has assured himself at least a silver medal in the Laser class and has a slim chance at clinching the gold in Monday's final race.

Cypriot media are praising his achievement as the "brightest page in Cyprus' sporting history." It's certainly a milestone for the island: While Cyprus is said to have fielded some Olympic champions in antiquity, Kontides' medal is its first since the island started taking part in the modern-day Olympics in the 1980 Moscow Games.

The medal offers some cheer to ethnically-split Cyprus roiling under an economic crisis that in June saw it become the fifth country to seek an economic rescue package from its partners in the group of nations that use the euro as their currency.

It's fitting that Cyprus' first Olympic medal comes in sailing, since the seafaring nation's sailing heritage stretches back millennia. Its current shipping registry ranks 10th in the world.





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