Ioannis Melissanidis visits the HCGM
Olympic gold medallist, Ioannis Melissanidis,
met with the HCGM President Nicholas Pagonis, on December 29 at the HCGM Head Office in Montreal.
President Pagonis and Ioannis Melissanidis, along with Pantelis Stefanidis, Greek Vision publisher, had a cordial meeting and discussed issues of common interest, including culture, education, sports and the Greek Diaspora. The HCGM is planning various events regarding Olympism and culture in the near future, where the golden boy of gymnastics will visit our Community and our students.
Our golden Olympian was invited to Montreal as a guest of Greek Vision Radio 1570AM, Greek Vision Magazine and its publisher, Pantelis Stefanidis.
Ioannis Melissanidis is a retired Greek artistic gymnast and the 1996 Olympic champion on the floor exercise. He was also the 1994 European Champion on floor and the first Greek gymnast ever to medal at the World Championships.
Melissanidis was born in Munich, Germany to parents Evaggelos and Aikaterini, Greek nationals who were working in Germany. When Melissanidis was 2 years old his family returned to Thessaloniki, which he considers his hometown.
Melissanidis began training gymnastics at the age of 9. His parents were not originally supportive of the idea, and, according to Melissanidis, only relented and took him to the Spartakos Thessaloniki gymnastics club after he refused to eat for two days.
At his first Junior European Championships in 1991 Melissanidis placed a modest 18th in the all-around, but earned a bronze medal on the floor exercise, placing ahead of future World Champions Ivan Ivankov and Yordan Yovchev. Two years later, in 1993, he won the floor title at Junior Europeans and placed third on the vault.
In 1994, his first year competing as a senior, Melissanidis enjoyed success on the world stage. He won the floor exercise title at the 1994 European Championships in Prague. At the 1994 World Championships he tied with Great Britain’s Neil Thomas for the silver medal on floor. With this win, Melissanidis became the first Greek gymnast, male or female, to medal at the World Championships. Melissanidis’ fortunes changed after 1994: at the 1995 and 1996 Worlds he did not qualify for a single event final.
However, at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Melissanidis was the surprise winner of the floor exercise gold medal, winning the event with a score of 9.850. The win marked the first Olympics gymnastics medal for Greece since 1906.
Melissanidis continued competing after 1996, winning the vault title at the 1998 European Championships in Saint Petersburg. He represented Greece at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, but, struggling with injury, competed only on vault and high bar.
Melissanidis has two vaults named after him in the Code of Points; both are variations of the Yurchenko double back. In the current Code of Points, his vaults carry A-score difficulty ratings of 6.6 and 7.0.