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George Poulos

Jack Lewis. Ioannis Gerakitis. Marathon runner, walker. Roll of Excellence. Greek Australian Sports Hall of Fame.

As notified in a previous entry, and re-iterated in less detail at the conclusion of this entry - in the year 2000, the Greek -Australian Sports Hall of Fame was inaugurated.

Many athletes of the original 166 are obviously of Kytherian origin - Psaltis's, Samios, Zantiotis, Andronicus: but the place of origin in Greece of many others - particularly those born in Australia - has not been indicated in the biographies outlined in the original list. (How would you pick Jack Lewis as a Kytherian?) Determining how many Kytherians were inducted in the original list remains a matter for future research. To further complicate matters, some of the athletes may have had a parent, or grandparent of Kytherian origin. (A good example is Stephen Girdis, inducted for sailing prowess, whose mother is Kytherian.)

From Pinax, The Greek Australian Sports Hall of Fame, Volume 1, reproduced with the permission of the editor, Steve Georgakis.

Jack Lewis. Ioannis Gerakitis.

Marathon runner, walker

Gerakitis was born in Kythera, Greece, and migrated to Australia in 1908. In Sydney he joined the New South Wales Sports Club's Gymnasium, before becoming a member of the Sydney Harriers, and amateur long distance running club based in Newtown.

In July 1909 he ran his first major race, billed as the Second Annual Open Race, from Parramatta to Sydney, which was later recognised as the first Marathon in Australia. Gerakitis finished third.

In 1910, Gerakitis took part in Queensland's first marathon, at the Australian Athletics Championships in Brisbane, and also in Victoria's first Marathon.

In 1911, Gerakitis joined the East Melbourne Harriers, (hence the EMH across his singlet), and entered Victoria's third Marathon, winning the event from a field of 34 starters, in a time of 2 hours, 59 minutes, and 30 seconds, just five minutes outside the Australian record, and twelve minutes outside the record at the time.

Selected to represent Australia in the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games, Gerakitis rejected nomination because he would have had to renounce his Greek citizenship, something he was unwilling to do.

In 1914, he broke the Australian record for the 50km walk.

In 2000, he was inducted into the Greek Australian Sports Hall of fame.

For more detailed biographies, supplied by Hugh Gilchrist, and George Vardas, see other entries for Jack Lewis, in this Sporting Life section, and under People, subsection, High Achievers.

Background, Greek Australian Sports Hall of Fame

In September 2000, through the initiative of the Millenium Heritage Council, the Church established the Greek Australian Sports Hall of Fame in order to record the sporting achievements attained by Australians of Greek heritage who have distinguished themselves at either a National or International level.

The First Inductees

As a result, 166 sportspeople were inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame, in the presence of the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia, His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos, and the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. John Howard, during the unforgettable Millenium Ball held on Saturday, 2nd September, 2000, at the Westin Hotel in Sydney.

The evening was a historic milestone that revealed how vast and truly astonishing the contribution to Australian and world sport by citizens of Helllenic descent is, in an amazing variety of disciplines. Sportspeople travelled from all over Australia to attend the memorable event and felt enormous pride and honour at their Induction.

The Commemorative Book

A thouroughly researched book entitled The Greek Australian Sports Hall of Fame - Pinax, Volume I, coordinated by the Millenium Heritage Sports Committee and edited by academic, Dr Steve Georgakis, was also launched on the evening with the most fascinating details about each Inductee's accomplishments.

Pinax is the Greek word for list. It was used in ancient times when referring to the record of the Olympic Games victors whose names were inscribed on a column at Olympia in Greece. This informative book was published with the generous assitance of the New South Wales government through the Office of the Premier, the Hon. Bob Carr. Only a small number of books remain, however, since the interest generated by the concept attracted the attention of Hellenes around the world. It was especially appreciated by athletes and officials during the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. The Committee is now looking forward to the second edition.

[Dr Steve Georgakis is also the author of Sport and the Australian Greek. A Historical Study of Ethnicity, Gender and Youth, as well as numerous other articles on the subject].

Note: The photograph above is not the original photograph in Pinax.

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