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George Poulos

Stephen Girdis, Sailor. Roll of Distinction. 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. 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.

The Girdis family derive from Constantinople. They left following the turmoil surrounding events in 1922.

Stephen's grandparents on his mothers side were Steve and Helen Christianos - from Mylopotamos, Kythera. For many years they ran a mixed business in Boggabri, New South Wales. Boggabri is located in North Western NSW, lying halfway between Gunnedah and Narrabri on the main road north, which connects with the Newell Hwy. It has a current population of just under 1000.

Steve and Helen Christianos had three children, one of whom died young. The surviving daughters were Kanella, and Effie, Christian(os). Effie, is Stephen's mother.

Stephen Girdis has been inducted in the Roll of Distinction category.

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

Stephen Girdis was born in Sydney on 17 October 1960 and was introduced to sailing by his father at the age of 6, sailing at the Vaucluse Amateur Sailing 12 Foot Club. In his younger days he started on the Sabots and continued on to the Flying 11's, becoming an Australian runner-up in the Flying 11 class.

Girdis then moved up into the 12 foot skiffs and had a stint in the Olympic 470 class, before settling on the J-24 class - an international one design keelboat; perhaps the most popular keel boat. At this class in Australia he sailed at local, state and national regatta level.

He excelled in this type of category, and has represented Australia at the J-24 World Championships on four occasions, including at Sardinia, Italy; Buenos AAires, Brazil; Genoa, Italy, and in 2000 at Newport, Road Island, USA.

In 2000 he became Australian champion, after winning the J-24 Australian Championships, held at Lake Macquarie. Past winners of the event include Ian Murray. At the 2000 World Championships he skippered the Australian team. As of the year 2000, Stephen had sailed in one Sydney to Hobart race.

His uncle, Nick Girdis, CBE, also a sailor, introduced "Bill" Psaltis to sailing. Nick lives in Brisbane, and is also an inductee in the Greek Australian Sports Hall of Fame. Coincidentally, he too married a Kytherian.

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 the original photograph in Pinax.

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