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22 April 2019

Alumnus and MBA student of CITY College at 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 triathlon in Greece

Interview with MBA student and Ironman participant, Eleftheria Vekiloglou

Interview with alumnus and Ironman participant, Nikolaos Tsokanos

Congratulations to CITY College/Sheffield graduate, Mr. Nikolaos Tsokanos, and MBA student, Ms. Eleftheria Vekiloglou, who took the challenge and participated in 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 triathlon that took place in Greece. Special congratulations go to Eleftheria for winning the bronze medal!

CITY College/Sheffield graduate, Mr. Nikolaos Tsokanos at 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 triathlon in GreeceMBA student, Ms. Eleftheria Vekiloglou at 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 triathlon in Greece

The top international triathlon event took place in Costa Navarino at the Messinian area of Peloponnese, on 14 April 2019. The athletes embarked with 1.9km swimming at deep blue of the Ionian sea and continued with 90km ride and 21.1km run, making a total of 113km. More than 1.500 athletes participated while the race was attended by more than 3.500 people.

The participation of Nikolaos Tsokanos was supported by CITY College International Faculty

The participation of Nikolaos was supported by CITY College International Faculty

It was the first time for Greece to host the world’s leading triathlon event, the Ironman, joining more than 60 countries over the world from all 6 continents. More than 1 million athletes in total participate in the 260 Ironman events taking place annually.

Mr. Nikolaos Tsokanos completed his undergraduate studies at the Business Administration & Economics Department of CITY College International Faculty and today is owner and General Manager of Veterinary Wholesaler - TSOKANOS SA. Ms. Eleftheria Vekiloglou is student of the Executive MBA programme in Thessaloniki and owner of Nirali Ltd.

Once again, warm congratulations to both Nikos and Eleftheria!


Interview with MBA student and Ironman participant, Eleftheria Vekiloglou

How did you decided to participate?
Two years ago I was inspired by a presentation about Triathlon, from the World Champion, Christos Garefis, who also became my trainer. I have been an athlete all my life but this was totally different and very challenging, so I started training  and participating in events and races that where held in Greece. When IRONMAN announced that they will held a race for the time in Greece, I decided to participate with no second thought. 

Special congratulations go to Eleftheria Vekiloglou for winning the bronze medal!

How long have you been preparing for it?
I had 10 months to prepare and train, and I knew that it would be hard, because of the difficulty of the race and also the competition, but I wasn't affected by that at all, I was very sure that I wanted to do it.

Describe the feelings you felt.
When the big day arrived I was feeling a little anxious but very sure of my self. I know I am an achiever and never give up on my targets no matter the difficulties, so I started off my race and realized that it takes a lot of courage, a lot of persistence, effort and belief in your self that you can achieve anything you want if you try hard for this. I kept remembering the words of my trainer that we do this for our physical and mental health, and I was feeling so strong and ready to face any difficulty.

And at the finish line?
When I was reaching the finish line I was feeling so lucky to be a part of this race.  Achieving one’s goal is such a great feeling and seeing all athletes that where racing with me, Greeks, English, Americans, Germans, Italians, Spanish, and many more I realised that everyone can achieve his goals if he believes in himself.   

What about the lessons learnt from the Ironman experience?
This experience has changed my life to the better. It was thrilling, positive, motivating and unique. 

Would you do it again?
I will participate for sure next year again, and hope for many people to decide to change their life and the way they see themselves.
As IRONMAN'S motto says: Anything is Possible!!


Interview with alumnus and Ironman participant, Nikolaos Tsokanos

CITY College/Sheffield graduate, Mr. Nikolaos Tsokanos at 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 triathlon in GreeceHow did you decide to participate?
I like to challenge myself mentally as well as physically by setting vigorous goals and trying my best to achieve them. As ancient Greeks used to say: “νους υγιείς εν σώματι υγιεί”  (A healthy mind needs a healthy body). After successfully participating in marathons, cycling and running events, the next step was to test myself in the hardest single day sports event in the world, the Ironman triathlon (swim, bike, run). When I heard that the Ironman will be orginised for the first time ever in Greece, the choice was already made. I was one of the first to register.

How long have you been preparing for it?
I have been preparing for almost a year. However, I increased the intensity of my workouts during the last three months before the race where I was training for up to 17 hours per week while burning over 25.000kcal. You have to be in excellent fitness condition should you wish to pursue the Ironman endeavour, otherwise you run the risk of serious injuries or even death (happened many times during Ironmen unfortunately...). In addition, smart nutrition plays a significant role in the preparation of endurance events such as the Ironman.

What were the greater lessons learnt from the Ironman experience?
Challenge your limits, or as Sheffield moto says: “Challenge the impossible” With hard systematic work, you can divide and allocate your workload strategically and achieve your expected results. You know, business management and professional sports have a lot in common. Devotion and persistence are unequivocally two of the most important ingredients of success. Time-management plays a pivotal role in balancing work-sports-family responsibilities.

What where the biggest hardships you faced?
During preparation phase, the biggest hardship was to combine training volume with work-load. I run my own family business and putting all eggs in one basket is not always easy. I was waking up every day at 5am doing my morning workouts, then heading to work for the rest of the day and then resuming training during evening or late night. I failed many times, passing out during workouts due to overtraining, missing sales targets at work etc. but I never thought to quit. Having the thought of crossing the finish line deeply engraved in my mind, I stood up and tried even harder to come closer to my goal.
During race day, we faced extreme weather conditions in the swim start with over 2 meters high waves which led over 500 athletes to quit the race early. The bike course was really demanding with over 1.100m altitude gains. In the run, high temperature coupled with humidity challenged our limits both physically and mentally.

Describe the feelings you felt.
From discomfort, fatigue, fractured thinking, declining mood to happiness, satisfaction, achievement, gratitude - the feelings are changing with great speed inside you. Success and failure are so close to each-other as you are approaching the limits of your performance. It took me 6 and half hours to finish and it never crossed my mind to quit. Despite the hardships, I really enjoyed the race along beautiful Greek sceneries and amazing people who were supporting us throughout the whole race.

And at the the finish line? 
One of the greatest moments in my life, totally exhilarating!!! All your efforts, sweat blood and tears, are worthwhile as soon as you pass that finish line and you hear this voice: “Nikolaos, you are an IRONMAN!!!”

Would you do it again?
Definitely! My next goal is to participate in the full Ironman (swim 3,8km, bike 180km, run 42,2km). That’s the hardest single-day endurance event in the world and may take up to 18 hours to finish!! As the Ironman moto says: “Anything is possible”.