One is a rower who clinched a gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics and made all of Greece proud.

The other is a weight lifter who, with tears in his eyes, announced his decision to withdraw from the sport and emotionally moved all of Greece.

Both expressed issues of urgent concern for the state.

“From the athletic club and the federation I had support, but none from the state,” said Olympics gold medal winner Stefanos Ntouskos.

“I was ashamed to visit my physical therapist and to tell him that I had no money,” said Thodoris Iakovidis (photo).

The two athletes and many more of their colleagues bring to the fore a contradiction and a certain hypocrisy.

It is unacceptable for the state to celebrate when an athlete succeeds and to abandon him or her and to be indifferent the rest of the time.

These observations do not justify the perpetuation of our national “sport” of shifting between extremes – from glory to abandonment, from over-protection to indifference, from giving a top athlete a civil service job to forcing him or her to stop athletic practice in order to make a living.

As NBA star Yannis Antetokounpo said, “You must build up the people near you and not demolish them.”

That does not apply only to athletics federations and the Hellenic Olympic Committee.

Above all it concerns the state.

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