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The last stand

Updated: Sep 26, 2022

Max Studer, Panagiotis Bitados, Nicola Spirig, Andrea Salvisberg July, 2021

Meet Zarina and Vassilis.

Vassilis was Greece's last competive international level triathlete. He represented Greece in both the 2000 and 2004 Olympic games.

Zarina has the unique resume of representing at the highest level in three countries, Soviet Union, Ukraine and then Greece. This couple are a team in life and triathlon.

While I knew Vassilis during his triathlon competitive career, we linked up with Trisutto in 2017, more out of his frustration with the disintegration of Greek triathlon, as he toiled away at trying to keep the competitive side of the sport alive. In 2008 he went to the Beijing Olympics as the Greek coach.

From there, as his home countries economy crashed, so did the leadership of the triathlon federation. After 10 years of trying, he lost faith that the failing of the federation situation has lead to the lack of a pathway for young athletes to once again have the opportunity to follow his competitive legacy; of not just attending, but also competing at the Olympic games. Vassilis turned to Trisutto in 2017, to see if with our help we could privately do what the federation could not.

Knowing his and Zarinas passion, and struggle we agreed, travelling to Greece to conduct a junior camp; joined with his friends from his era when racing, Reto Hug and Nicola Spirig to try and kickstart interest in triathlon in Greece.

Nicola Spirig Kids Cup, Greece, 2017

We all travelled to Greece to run a Nicola Spirig Kids Cup to stimulate kids opportunity to race their first triathlon. This was followed up with another in Cyprus.

Trisutto Cyprus Camps 2016-2018

At Trisutto we then ran camps in Cyprus with Nicola Spirig and Daniela Ryf to follow up the initial interest. Vassilis and Zarina were in attendance at all the fixtures learning to further develop, not only triathlon, but also to improve their level of coaching by observing the champions and many other good pros at work. Annie Haug was even in attendance. Trisutto coach Perry Agass took the plunge and moved his winter coaching operation to the island.

Coach Perry, squad and camps in Cyprus

Vassilis and Zarina had made the very hard steps with little money in their bank accounts to give it one last try, to lift their country once more by working with the kids.

River Swim - Trisutto Training Camp, Greece

While the work at this level is arduous and looks unrewarding, their efforts were compensated by the joy of watching kids exercise and having fun in the sport they competed in for over 20 years. Patience and persisitance does pay off.

This year, Vassilis rang me and said:

‘I have one of the kids I want you to see. Coach I think if he was given a chance with your Olympians to see what is needed to be a world class athlete, I think he may one day wear the Greek colours again at the Olympic triathlon.’

They bought the lad to Switzerland for what was to be a 3 day experience, which turned in to 7 days, then turned into 14 days…, 'till the money ran out.

I remember well Vassilis saying to me, "if we could just get one athlete to the top level, it could reinvent triathlon in Greece again”

Well coach Sutto, was impressed with the work by Vassilis and Zarina and the commitment of this young man, Panagiotis. His journey is one for a motivational story of attitude overcoming adversity in itself. But for now, is suffice to say, the boy from a little Greek island has a big future in front of him, should he add patience to his persistence.

Vassilis and Zarina should be proud of the work they have done with very little help.

We at Trisutto want to encourage their social programme to keep going in Greece if possible and to add to the groups we already provide coaching assistance to. However these last three blogs are to give you, our followers a preview of what has been going on over the years to help others less fortunate than ourselves, but to also help understand, when we announce very soon my personal new direction after these 2020 Olympics.

What I can say now, is that Panagiotis and his coaches was the final decision maker for me joining with the coaches you have seen in the previous blogs.

Coach Rob, Coach Cali, Coach Melvin and now Coaches Vassilis and Zarina, whom have put in so many years in their countries, unselfishly helping provide swim lessons and coaching guidance to those who desperately need exercise, to make a small difference in their lives, to go full time into making the Olympic dream possible for some of these programs. I point this out, as we are now developing, a non profit foundation to help these underpriveldged athletes fulfil their potential. I will be calling on the Trisutto family to help me make this a real possibility. Stay tuned for the announcement with in the coming weeks. It’s time for us to make a real difference, using triathlon as the vehicle.

Thank you for reading,


Postnote: Trisutto has a proud history and an ongoing commitment to the development and growth of athletes worldwide, with sport and triathlon a platform for health and fitness and fostering high performance.

Visit our Athlete Development Projects page on for more.

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