A 56-year-old woman from Thessaloniki has been doing obstacle races for the last few years. There are no quotation marks in the sentence because both races and obstacles are used in their literal sense.

Maria Mouradidou is the only woman of this age in Greece who participates in obstacle races. She is a master athlete, who in the age category of 50-54 won important distinctions, at the Balkan and world level, something that she is struggling to maintain in the category she is in now, of 55-59 years.

To achieve this he trains hard on a daily basis, rarely enjoys a night out or eating out, invests a lot of money to be able to compete around the world, while having regular access to doctors, physiotherapists, chiropractors and diagnostic tests.

In her life – as she says. gymnastics has always existed and even had a leading role. “I had started sports in general from a very young age, but I ended up in competitive gymnastics at the age of 10. Although for this particular sport it is considered an old age, it quickly became apparent that I am very good and I was scoring pan-Hellenic victories and distinctions”, says Maria Mouratidou to the Athenian/Macedonian News Agency.

A few years later he switched to athletics, where he engaged in speed events. Her admission to the TEFAA department of AUTH was a one-way street for Ms. Mouradidou, while in parallel with the school, she was involved in instrumental gymnastics training.

The first and only interruption she made in this permanent relationship with sports was during the performance of her marital and maternal duties.

The first contact with the marathon that opened a new window on the world for her

When her two children were old enough, she was appointed a gymnast in training in Viotia and at the same time she was involved in crossfit in Chalkida where she lived and even took part in competitions and again actively entered into coaching. On a trip from there to nearby Athens, he found himself at the finish line of an authentic marathon.

“Then I decided that at some point in my life I have to finish a marathon and the real one at that” she said and her word became a promise to herself. He began intensive preparation and in 2016 took part in the original marathon. “Even though I was a sprinter, which is at odds with the many kilometers, I finished it successfully and it was a very emotional experience,” she says.

After being posted to Thessaloniki, she accepted a friend’s offer to participate in the Balkan Championship of Veteran Athletes (Bulgaria 2017), which raised the bar of her goals even higher. “This thought stimulated my mind and I decided to go. I chose to compete in the 100 meters. Without having any experience or coaching guidance I came fourth, while in the 4 times 100m relay we took first place” he says proudly.

The success made her … sweet and then she looked to find the sport that expresses her the most in order to devote herself to it. “I was good at speed, endurance and strength, so a good friend of mine introduced me to the heptathlon, which is something complex and includes everything,” she notes. From this, Maria Mouratidou chose the most difficult of sports, the hurdles.

Conscious race with obstacles guided by the coach of V. Patoulidou

The big chapter of her life, with the title “obstacles”, opened in 2018, when she had already turned 50 years old. Her first competitive appearance was in Bulgaria, where she met old hurdler champion Stelios Bisba. “He taught me to … crawl over obstacles. He explained to me what they are, how to get through them and taught me to love them. Since then they entered my heart and never came out again” he says with emotion.

With better nutrition, better training guidance and very difficult preparation, her participation in the Balkan Games in Slovenia followed. “There I came first in the 80 meter hurdles and second in the 100 meter” he points out.

In the first pan-Hellenic championship in which he participated in Alexandroupoli, he met the great coach of Greece in hurdles, Plutarchos Saraslanidis. “I asked him to take over for me and the fact that he accepted is the greatest honor for an athlete, given that he brought an Olympic medal to Greece, as the coach of Voula Patoulidou,” he explains.

The collaboration between the two continues to this day and his interventions in her technique were decisive. “When he took me over he changed my whole running, because I was running wrong and I started to become a technical athlete” she says.

She boldly took part in her first world indoor championship in 2019 in Torun, Poland. “There I was competing with gymnasts who used to belong to the national teams of their countries and were still training. However, I managed to set a Balkan record and finish 7th,” he says.

A course full of great successes and … failures

In the following years, one Balkan record came after another, while he has at least 35 Panhellenic records in the 100 and 200 meters, in the length and in the hurdles – small and large.

“A very nice moment in my life was the Balkan games in Serbia in 2020, where I performed at world level, which took me to 6th place in the world ranking in two events: 60m and 60m hurdles” he underlines.

Accordingly, the toughest moment of her life was her experience at last year’s Finland games in the 300m hurdles. Her performance two months before the games in Alexandroupolis, foretold that it would send her to third place in the world. “Unfortunately, before the warm-up I suffered a serious injury and didn’t even enter the race. My tears flowed as I watched her take place and when the announcer from the loudspeakers said that in corridor 6 is Mouradidou from Greece, I was in the stands because I could not even walk” she remembers bitterly, because based on the times of the other participants, she estimates that she would win one of the medals.

However, this misfortune made her stubborn and she promised herself once again that she would come back, which happened a few months ago in Torun, where she finished sixth. “While in qualifying I had the third best performance and during the warm-up I made great passes, during the race I got so fired up that I hit three of the five barriers, which cost me precious seconds,” he explains.

Through the eternal journey in the field of sports, Maria Mouratidou made friends from all over the world and managed to gain the appreciation, respect and admiration of her friends and family every day.

She now declares herself an obstacle and says that she is not going to stop as long as her body can take it. “Abroad, I understood how high they value timeless sports. “Seeing people in their 70s, 80s, 85s, even 90s doing awesome and awesome times, I said I’m not allowed to stop unless I can’t run,” he says.