NEA IONIA, Greece -- As relatives tell it, it was the stuff
of Greek tragedy: A love-struck young man threw himself off his
balcony Monday, two days after a quarrel prompted his girlfriend --
a member of Greece's Olympic judo team -- to jump from the same
"He had very intense feelings about the girl. He was very much
in love," said Nikos Drakopoulos, a printer who lives across the
hall from the couple. "He could not see himself living if she was
Giorgos Chrisostomides, 24, was on life-support at an Athens
hospital with injuries to his head and back. His high-school
sweetheart, 20-year-old judo champion Eleni Ioannou, was at another
hospital in critical condition with multiple fractures to her head
The couple had been inseparable since Ioannou moved into
the apartment Chrisostomides shares with his grandparents just over
a year ago.
Chrisostomides was raised by his grandparents after his father
died and his mother remarried. He lost his job as an auto mechanic
and hadn't been able to find another one, relatives said.
Neighbors said the couple spent a lot of time in their apartment
in the working-class Nea Ionia suburb of Athens, listening to loud
rock music. When they went out, they went out together.
Ioannou, a student at the Athens Gymnastics Academy, had become
somewhat of a local celebrity since she qualified for Greece's
Olympic judo team in the 172-pound-plus competition. She had been
scheduled to move into the Olympic Village on Wednesday.
"Everyone was proud of her. She helped kids in the neighborhood
to have dreams," Drakopoulos said.
Friends and relatives said the couple's argument on Saturday was
minor, and they were shocked at its tragic consequences.
"It was a small fight, something silly," said Chrisostomides'
cousin and downstairs neighbor, Paul Michaelides. "It started
about who would play solitaire on the computer."
The fight escalated, and Ioannou eventually hurled herself from
the balcony, they said. She fell onto a concrete driveway that
winds behind the apartment building.
Police questioned Chrisostomides and released him. But
Chrisostomides was inconsolable.
"He was depressed. He was very upset," said Evangelia
Michaelides, Chrisostomides' great-aunt and neighbor.
On Sunday, Chrisostomides' grief got the better of him.
Screaming, "I'm going to find Eleni!", he ran toward the balcony,
but friends and relatives restrained him before he could jump.
Chrisostomides' grandmother took him to see a therapist Monday
morning, and he was to return on Tuesday, relatives said.
But back home, they said, as Chrisostomides was having lunch
with his grandmother, he suddenly stood and bolted for the balcony.
"He was sitting there eating, and he just got up and jumped,"
Michaelides said. "His grandparents were there, but they couldn't
Chrisostomides' mother and grandmother were visiting him at the
hospital Monday afternoon, leaving his grandfather alone in
apartment Gamma-3. The old man, answering the intercom, said he
didn't have anything to say.
"Leave me in my misery," he said.