Journey to Tokyo: Greg Massialas, Olympic Coach of the Year

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Greg Massialas was 10 years old when he first discovered the sport of fencing. His family had just moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, from Greece.

“And I started fencing the first summer,” he said. “I was a competitive swimmer at the time. And so, my dad said, ‘in the summer, do something else.’ Through the Ann Arbor Parks and Rec Department they offered fencing. They said, ‘try it out, see what happens.’ And I really enjoyed it.”

That was in the 1960s. He had no idea that more than 50 years later, fencing would be his life’s work.

Or that his work would be rewarded by being named Team USA’s Olympic Coach of the Year.

“It was great to hear,” said Massialas. “My phone was bombarded, my email on my laptop. A great response from the world community, because I had people from Australia, from China, from all over the place that have been sort of congratulating me.”

It is well-deserved.

The U.S. men’s foil team ended the 2019-2020 season ranked No. 1 in the world. Helping that ranking was the team’s first-ever senior world championship.

“Sort of got the monkey off our back,” said Massialas. “Because we’ve been ranked No. 1 in the world before. In 2018, we won every World Cup, first time that ever happened.”

Now, he is hoping an Olympic gold medal can happen for the first time as well. At the 2016 Olympics in Rio, his team won bronze.

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