Friday marked six months from the Tokyo Olympics, and for one Bay Area family full of Olympians, they’re going for the gold.
The Massialas Foundation fencing program in San Francisco is world-renowned. Greg Massialas is a fencing legend and the coach for Team USA.
“So the Olympics have really been part of my life and my family for so long,” Massialas said.
His son, Alexander, is at the top of the sport, winning silver and bronze in the Rio Olympics, and gold at the world championships in 2019. Then, last year, while ramping up for the Tokyo games, the pandemic hit.
“In fencing you need to be able to adapt to your opponent, the referee, and the situation,” Alexander Massialas said. “This is just another adaptation we have to make.”
Greg knows what it’s like. He was set to make his Olympic debut at the 1980 games in Russia, until the United States decided to boycott it.
“Unfortunately, as soon as I qualified, then the games didn’t happen,” he said. “So I understand the disappointment to be ready for those situations.”
COVID safety protocols forced practice outside, though the two of them can train inside because they live in the same household. And that’s a problem because other countries are continuing like normal.
“For us, there’s no tournaments, no nothing, no fencing,” he said. “So we’ve been able to make the best of the situation. I think we’ve done okay, but it’s not ideal.”
“Finding unconventional ways to train, whether that meant taking a break when you thought you would be going full throttle,” he said.
Rumors are swirling among athletes that the games could be delayed again or cancelled, but Alexander is focusing on his dream.
“The mindset really is taking things one day at a time, taking things in stride, and making sure you don’t stress the things that are out of your control,” he said.
He has already qualified. His sister, Sabrina, is a fencer too.
She’s still fighting for a spot on Team USA for her first Olympics. Together they live and breathe the sport.
“I think we have a great shot at winning the gold,” Greg said.
The entire family is preparing for whenever they get their shot.
“For me, it was not a dream denied,” said Alexander. “It was just a dream deferred. I’m hoping in six months I’ll be able to go out there and give it my best efforts.”