Fencing: Drew senior Alexander Massialas qualifies for London Olympics
By Jeremy Balan
Drew School senior Alexander Massialas has played soccer, basketball and has swam for the private high school, but what he did on Jan. 18 in Spain transcends prep sports in San Francisco.
The 6-foot-2, 17-year-old fencer and San Francisco native finished seventh in the La Coruna Foil World Cup to qualify for the upcoming London Olympic Games as a member of the United States National Team.
Massialas, the top-ranked junior and senior foil fencer in the nation, will be the second-youngest athlete to ever compete for the US Fencing team in the Olympics.
“This is one of the dreams I’ve had since I was a little kid, growing up seeing the Olympic rings around my house,” Massialas said. “I always wanted to be an Olympic champion. I’m young and hopefully I can do it this year, but in four years, I’ll make another run at it and maybe again another four years after that.”
Massialas is also following in the footsteps of his father Greg, who was a three-time Olympian for the US Fencing team in 1980, 1984 and 1988, but never medaled.
“My dad did it three times in the past and I’m just glad to follow in his footsteps,” Massialas said. “Hopefully I can bring a medal back for my family, my country and for Drew.”
He first began competing at the age of 7, started competing nationally at 8 and participated in his first international competition at 13. Massialas has since traveled the world to compete and will continue to do so leading up to London, including trips to Venice, Italy and Germany in upcoming weeks.
“I’ve been all over the place,” Massialas said. “There are so many [stories from traveling the world]. We always have a great group of guys going to any event and all of my teammates go out, have a good time and try to do the best we can.”
The 17-year-old won’t be going into the Olympics with dry feet, however, as he has been competing against world-class senior competition for several years. Still, a medal is on his mind and he is training up to five hours a day in preparation.
“I’ll probably be the youngest competitor there, but I’ve medaled at a couple of World Cups this year and I’m shooting for a medal [in London],” Massialas said. “Making the Olympic team is an honor, but to win something for my country would be even better.”
Bound for Stanford after his final semester at Drew, where he will continue to fence, the senior has fully embraced the high school athletic experience, even though he is absent from practices often and misses considerable chunks of school time due to his international competition.
“He’s just an upstanding guy and a great kid,” said Drew athletic director Carlos Reed. “It’s amazing to watch and to know that there are kids who aren’t even the athlete he is that chose not to play school sports in favor of club sports. He could have been a great basketball player, but he wouldn’t have been an Olympic basketball player, so I always tried to keep my coaches in perspective.”
“I love being involved in athletics, not just fencing, and I’m really grateful I’ve been able to play sports at Drew,” Massialas added. “It has all been worth it and Drew has been 100 percent behind me the whole way.”