NEW JERSEY — The journey to the Olympics can be a long road.
That’s the case for a fencer from New Jersey, who will be watching the Tokyo games and waiting for her chance to compete. In this week’s journey to Tokyo, Marielena Balouris shares her story of bi-continental training as she chases her Olympic dream.
From New Jersey to Greece and back again. That’s the life Anika Tsapatsaris has been living since high school.
Anika Tsapatsaris, Olympic hopeful, said, “So that was a little tough, being a high schooler in New Jersey, having to take weekends off and kind of upping the limit on my absences, coming once a month to Greece, just to maintain that ranking.”
Tsapatsaris is a dual citizen and now competes on two fencing teams — Columbia university’s and the Greek national team. She was introduced to the sport 10 years ago, when she was in 5th grade. She fell in love with both the physical and mental challenges of it.
“They call it physical chess, but it takes a lot of brain power and brain energy, so it’s not just something where you’re the strongest, fastest, you’ll win. it’s all about anticipating the reaction of your opponent and the reacting accordingly within milliseconds.”
When Columbia announced that classes would be online for this school year, she decided to temporarily move to Greece. She balances virtual classes with training sessions — which she’s gotten creative with.
“Because gyms have been closed, I transformed one of the apartment bedrooms into a home gym. It brings me so much joy just to be able to get out those endorphins every day. it helps me think better.”
She isn’t eyeing the Tokyo Olympics because she’ll still be in school and competing for Columbia. Instead, she’s hoping to represent Greece in either 2024 or 2028 game proving that her years of hard work have paid off.
“To even make an Olympic qualifier, to make an Olympic team would be the most incredible way of saying “yes, you can” do it.”