When athletes achieve greatness on the biggest stage, there are always many others involved in the journey, including their coaches, who also have put in incredible amounts of hours and energy behind the scenes.
To acknowledge these efforts which resulted in four Olympic medals in Rio de Janeiro, the United States Olympic Committee awarded seven members of USA Fencing with the Order of Ikkos.
Established just before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the Order of Ikkos gives each U.S. Olympic or Paralympic medalist the opportunity to recognize one individual for his or her role in helping them achieve their dreams. Each coach received a medal uniquely designed to represent the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio.
“USA Fencing’s coaches were a critical piece in our athletes achieving world-class success,” said Kate Reisinger (Colorado Springs, Colo.), USA Fencing’s director of sports performance. “The U.S. Olympic Fencing Team won four medals in Rio – one of our best results in history – and it’s important to see the hard work and dedication of our coaches be honored as each of the athletes presented Team USA’s staff with medals of their own.”
A three-time Olympian himself, Greg Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) earned the first award of the Games after coaching son Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) to the individual men’s foil silver medal on the second night of the nine-day competition. Just the fourth U.S. man to win individual silver in fencing at the Olympic Games, Massialas made one of the most incredible comebacks of the Games, overcoming a 14-8 deficit in the quarterfinals to secure his position in the medal rounds. His win set the tone for a week that would include many historic results.
Three days later, Daryl Homer (Bronx. N.Y.) made history as well when he also won the silver medal and became the first U.S. man to win an individual men’s saber medal since 1984. One hundred and twelve years since the last individual men’s saber silver came back to the U.S., Homer selected five-time Olympic Coach Yury Gelman (Rockaway, N.Y.) as the Order of the Ikkos recipient.
Men’s foil continued its success in the team event, defeating 2012 Olympic and 2015 World Champion Italy to bring home the bronze medal for the first time since the 1932 Games. As Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.) recognized Coach Greg Massialas, Alex Massialas chose to give his award to training partner David Willette (San Francisco, Calif). Miles Chamley-Watson (New York City, N.Y.) and Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.) each acknowledged coaches Simon Gershon (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Dan Kellner (Brooklyn, N.Y.), respectively.
After the U.S. Women’s Saber Team followed its 2008 bronze medal win with another bronze in Rio, each member of the squad honored her personal coach. Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.), who became the only U.S. fencer to take away hardware at three different Olympic Games, gave the honor to Ed Korfanty (Portland, Ore.) Korfanty has received the Order of Ikkos three times now as he coached the team that won bronze in Beijing and was Zagunis’s coach when she won individual gold that same year. Although Zagunis won gold in 2004, the Order of Ikkos was not introduced until 2008.Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) recognized Akhi Spencer-El (Bergenfield, N.J.) whileDagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.) and Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.) both chose to honor Gelman for his efforts as they both won their first Olympic medals.
Ikkos, who the award is named after, was a pentathlon coach and the first known Olympic coach in Ancient Greece.
USA Fencing Order of Ikkos Award Winners for 2016 are as follows:
Men’s Individual Foil
Silver: Alexander Massialas
Ikkos Recipient: Greg Massialas
Men’s Individual Saber
Silver: Daryl Homer
Ikkos Recipient: Yury Gelman
Men’s Team Foil
Bronze: Alexander Massialas, Gerek Meinhardt, Miles Chamley-Watson, Race Imboden
Ikkos Recipients: David Willette, Greg Massialas, Simon Gershon, Dan Kellner
Women’s Team Saber
Bronze: Mariel Zagunis, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Dagmara Wozniak, Monica Aksamit
Ikkos Recipients: Ed Korfanty, Akhi Spencer-El, Yury Gelman