New Jersey fencer living, training in Greece; hoping to represent country in future Olympics

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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.

From New Jersey to Greece and back again. That’s the life Anika Tsapatsaris has been living since high school.

“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,” said fencer Anika Tsapatsaris. “Coming once a month to Greece, just to maintain that ranking, so I didn’t have the benefit of training with the Greek team here. I would just come in and fence for the sake of maintaining 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. Tsapatsaris fell in love with both the physical and mental challenges of it.

“They call it physical chess but it takes a lot of brainpower and brain energy, so it’s not just something where you’re the strongest, fastest, you’ll win,” said Tsapatsaris. “It’s all about anticipating the reaction of your opponent and 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,” she said. “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 the 2024 or 2028 Games, 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 and there was no reason to, that’s the reason why you didn’t quit when you were 10, 11,” said Tsapatsaris.

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