SF native will fence in Olympics

March 24, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A San Francisco teenager received the thrilling news that he'll be fencing for the United States in the Beijing Olympics, a dream he's had since he was ten.

"It was nice to know that after all the hard work that my coach and I put in and my parents and everyone, that it amounted to making the Olympics, which was pretty amazing," said Gerek Meinhardt.

At 17, Gerek Meinhardt will be the youngest American Olympic fencer ever. He'll be the only one representing the U.S. in the men's foil competition.

The San Francisco native started fencing competitively when he was only ten. His coach Greg Massialas is a three time Olympian.

"When he had mentioned the Olympics I had asked him if he could sign me up for them," said Meinhardt.

"10 and a half years old! I laughed you know and I told him, "You know it takes, a lot of effort and a lot of work to get to that point," said coach Massialas.

Over the years, effort and hard work paid off. Meinhardt is known for his fast footwork and his unorthodox style.

He's very creative and comes up with different things that would not be normally thought of.

"You have to be smart and quick thinking, analyzing, changing and there's also the athleticism involved in moving back and forth," said Meinhardt.

Not only is he a great athlete, he posted one of the highest SAT scores ever among fencing recruits at Notre Dame, where he'll be attending this fall.

"I think the thing we're most proud of is he's been able to do it while mastering his grades and handling his school work," said Gerek's father, Kurt Meinhardt.

The young fencer is aware of China's human rights record and the controversy over Tibet, but he says sports and politics don't mix.

"The athletes should just go out and compete and whoever does best should be rewarded. It should be based on that," said Gerek Meinhardt.

Meinhardt's mother is Chinese, so as an Asian American, going to Beijing for the Olympics makes it even more special.


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