Posted on August 13 2016
Olympic silver medalist and Physiclo co-founder, Keeth Smart understands the importance of preparing for a competition. Keeth made it his mission to help many of the Rio athletes maximize their training for the Rio games by outfitting them with Physiclo's resistance technology.
From the left: Monica Aksamit, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Dagmara Wozniak and Mariel Zagunis
USA Olympic Fencer, Monica Aksamit believes four unique individuals helped her get to where she is now and without them she wouldn’t have made it to Rio.
“I don’t know what he saw in me!” says Aksamit when we asked her about her key mentor and first coach, Janusz Mlynek, who helped her in her early years of fencing at the Polish American Fencing School.
“My coach, Mlynek, was really good with kids in general. He would coach us in Polish, which is why I think my mom really wanted me to fence” says Aksamit, because she grew up in Poland. “He helped me understand the sport and he ALWAYS believed in me,” she stated, “he told my mom, you will see, keep believing in her and one day something will come of her.”
“When my mom told me that, I thought wow, he really believes in me. I have to keep doing this,” says Aksamit.
*Olympic Silver Medalist and our Co-Founder, Keeth Smart commented on Aksamit’s “underdog” reputation throughout the qualifying season. Smart says, “Monika was an underdog and remained so inspiring because she never doubted her ability and committed to work hard until the very last qualification tournament. Monica literally came from behind at the last qualification tournament in Seoul, Korea and had an amazing result to qualify for the Rio Olympics.”
Follow Monica on Instagram at @monicaaksamit
When we asked her how she overcame the resistance she faced in her life, during these critical times of training Aksamit simply said “It was mainly my mom (who helped her). She was the only reason I got through any hardship. Now that I’m older I know the financial trouble we were having. My grandfather was from Poland and would give us money to help me get to certain tournaments and my club (Polish American Fencing School) gave me a discount. Even my current and Olympic coaching legend, Yury Gelman, saw talent in me and said he would help me because he really believed in me.”
It wasn’t till she won gold at the U17 National Championships (also referred to as the Junior Olympic Cadet tournament) that she began to see in herself what her mom and other coaches saw. “After my first gold medal on a national scale, that’s when I knew I had potential,” says Aksamit.
“I was never, ever drawn to any other sports, I certainly didn’t like to watch sports and I never saw a sport I wanted to do,” says Aksamit about her time before fencing.
“My cousins would kick soccer balls at me and make me stand in the goal, when I was younger. I didn’t really enjoy that too much,” she said chuckling.
Her mother brought her, out of the blue, to her first fencing club when she was 9 years old. “I don’t remember if my mother told me where we were going. I just knew it was my mom’s idea,” says Aksamit.
When she arrived at the fencing club her first day Aksamit recalls, “I was taller than all the other children, they handed me a sword and said go hit the other kids. I ended up beating all of them because I was taller, and I liked it. So, I decided to stick to it.”
Smart says, “The Women's Saber team event is one of America's strongest teams for USA Fencing. They are expected to win a medal and are going into the event ranked #2 in the world!”