Meet Monica Aksamit. Monica shares her passion for fencing, winning an Olympic bronze medal, and fundraising!
Sam: Thank you for your time! When did you start fencing?
Monica Aksamit: You’re so welcome! I started fencing at the age of nine. My first fencing coach was a client at the bank that my mom worked at at the time. She brought me in and I fell in love!
Sam: Awesome! Could you share a little about your experience competing in the 2016 Summer Olympics?
Monica Aksamit: It’s hard to put that experience into words. It was truly a dream come true. I decided that I wanted to be an Olympian at the age of 14. Being surrounded by the world’s greatest was an incredible feeling.
Walking in the opening ceremonies only a few feet away from the flag bearer, Michael Phelps, was overwhelming to say the least. And on top of that my team medaled, which I still have to pinch myself whenever I think about it.
Sam: You made headlines for fundraising to get back to the originally scheduled 2020 Olympics. I think most people would think financials to return wouldn’t be a challenge for a former medalist. Why is that the case for so many athletes?
Monica Aksamit: Unfortunately, Olympians aren’t supported as much as they should, in my opinion. Sponsors only care about us during Olympic year and meanwhile in order to be able to perform we have to train and compete all 4 years. I myself was shocked to be in the same position after medaling as before even becoming an Olympian.
Sam: What did you do to build a fundraising network?
Monica Aksamit: I wouldn’t say that I have a fundraising network. I have built an online community of amazing people on social media. They support me through everything. I have always been nothing but honest and genuine with them and they seem to appreciate that!
Sam: How has your training been impacted by the pandemic?
Monica Aksamit: Training during the pandemic has been pretty brutal. Initially, the mental health aspect was a huge battle. It was extremely difficult to go from training 6 days a week, 2x a day, to doing practically nothing. We also had some family health issues which were an additional layer to things.
We also have had many Covid scares in my fencing facility which have meant a lot of quarantines and PCR tests. It has been very stressful to say the least. Olympic year is always a lot of stress and adding the pandemic on top of that, well… like I said, it’s been brutal.
Sam: We will be cheering for you during the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, in the meantime where can people follow your journey?
Monica Aksamit: People can find me on Instagram and TikTok by searching my first and last name, monicaaksamit or listen to my podcast, On the Fence with Monica Aksamit on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Google Podcasts.
Disclaimer: All Photos Provided Courtesy & Authorized by Monica Aksamit. Potential minor edits for transcript's length, flow, grammatical/formatting.
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