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Greek Pride, Greek Guide to Greatness

Dear Readers:

It's been quite a journey for Alameda, CA, native Alexi Pappas, who co-wrote / directed / produced a semi-autobiographical film in which she stars as a middle-distance runner chasing her Olympic dream.

The real life track star graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth College before running off to compete in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, OR. She then joined the Ducks as a University of Oregon fifth-year student, helping lead the team to two NCAA championships in 2012 and 2013 as noted on her gotracktownusa.com blog.

Equipped with dual citizenship, in May she officially earned her place on Greece's Olympic team, an accomplishment she knew would make her yiayia proud. She has been featured in the New York Times, Runners World, and Women's Running where's she's also a contributing writer.

"I’ve been chasing my Olympic dream, mentally and physically, since childhood," she recently published  in Women's Running. "Every race I challenged a boy to on the playground became a layer of brick building me to what I’ve become—every race I won made me hungry and every race I lost made me try harder. With my film, every new draft of the script made me want to see it come to life even more." For the rest of Alexi's inspiring story, please turn to page 4.

Co-producers, the National Hellenic Society and National Geographic Television have announced its exciting online digital series: The Greek Guide to Greatness, 10 vignettes of ancient themes presented within the context of today's world. In addition to its online availability in August, the Greek Guide in a CD format will also accompany curriculum and lesson plans for high school history classes nationwide. Please see page 6 for the complete story.

 

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

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THIS MONTH’S FEATURE STORY

Alexi Pappas makes her family proud by making Greek team for Rio

By Michelle R. Martinelli, USA TODAY Sports

Before Alexi Pappas earned her spot on Greece’s Olympic team, before she bolted past the Olympic standard by nearly 30 seconds at the Payton Jordan Invitational on May 1 — Greek Orthodox Easter — she thought of her yiayia.

Pappas knew representing her elderly grandmother’s native country at the Olympics would lift her spirits, and she would do anything to make her proud. So in just her third 10,000-meter race on the track, she shattered the Greek national record — finishing in 31 minutes 46.85 seconds — and will be the first woman to compete for Greece in the event at the Olympics. She said she broke the Greek record by about 35 seconds.

But none of it would be possible without her yiayia, Mary Pappas, whose emigration from Rhodes, Greece opened the door to the 26-year-old professional distance runner’s dual citizenship and trip to Rio this summer.

“To talk to my yiayia about it afterward was the most incredible thing because it means a lot to me, but it also means a lot to my relationship with her,” said Pappas, who trains with the Oregon Track Club Elite in Eugene. “I haven’t seen her this energetic in a long time. She is ecstatic.”

After her mother passed away when she was 4, her yiayia became a key maternal figure in her life. Although she grew up in Alameda, Calif., while her grandmother lived in Atlanta, she said they reunited for Christmases and summers throughout her childhood and now utilize Skype to stay connected.                 Read current issue online for full article

Frosene Phillips

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