Sam Hazewinkel, a medal contender in freestyle wrestling, remembers putting on his dad’s Olympic ring and jacket as a child.
Two-time defending gold medalist fencer Mariel Zagunis, two-time Olympic cyclist Taylor Phinney and equestrian Boyd Martin each have mothers and fathers who are Olympians.
And then, there is fencer Alex Massialas, who at 18 years old who will march into London’s Olympic Stadium Friday with his father, Greg, a three-time Olympian and now a coach with the U.S. Olympic Team.
“This is my dream,” Alex Massialas told TeamUSA.org. “Sometimes, as a little kid, hearing about the stories my dad would talk about when he was at the Olympic Games. It really inspired me to go for it and do my own thing and try and make the Olympic Team myself. …
“It really is going to be an extremely special thing walking into the Opening Ceremonies with him.”
For at least 11 U.S. Olympians, the London 2012 Olympic Games will represent a second generation of Olympic Games in their families. They range from Zagunis, the world’s top-ranked fencer in women’s sabre whose parents both rowed in the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games, to rower Gevvie Stone, whose mom rowed at the 1976 Games and whose dad was ready to compete at the Moscow 1980 Olympic Games except for a boycott, which included the United States.
When Hazewinkel walks into that Opening Ceremony, and later onto the wrestling mat to compete in freestyle wrestling, he’ll look up into the stands and see his father, David, looking on proudly.
“It’s something I’ve dreamed about for a long time,” said Sam Hazewinkel, who made the U.S. Olympic Team by winning the 55-kilogram men’s freestyle class in April in Iowa City, Iowa. “This was my third Olympic tryout. Each one, it gets a little more, like this might not happen. To get in and be able to have my parents there and my wife there, it’s incredible.”
Phinney, who placed seventh in individual pursuit at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, not only has parents who both won medals at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games, but his mother, Connie, competed as a speed skater at the Sapporo 1972 Olympic Games.
“My dad is amazing; my mom is amazing,” Phinney said. “They’re both there if I need them. … They know I’m doing what I love and that’s all that matters.”
Greg Massialas coaches his son in the Bay Area, and it was Greg who actually told Alex he had made the U.S. Olympic Team while they were sitting in a hotel lobby a few months ago in Spain.
“All of a sudden, he goes, ‘Congratulations, Alexander,’ ” Alex Massialas recalled. “ ‘You just made the Olympic team.’ ”
“Even when he first told me,” Alex said, “it just flew over my head.”
Here is a closer look at this year’s 11 U.S. second-generation Olympians and their parental links to Olympic Games:
Hometown: San Diego
Previous Olympic Games: Biehl and Stuart McNay placed 13th in the men’s 470 class at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Road to London: Biehl and McNay finished 25th at the 2011 Skandia Sail for Gold and 13th at the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championship, the two U.S. Olympic Trials events, earning the right to represent the U.S. at the 2012 Games.
Olympic connection: Graham’s uncle, Mark Reynolds, is a three-time Olympic medalist and four-time Olympian in sailing. He won gold in the mixed two-person keelboat at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games and Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
Sport: Shot put, track & field
Hometown: Ovilla, Texas
Previous Olympic Games: She placed 15th at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games with a throw of 17.74 meters (58 feet, 2 1/2 inches).
Road to London: Carter qualified for her second Olympic team by earning the silver medal in shot put at the U.S. Olympic Trials with a distance of 18.57 meters (60 feet, 11 1/4 inches).
Olympic connection: Her father, Michael Carter, is believed to be the only athlete to win an NFL Super Bowl championship and an Olympic medal in the same year. He earned a silver medal in the shot put at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games, then helped the San Francisco 49ers win a Super Bowl title as a nose tackle in his rookie year. Carter was a three-time All-Pro selection in the NFL.
Sport: Distance runner, track & field
Hometown: Arnold, Md.; resides in Eugene, Ore.
Road to London: Centrowitz qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games by finishing second in the 1,500-meter run at the U.S. Olympic Trials (3:35.84). He was the bronze medalist at the 2011 World Outdoor Championships.
Olympic connection: His father, Matthew, is a two-time Olympian. He competed in the men’s 1,500 in the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games and also qualified for the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team.
Sport: Freestyle wrestling
Hometown: Norman, Okla.
Road to London: Hazewinkel qualified by winning the 55-kilogram weight class at the U.S. Olympic Trials in April.
Olympic connection: His father, Dave, and uncle, James, are both Olympians. Dave Hazewinkel competed at the Mexico City 1968 Olympic Games and Munich 1972 Olympic Games in Greco-Roman wrestling. He did not medal at either Olympic Games, but won two matches and went through the fourth round of competition in Mexico City in the bantamweight class. Dave’s twin brother, James, also made the 1968 and 1972 Olympic teams, and also made it to the fourth round of competition in Mexico City before being eliminated in the featherweight class.
Sport: Eventing, equestrian
Hometown: Cochranville, Pa.
Road to London: Martin actually saved his horse, Neville Bardos, from a barn fire in May 2011. Since then, Neville was named the U.S. Equestrian Foundation’s 2011 International Horse of the Year and combined with Martin to gain a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.
Olympic connection: Boyd’s mother, Toy Dorgan, was a speed skater for the United States at the Grenoble 1968 Olympic Winter Games. There, she competed in the women’s 3,000-meter race and met Australian cross country Olympic skier Ross Martin, whom she later married. Toy will attend the Games in London. Ross Martin died shortly after a bicycle accident in Australia in 2011.
Hometown: San Francisco
Road to London: Massialas qualified in March through the cumulative points system used at international events. Among the high points were individual silver and team gold at the 2012 Pan American Championships and individual bronze in men’s foil at the Paris World Cup.
Olympic connection: Alex’s father and coach, Greg, is a three-time Olympian. A native of Greece, Greg Massialas competed for the United States at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games and Seoul 1988 Olympic Games in men’s foil. He did not medal, but the men’s foil team placed fifth in 1984. He would have competed at the Moscow 1980 Olympic Games, but those were boycotted by the United States.
Sport: Beach volleyball
Hometown: Costa Mesa, Calif.
Previous Olympic Games: May-Treanor is competing in her fourth Olympic Games and is a two-time defending gold medalist in women’s beach volleyball. With partner Kerri Walsh, May-Treanor won gold at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Road to London: Since reuniting with Walsh, who took 2010 off to give birth to her second child, the duo combined for three FIVB Grand Slam gold medals in 2011, a first-place finish in 2012 in Gstaad, Switzerland, and a fifth-place finish at the 2012 World Championships.
Olympic connection: Misty’s father, Robert “Butch” May, was a member of the U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team at the Mexico City 1968 Olympic Games. The team placed seventh. Additionally, Taylor Dent, a cousin of May-Treanor, played men’s singles tennis for the United States at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
Hometown: Duxbury, Mass.
Road to London: Was a crew member on the U.S. eight boat, which won the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta.
Olympic connection: Miller’s father, William, rowed in the men’s coxless four boat for the United States at the Munich 1972 Olympic Games.
Hometown: Boulder, Colo.
Previous Olympic Games: Phinney placed seventh in the individual pursuit at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, but that event is not a part of the cycling competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Road to London: Phinney’s road performances won over USA Cycling officials enough so that he was named to his second consecutive U.S. Olympic Team, this time in the time trial and road race. Helping his case was a first-place finish in the Stage One time trial at the Giro d’Italia this year.
Olympic connection: Both of Taylor’s parents are medal-winning Olympians. His mother, Connie Carpenter-Phinney, a 12-time national champion, won a gold medal in the road race at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games. She also competed as an Olympic speed skater at the Sapporo 1972 Olympic Games. His father, Davis Phinney, a two-time stage winner at the Tour de France, earned a bronze medal in the team time trial in 1984 and also placed fifth in the men’s road race.
Hometown: Newton, Mass.
Road to London: Stone, winner in both the U.S. Olympic Trials and 2011 U.S. World Championship Trials, punched her ticket to London by placing third in women’s single sculls in the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in May in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Olympic connection: Gevvie’s mother, Lisa Hansen (Stone), was a member of the U.S. women’s coxed quadruple sculls at the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games. The boat finished seventh. Her father, Gregg, would have qualified for the Moscow 1980 Olympic Games as the nation’s top men’s singles sculler, but did not compete because of the Olympic boycott.
Hometown: Beaverton, Ore.
Previous Olympic Games: Zagunis is a three-time medalist in women’s sabre. She won individual gold at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, and individual gold and team bronze at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Road to London: Zagunis qualified through the cumulative points system used at international events. She is ranked No. 1 in the world.
Olympic connection: Mariel’s parents, Cathy and Robert Zagunis, both rowed for the United States at the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games. Robert was a crew member on the men’s fours and Catherine Mengis (later married to Robert) was a crew member of the women’s fours boat, which placed sixth.
Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc. Doug Williams is a freelance contributor for TeamUSA.org. This story was not subject to the approval of any National Governing Bodies.