Hopkinton Massage Therapist Headed to the 2012 London Olympics
Earlier this week Anna Gammal left for her second trip to the world’s games to work as one of 800 Massage Therapists.
Raise your hand if you’ve been to the Olympics; great. Keep it up if you were at the Olympics in Athens; probably less of you. Now, keep your hand up if you’re making your second trip to the Olympics this year to work as a part of the medical team in London; no one? Well that’s exactly what Anna Gammal is doing this summer
Gammal grew up in Greece but moved to Hopkinton when she got married, after that she started Body N Beyond Massage Therapy in town. When she found out the Olympics were going to be in her home country she made sure she was there for them.
“The Olympics are the biggest party and the biggest event in all of sports,” Gammal said. “They stop wars for the Olympic games.”
Gammal has more at stake then just visiting the games, she is one of the 800 massage therapists and 3,000 people on the medical team that will be working to keep athletes in top shape and prevent injuries.
“The athletes dedicate their lives to this, it can be over in 10 seconds like the 100 meter dash, or it can last several hours like the marathon; but for the athletes this is the peak of their life. It’s all about dedication for the athletes and for me it’s about being dedicated to helping them,” she said.
Massage therapy was first a part of the Olympics in the 2004 Olympics at Athens. At the time it fell under the recreation umbrella, sharing a building with social lounges and computer labs. This year is different though, for the first time in the history of the Olympics massage therapy is under the medical umbrella and is being viewed is crucial to the well-being of the athletes.
“Medicine and alternative medicine are starting to come together, we’re starting to bridge the gap and look at the body as more than one dimensional,” she said.
Gammal said she had many amazing experiences there that she will remember for the rest of her life.
“In Athens there was a man from Nicaragua that I remember vividly,” she said. “It was his first time ever getting a massage. He told me his story, his dedication, his training and his fundraising, the story he told me was very touching. It’s hard to believe that in the 21st century people don’t have everything everywhere,” Gammal recalled.
Another memory that really stuck with Gammal was when she get to go on to the track that she fantasized about running on someday when she used to race competitively.
“I was on the track when a woman from Greece won the 400 meter hurdles, the whole stadium erupted, the energy level was amazing.”
The Olympics aren’t the only time Gammal works with elite athletes though. For the past couple years Gammal has worked with the elite athletes preparing for the Boston Marathon, but the level of importance just doesn’t compare.
“The Olympics aren’t just about one country, or one sport,” she said. “It’s about all cultures, languages and people coming together to celebrate and appreciate.”