My Olympic Story: Margarita Tschomakova

Ohio State's 2012 Olympians have plenty of family ties. Not only is the brother/sister duo of Zain and Mona Shaito competing, OSU has a second-generation Olympian competing in Margarita Tschomakova. The Bulgarian fencer is following in the footsteps of her father, Georgi, and is profiled in today's Olympic Story.

Previous editions:
Katie Bell (USA, diving)
Samantha Cheverton (Canada, swimming)
Roger Espinoza (Honduras, soccer)
Amanda Furrer (USA, rifle)
George Markovic (Serbia, swimming)
Mona Shaito (Lebanon, fencing)
Zain Shaito (Lebanon, fencing)
Margot Shumway (USA, rowing)

Margarita Tschomakova will not be the first Tschomakova to represent Bulgaria at the Olympic Games. Her father, Georgi competed in three Summer Games for his country, finishing his career at the 1988 Games in Seoul, South Korea. Margarita, a standout fencer for Ohio State for four seasons, was a Big Ten Medal of Honor finalist in 2012 while helping the Buckeyes to the NCAA championship in Columbus.

Hometown: Bonn, Germany
Event: women's sabre, Aug. 1
How Qualified: Tschomakova secured one of four spots available in women's sabre at the European qualifier in Bratislava, Slovakia, in April. She outlasted Great Britain's Joanna Hutchison in the round of eight to qualify.
Medal Chances: She has picked up a tough draw and will be going up against stars like the United States' Mariel Zagunis, who has won gold in the last two Olympics. Sofya Velikaya (Russia) and the Olga Kharlan (Ukraine) are also top fencers Tschomakova will have to get past.
Ohio State Career: Tschomakova had a decorated Ohio State career from 2009-12, finishing in the top 10 in the NCAA each of her four seasons. She had 35 wins to lead the women's sabre group as a freshman and took ninth at the national meet that year. In 2010, Tschomakova was named a first-team All-American after taking third at the NCAA championships. She went on to finish fifth as a junior and seventh as a senior, winning the Midwest Fencing Conference title in 2011 and a Midwest regional qualifier in 2012.
In Her Own Words: "It is a great feeling to be following in my dad's footsteps. I have always wanted to be as successful as him and even be better. His last Olympics were in 1988, a couple of months before I was born, and he has still souvenirs and great stories to share. As my coach, he can give me great advice on how to prepare for the Olympics, and we will be sharing this moment together. I am very happy to see what joy I have brought to family and friends by qualifying for the Olympics.

"This year has had had many emotional highlights for me so far. Not only did I qualify for the Olympics, but we also won NCAA championship and I graduated in June. My qualifiers were only three weeks after NCAAs, so I was still in good competition shape. Furthermore, during my time at OSU, the combination of training and studying has always worked great, and I was well prepared to compete. Having trained with Coach (Vladimir) Nazlymov and the strong team at Ohio State helped me to achieve my goal of qualifying.

"My time after qualifying was quite stressful and it took some time to sink in. Right after I won my bout I was called for a drug test, and after I was done with it we drove nine hours back from Bratislava to Germany. The next morning I had my flight back to the U.S., and since I had missed a week of school I had to take three exams right as I got back. So, I had to go straight back to studying and back to practice and didn't have much time to celebrate.

"The reaction of my friends and family was overwhelming. They have always supported me and I received many, many congratulations. It has always been my goal to qualify for the Olympics, and I am very happy that I have reached this goal. I cannot say that it has been life-changing, I am just very excited and thankful to be part of this event. It's something every athlete dreams of.

"I am the first fencer from Bulgaria to have qualified for the Olympics after the games in Atlanta 1996, so it is a big deal in Bulgaria. I went back there for a couple of days to give a press conference and interviews and was happy to see how much interest there was in my sport. Also, my story and background is very interesting. My dad was part of the golden era of fencing in Bulgaria and a great athlete, and now I am following in his footsteps. Furthermore, I grew up in Germany and then went to the U.S., but am still competing for my native country.

"As far as training goes, I am practicing at my home gym in Bonn. We were planning on travelling somewhere for a training camp. However, right after I graduated I went to Italy for the European Championships and after a week back to Columbus. Then I had to fly to Chicago for the last World Cup of the season and then I went back to Columbus, packed all my stuff and moved back to Germany. A couple days there and I had to travel again to go to Bulgaria. After all this traveling and stress we decided to not go anywhere and just train at home.

"As far as my expectations for the Olympics go I must say that qualifying was my biggest goal. My first bout will be against the No. 1- or No. 2-ranked girl, which will be very hard. However, nothing is impossible and my dream is to win a medal. I have the advantage that no one expects much from me, and I can compete relaxed. Coach Nazlymov has been telling me I am ready to win a medal and to surprise the world, and this is what I'll try to do. I will give my best and what will happen will happen."

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