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Central Mass. Massage Therapist Part of Olympic Medical Team

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

 

Local massage therapist Anna Gammal will be making her second trip to the Olympic Summer Games as a member of the Medical Team for Sports Massage.

“Every day I get more and more excited,” Gammal said.

Gammal, who was the Co-Director of the Sports Massage team for the 2004 Athens Olympics, is an athlete herself, and understands the benefits of massage therapy for athletes. Gammal finished third in 10,000 meter national championship in 1989 in her native Greece, and has operated her Hopkinton massage therapy business for 13 years.

“For the first time in Olympic history, the massage therapy team will be working hand in hand with the medical team,” Gammal said. “It is such an honor for our profession.”

Eight years ago in Athens, Gammal said the massage therapists were stationed in the recreational area for the athletes, rather than the medical team. Gammal also applied to work at the Beijing Olympic Games, but said that only Chinese were accepted.

While in London, Gammal will be working with athletes from all over the world, and not just Team USA.

“I was hired by the London IOC,” Gammal said. “I am responsible to work with any athlete who needs our services from Nicaragua to China to the US.”

Gammal said that massage is vital to helping athletes feel and perform better.  

“Massage is no longer a luxury,” she said. “It has to be a part of our lives. Massage helps you prolong fitness and feel better."

Gammal with marathoner Ryan Hall, who will be competing in the London Games

Gammal, who is owner of Body n' Beyond in Hopkinton, has also worked extensively with marathon runners to assist them in their training and recovery.  

Had to Qualify

Like the athletes themselves, Gammal had to earn her spot on the Medical Massage Team.

“I applied two years ago,” Gammal said. “I had a phone interview in October, and I waited and waited, and then in January, I was told I was in.”

20,000 people applied to be a part of the medical staff; 3000 were accepted. 800 of those are massage therapists. “I’m one of the 800,” Gammal said.

Gammal said that it was her experience, education and credentials that landed her the position.

After being accepted, Gammal spent three days in London training and preparing for the Olympics.

Gammal is headed to her native Greece before starting work in the Olympic Village on July 23. “The Olympic Village opens a month before the Olympics start, so that athletes can train on site.

“I will be working July 23 until August 6, from 6:30 in the morning until 3:30 in the afternoon most days. “I have one day off,” she said.

When she is not working, Gammal said that she hopes to be able to see some of the aquatics and track and field events.

“The track and field events are very close to where I am working,” she said. “That is my passion, so I hope to see some events.”
 

 

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