Kellen Stepler | Staff Writer
Getting into graduate school is a great accomplishment. However, so is being an Olympic athlete.
Meet Pavlos Kontides, 28, a graduate student at Duquesne University and the 2018 Rolex Sailor of the Year.
The Rolex award, considered to be one of the highest a sailor can receive in recognition of their accomplishments in sailing, is awarded to just one female and one male each year. Along with that, Kontides was also a silver medalist in the 2012 London Summer Olympics and is currently pursuing his Masters of Science in sports business online at the Palumbo-Donahue School of Business.
Hailing from Cyprus, Kontides became the first Cypriot athlete ever to win an Olympic medal for his country. His first Olympic games was in 2008, when he was just 18 years old. During the 2016 Olympic games in Rio, Kontides represented his country as Cyprus’s flag bearer during the opening ceremony, which was a “huge honor,” according to Kontides.
Being recognized as the Rolex Sailor of the Year is an honor that Kontides has been dreaming of for more than 14 years.
“To achieve it really means a lot for me, and all the people supporting me,” Kontides said. “It has been a long journey and I feel really proud and blessed to have my name on that trophy with all the sailing legends I grew up admiring.”
As of 2017, the population of Cyprus is only 1.18 million. Kontides shared his pride in representing and earning the accomplishment, being from such a small country.
“It is also important to show to youngsters that even being from a small nation, by believing in yourself and working hard, you can achieve amazing results,” Kontides said.
Kontides began sailing in 1999 at Limassol Nautical Class, and has never looked back.
“I really love sailing because it is very challenging and unique,” Kontides said. “Every day is different as you depend on the conditions, and of course whenever you are out there sailing you feel freedom; you are just switched off from what’s happening on the shore and you live in a different world.”
Even with such a busy life, Kontides is able to manage both his schoolwork and sailing.
“I love business, and the combination of sport and business was exactly what I wanted,” Kontides says.
The university’s online courses allow Kontides to continue with his busy lifestyle, and he notes that Duquesne was the only school to offer the course he was looking for and was able to meet all his requirements.
Despite receiving this high honor, Kontides still has big goals for himself — one being the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“We have two years until Tokyo Olympic games, and I would give it everything I have to prepare and be ready as much as my body and mind can take,” Kontides said. “Doing that will give me a good chance to be on the podium, which I am dreaming of.”