3rd Generation Greek American Running for Greece in Rio— All for Her Grandmother


All she could think of when she shattered record after record in recent races was— her yiayia. Her Greek immigrant grandmother who played such a significant role in her upbringing after losing her mother when she was only four years old.

Alexi Pappas will be representing her yiayia’s birth country at the Rio Olympics this summer, invited to join the team by Greek athletic officials after she broke the Greek record in the 10,000-meter race in May.

Mary Pappas, Alexi’s grandmother emigrated to the United States from Rhodes. She was the first person Alexi called when she received the invitation to race for Greece.

“To talk to my yiayia about it afterward was the most incredible thing because it means a lot to me, but it also means a lot to my relationship with her,” Pappas said in a USA Today interview, adding that “I haven’t seen her this energetic in a long time. She is ecstatic.”

Currently, she trains with the Oregon Track Club Elite in Eugene and is one of the top ten runners in the United States. But running doesn’t define who this 26-year-old world-class runner is.

On racing for Greece, Pappas said it was “a gift to be racing for the country where the sport was born and to enter the Olympic stadium first and to be a role model to a whole new group of young athletes in Greece.”

Pappas writes essays and poetry, she acts and makes films— and even does stand up comedy.

Tracktown, her latest film project is a feature film she co-wrote, co-directed and stars in premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival last weekend.

The film follows a young runner named Plumb Marigold as she chases her dream of qualifying for the Olympics.


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  1. I am tired of southern Europeans like Greeks, Italians etc in countries like America or Australia who refuse to embrace their country of birth. I hate what the Turks have done to them in the past and are currently doing is awful, but the Russians have had an awful history with the Red Holocaust. They aren’t the only ones who have suffered, otherwise this attitude could cause all kinds of problems for Europeans generally. 3rd generation for crying out loud! When will she be American? 10th generation in line! We need unity and loyalty and integration. White people need uniting! We are dying out! If they won’t accept being American or Australian and join up with fellow Whites, then they should be kicked out. Just because Greeks are White, doesn’t mean we should automatically accept these people.

    White nationalist sites might ignore these kind of issues but I never will! I will die believing what I do that unity is important!

    If this woman feels so strongly about Greece, she should move there! Greece needs her help!

    • 10th Generation Greek on

      What are you talking about love……has it ever crossed your mind that she may not have been good enough to represent the US…more than good enough to represent Greece……..leave her alone let the girl chase her dream. I’m proud that the diaspora is represented in the Greek national teams. Does not make her any less American or any less Greek…..no inferiority complex here thanks…

      • I don’t hear people say they are English or Irish when they walk about. I do feel you are trying to rub it in by saying you are 10th generation Greek. What country do you live in? Which country fed and clothed you? Which country fed and clothed Alexi?

        If her heart was in America she would be good enough because she would have the American spirit.

        When Whites say these things about being “Greek” whether it’s 3rd or 10th generation it does hurt me. Because they are White and there is no unity. If it’s Chinese or Jew I don’t care because they aren’t White.

        I think if I was a dictator, I would give “Greeks” an ultimatum. I would say either say you are American or the should be told to leave the country. It’s not something I would want to do. But I don’t believe in a “holy” or “special” people. If you live in America or any Western country you take on that country’s identity. You become the fabric of the nation.

        Please be proud of your heritage but don’t rub it in to us non Greek American.

        Before I’d kick you people out (not all) I would hand out patriotic pamphlets in the letterbox and send you to patriotic facilities and how we can hurt people by going on about being ethnic but there needs to be a balance first. I’d rather do that kick “Greeks” out.

        I have strong opinions but I’ve heard about divisive things like this all my life so I am not going to change.

        • Maybe it would be a bad policy to kick “Greeks” out because White people are dying out too much. It seems to me no matter what you say to Whites, White people will never get it whether you are cruel to them or not. But I feel hurt that they’d rather “run for Greece” rather than America or whatever country that took them in that fed, clothed and sheltered them. I mean where does it stop? If someone of Greek heritage became a billionaire… would they still say they are Greek? Great thanks to America who made that person wealthy! “I’ll just take all the money and say I am Greek! THANK YOU THANK YOU! HA HA HA” That’s how it feels like to me.

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