Greenfield wrestler hopes to bring family to Olympics
GREENFIELD, Mass. (WHDH) -- It's been a long journey for Elena Pirozhkova.
"We were born in Ntzget, Russia. It’s in Siberia above Mongolia."
The journey started when she was 3. Her father moved the family from Russia, all the way to Greenfield, Massachusetts.
"He thought about it and said well if we don't take the chance now we may not get the opportunity and anything is better than how we are living now. So let’s go to the land of opportunity,” said Pirozhkova.
Opportunity knocked softly at Elena’s door with an open spot on the boy's middle school wrestling team.
She was hesitant, but she tried out, she made the team, and now, 13 years later, she's headed to her first Olympics.
"I can actually visualize myself winning; I can actually visualize myself standing there,” said Pirozhkova.
But Pirozhkova is worried that she'll be standing there without her family.
Elena Pirozhkova is one of 9 children and she wants all of them cheering her on in London - but the family can't afford it. Pirozhkova has to raise all the money on her own.
"We’ve never had like a family vacation, my mom’s never been on vacation, I mean she has 9 kids and has worked her whole life,” said Pirozhkova.
“Time where we can bond and just spend time together because we've never really had that before.”
And on top of it all, Pirozhkova's mother has never seen her wrestle in person before. Elena trains in Colorado and competes internationally; her mother can't afford those trips either.
"Everybody always has their families going and I’m the one who never has anybody there,” said Pirozhkova, laughing, “which is okay."
But this is no average competition- this is Team U.S.A. on the world’s largest stage.
Pirozhkova lost her father last summer. He never saw his daughter become an Olympian, but Pirozhkova’s journey continues, hopefully with her mother and 8 siblings by her side.
"It’s not just a lifetime opportunity for me, it's a lifetime opportunity for the rest of my family."
Pirozhkova said that tickets for her family to come to London would likely cost between $15,000 and $20,000.