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'Highest honor of my life:' Palm Beach County teacher to participate in Olympics

'The idea is to compete in life and participate and try your best every single day,' Antonis Loudaros says
Posted at 6:18 PM, Apr 11, 2024

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — A longtime, award-winning Palm Beach County teacher and chess coach is gearing up for his biggest honor yet.

Antonis Loudaros heads to Greece Friday to be a torchbearer for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, and part of the Olympic torch lighting ceremony in Ancient Olympia.

This isn't his first time being a part of the Games, which he said has a lot in common with the game of chess.

Loudaros has two passions in life. One of them is education. He spent years teaching and coaching chess in the Palm Beach County School District. Now, he coaches more than 50 students in chess at The Greene School in West Palm Beach.

The Greene School in West Palm Beach teacher Antonis Loudaros Olympic torches April 11 2024
Teacher Antonis Loudaros and students displaying his Olympic torches and medals from previous Olympic Games.

"Chess brings people together, cultures together, ages together," he said. "They are skills for life, you can use in everyday life, you can use in reading, you can use in math. You can win, you can draw or you can learn, there are no losers in chess."

The chess lessons go beyond the board to his other passion— the Olympic Games.

"I see parallels," Loudaros said. "Sportsmanship, to be patient, to be polite, participate. There cannot be only one winner. Everyone is a winner as long as they try."

 coaches more than 50 students in chess at The Greene School in West Palm Beach April 11 2024.png
Antonis Loudaros coaches more than 50 students in chess at The Greene School in West Palm Beach.

His commitment to the Olympics started back in 1996 when he said a friend gave Loudaros his spot to run with the Olympic torch. He's been volunteering at the games and participating in torch runs ever since. Loudaros has Olympic torches from five Games including Atlanta in 1996, Sydney in 2000, Athens in 2004, Beijing in 2008 and Sochi Winter Games in 2014.

The Hellenic Olympic Committee in Greece, where he was born and raised, has invited him for the torch lighting ceremony in Ancient Olympia on April 16, and to run with the Olympic torch on April 20. After this run through Greece, the torch will travel by boat to Marseille to continue its journey.

"It was an unexpected honor, the highest honor of my life," Loudaros said. "I would run with sandals, I would run in bare feet like the ancient runners, as long as I am able to touch with my feet, soul, heart, mind, the ground of my ancestors, the ground where the Olympic Games started."

Antonis Loudaros Olympic torch April 11 2024
Antonis Loudaros holding a torch from a previous Olympic Game.

He credits perseverance for his Olympic achievements, which is something he translates to his students through chess.

"The idea is to compete in life and participate and try your best every single day," he said. "Healthy mind, healthy body."

Loudaros will head to Paris this summer and will be volunteering at the Olympic Games, though he doesn't know what his responsibilities will be.