Abdel Salem

Abdel  Salem

Colorado Springs

Head Coach


Alma Mater:
University of Alexandria - 1980


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Head coach Abdel Salem has been at the helm of the U.S. Air Force Academy’s (USAFA) men and women’s fencing program since 1998. A former Olympian, he is also a 1980 graduate of the University of Alexandria, Egypt, and holds a doctorate in medicine.

After graduating from Alexandria and during his Olympic efforts, Salem was a practicing general physician in Egypt for four years. He was also a 10-year member of the Egyptian National Fencing team and competed in the 1984 Olympics. In 1996, Salem was named the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Fencing Coach of the Year. In 2016, Salem was again at the Olympics as a coach for Modern Pentathlon. He was also honored with an Award of Merit for Outstanding Achievement in the Coaching and Teaching of Fencing from the US Fencing Coaches Association.

Salem came to the Academy in 1998. Under Salem’s guidance, the Falcons won four consecutive Western Region Championship women’s titles from 2002-2005. The men’s teams were region champions in 2002 and 2003. In 2003, Elia Burrill was named NCAA Woman of the Year (Colorado) and was awarded an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. Eliza Enyart was the 2007-08 independent nominee for the NCAA’s 18th Annual Woman of the Year Award. Salem has coached 12 Air Force fencers to a total of 19 All-American titles. He also coached several fencers to the NCAA Championship Final Four, to include national champion, Seth Kelsey (2003). Coach Salem is a recipient of the NCAA Western Region Coach of the Year award.

In 2008, Peter French was honored as the Mountain West Conference Hal Rothman Sportsmanship Award and NCAA Sportsmanship Award honoree. In 2010, French earned All-American honors as the NCAA’s men’s epee runner-up, and Simone Barrette earned honors in women’s epee. For the 2010-11 academic year, senior Daniel Trapani was awarded the Mountain West Hal Rothman Sportsmanship Award. Both Trapani and freshman Daniel Cohen were 2011 All-Americans. The Falcons have appeared at the NCAA Championships each year Salem has been coaching at Air Force. Dalton Boatright was honored as the 2011-12 Mountain West Hal Rothman Sportsmanship Award winner. That year, Air Force sent three fencers to the NCAAs. Two fencers qualified in 2012-13.

With Salem, Air Force individuals have qualified for nationals 17 times.

“I feel lucky to live and work at the United States Air Force Academy in beautiful Colorado,” said Coach Salem. “Colorado Springs is a moderately-sized town in the shadow of Pikes Peak, the inspiration for America the Beautiful.”

Before coming to the Academy, Salem was the head coach at the Lone Star Fencing Center in Dallas, Texas. He founded the center in 1989 and developed fencers from the novice skill level to the advanced competitor, including United States National Team members. During his time at Lone Star, Salem was also the fencing coach for the St. Mark’s School in Dallas.
Salem taught fencing courses at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania from 1987-1989. His first head coaching position was at the Fairmont Park Fencing Center in Philadelphia. As head coach at the club from 1987-1989, Salem taught U.S. Olympic and World Team members. The club took the U.S. Foil Team Championship title. He was also assistant coach at the University of Pennsylvania from 1986-1988.

Salem has been a coach at five U.S. Olympic Sports Festivals and has been involved with many U.S. National Teams. Between 1993 and 2005, he was a staff member of the U.S. Fencing Coaches College. He has also served as coach for the World Military Games. Salem’s coaching career in the United States began in 1984 at the Westside Fencing Center in Los Angeles. In 1986, he moved on to the Salle Csiszar Fencing Center in Philadelphia, where he coached the winning U.S. Women’s Epee Championship team.

Salem has been a member of the U.S. Fencing Coaches Association’s (USFCA) Certification and Accreditation Board. He was the USFCA president from 2009-2015.

Salem and his wife, Kathy, have one son, Lt. James Salem (USAFA class of 2016).

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