The 2008 Summer Olympics officially opened today (or tonight as NBC would like you to believe) and the New York area is well represented. Not only are more than 40 athletes from the tri-state area competing for the U.S., but there are also several residents of New York City are heading to Beijing with dreams of gold.
- 19 year-old Sadam Ali, who was born and raised in Canarsie, is the first Arab-American boxer to compete in the games. Ali, a two-time National Golden Glove Championship winner competes in the lightweight division and hopes to be the first NYC boxer to bring home gold since 1984.
- The fencing team is full of New Yorkers. Emily Cross, who hails from the Upper East Side, in contention for a medal in the individual foil competition (she's the top-ranked U.S. female) and part of the women’s team that could medal overall. She previously won two consecutive Junior World Championships in 2005 and 2006.
- Timothy Morehouse from The Bronx, started fencing at Riverdale to get out of gym class and is now the 16th ranked saber fencer in the world.
- Brooklyn native Keeth Smart, formerly the #1 ranked saber fencer in the world overcame a lot just to get to Beijing. Just four months ago, Smart was diagnosed with a rare blood disease that required an intensive course of steroids for treatment. It will be Smart’s last Olympics as he is headed to Columbia for his MBA in the fall.
- Erinn Smart, sister of Keeth and Barnard alumna, will compete with the foil. Smart was an All-American and All-Ivy League fencer with Columbia.
- Taraje Williams-Murray from the South Bronx competes in the 60kg (132lbs) division of the judo competition. Williams-Murray, who found out late last year that he was anemic, hopes to become the first American ever to win a gold medal in judo.
- Sandra Fong will compete in the 3-position rifle event, even though at 18 she is too young to own a gun in New York City. The Hunter grad (she's going to Princeton when she gets back from Beijing), trains and stores her rifles outside of the city. Fong's sister Danielle is also going to Beijing - in September as part of the 2008 Paralympic team.
- Chen Wang, will be returning to the city she was born in to compete in table tennis. She placed fifth in women's singles at the 2007 World Championships.