The Summer Olympics are finally here! And while the whole world watched Team USA file into London’s Olympic Stadium in their Ralph Lauren blazers, we couldn’t help wonder just how many of them were acquainted with taking the subway in their sweats to practice in New York.
It turns out, there are a dozen-plus New Yorkers who’ve hopped the pond and are hoping to come back with a Gold. We’re here to help you suss them out.
Here’s a heads up on the New York natives who’ve been completing for Team USA in London—or are slated to. Meet our 14 local athletes…and cheer them on via Twitter. —Jenna Holt
Even though she’ll be a blur running past the stands, you can recognize Montano by the trademark flower in her hair. She wears one in every race to show off her femininity and free-spirited nature.
Foot problems took Montano out of the running in 2008, but she’s come back strong and now holds three U.S. Indoor National titles and a bronze medal in World indoors.
When she’s not flying by, you can find her on the stage performing. Montano was a theater major in college.
What/when to watch: August 8-11, Women’s Track & Field 800 meter race.
Cheer her on via Twitter: @Alysia800
2. Amanda Clark
Amanda’s been sailing since age 5 when she joined the Shelter Island Yacht Club. But there were some choppy waters back in 2011 when she had to replace her longtime sailing partner, Sarah Chin, just three months before the first Olympic trials. Thanks to a bit of luck and a lot of talent, she and new partner Sarah Lihan won a tiebreaker to make the Olympic team.
When she’s not on deck, you can find her training with Navy SEALs. No, we’re not kidding.
What/when to watch: Team Go Sail is competing in the Women’s 470 on August 3–10
Cheer them on via Twitter: @TeamGOSAIL
3. Lia Neal
At age 17, Lia Neal became the second African American female swimmer to ever make the Olympic team. (She’s actually half Chinese, as well, and speaks fluent Cantonese and Mandarin.) Neal trains at New York’s Asphalt Green, the city’s only Olympic-size pool, and credits her adoring parents with much of her success.
When she’s not in the water, you can find her completing her senior year of high school at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Manhattan. Or listening to music with her dad, Rome Neal, a popular performing artist.
What: 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay on Saturday, July 28. The team scored a Bronze!
Congratulate her on Twitter: @LiaNeal
In 2008, Evelyn Stevens traded in her Wall Street career and the rat race for a different kind of race: cycling. Deemed “genetically gifted” for the sport, within a year of the switch the 29-year-old was competing in Switzerland for the World Championships and making a name for herself.
Until last year you could spot her zooming through Central Park, but now she resides in Boulder, Colorado with her family.
What: Women’s Road Race on July 29: She placed 24th. August 1: Women’s Individual Time Trial.
Congratulate her on Twitter: @evelyn_stevens
5. John Orozco
All eyes are on World Champion, 19-year-old John Orozco as “the best hope for an Olympic Gold” in Men’s Gymnastics in London.
Orozco landed his first medal at age 9, and held the spotlight when he handed the bronze over to another competitor who was in tears over his loss.
Orozco continues to wow the world (and woo the media) with his kindness, his passion, and his personal story of perseverance.
He grew up in a poor community in the South Bronx and commuted 30 miles every day to train in Chappaqua, NY, and came back after a torn Achilles. Quick trivia question: His story was the inspiration behind which band’s music video?
When he’s not on the pommel horse or high bar, you can find him surrounded by his supportive siblings and parents.
What/when to watch: Men’s Gymnastics trials begin July 28. Orozco will perform in five of the six U.S. Men’s Gymnastic team competitions.
Cheer him on on Twitter! @JohnW_Orozco
6. Cullen Jones
At age 7, Cullen Jones almost drowned at a water park in Pennsylvania. Fast forward to today, and you’ll find Cullen has practically developed fins. He’s back to the Olympics for his second go-around with one gold medal from Beijing’s 4×100 freestyle relay under his belt.
When he’s not breathing through gills, you can find him: Working as the national spokesman for water safety initiative Make A Splash.
What/when to watch: 50-meter free, 100-meter free, 400-meter free relay, July 28–August 3
Find him on Twitter @Cullen_Jones
7. Maria Michta
Originally Nesconset, NY; now Manhattan
Anyone who’s ever power walked to make it to a meeting on time knows there’s more to it than meets the eye. Maria Michta made her career out of the competitive (albeit obscure) Race Walk, even missing her own college commencement in 2008 to attend the World Cup.
But the three-time USA Outdoor 20 km Race Walk Champion faced unexpected challenges less than a week before leaving for London, when her car was burnt to a crisp in a lightning strike. Not to fear, for as Michta says, “Lost two cars but was able to save our American flag!”
When she’s not race-walking, you can find her with her nose pressed to a book at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where she’s a Ph.D candidate.
What/when to watch: Women’s 20 km Race Walk on August 11
Keep up to date on Twitter: @MariaMichta
A native of Staten Island, then Brooklyn, then Far Rockaway, and finally back to Staten Island, Browne received his training as champion boxer from a former corrections officer.
He qualified for the Olympics after besting Felix Valera in Rio de Janeiro and earning a gold medal at the American Qualifying Event.
He’s a product of the Atlas Cops ‘n Kids Boxing Club and is known for creating his own words, like “spizazz,” a noun that describes “having swagger, being a professional, and being an entertainer.”
Out of the ring, he enjoys: visiting the faculty who helped him raise money to compete and inspiring the students of PS 57
What/When to watch: Men’s Light Heavyweight boxing, Monday, July 30–Aug 12
Follow every spar and hook on Twitter: @Marcus_Browne
While the 6’4″ former UConn center is now the center of attention in the basketball world, she started out wanting to be a “standout athlete” in golf. Thankfully she put the putter down for basketball and hasn’t looked back. In 2010 she was WNBA Rookie of the Year, and in 2011 almost beat the record for most minutes played in WNBA franchise history.
When she’s not dunking and dribbling, you can find her: training, training, and training some more!
What/when to watch: Women’s basketball, July 28–August 11
Cheer on Charles and the team on Twitter: @TinaCharles31
10. Sue Bird
Another former UConn player, Sue Bird is a point guard pro. She showed some serious promise in 1998 when she lead her Queens high school team to an undefeated season, and this is her third Olympics.
She’s become one of just two women to win multiple Olympic, WNBA, and NCAA titles.
Off the court, she enjoys: working with cancer research and awareness charities.
What/when to watch: Women’s basketball, July 28-August 11
11. Nicole Ross
This Manhattan native found her passion for fencing after coveting the parries and coupes in the movie, Princess Bride. She proceeded to surround herself with Olympians at the NY Fencer’s Club and personally trained with 2008’s Olympic silver-medal team. She recovered swiftly from traumatic muscle breakdown in 2011 and continued on to World with the highest scores of her entire career.
She trades her saber in for: a stuffed animal monkey named Pippo, her good luck charm during competitions.
What/when to watch: Women’s Fencing Team and Individual Foil on July 28, Aug. 2
12. Nzingha Prescod
Prescod is ranked #2 in U.S. women’s foil. The Columbia University student grew up in a Caribbean neighborhood of Brooklyn taking swimming, ballet, gymnastics, and karate lessons. But she narrowed it down to fencing by age 10 and will make her Olympic debut after winning gold at 2011’s Junior World Championships.
Off the mat, Prescod’s workout of choice is: Pilates
What/when to watch: Women’s Fencing Team and Individual Foil on July 28, Aug. 2
Check her out on Twitter: @ZingZang14
13. Kara Goucher
If it weren’t for her grandfather signing her up for a race at age six, Kara Goucher may have stuck to American Girl dolls and Beach Boys karaoke. This girly-girl turned Running Man still holds the fastest time ever for an American in the New York City Marathon (2008).
Even giving birth in 2010 didn’t slow her stride, recovering in time to run her personal best in the 2011 Boston Marathon.
She enjoys kicking up the competition by training with friend and fellow marathoner, Shalane Flanagan.
To kick back, Goucher trades in her running shoes for: Wading boots and a fishing pole.
What/when to watch: Women’s marathon, Sunday, August 5
Get the latest updates via Twitter: @KaraGoucher
14. Abby Wambach
In addition to sporting the red, white, and blue, Abby Wambach is already sporting a shiner from Saturday’s match against Colombia. She may have been sucker-punched, but that didn’t stop the women’s soccer team from winning 3-0.
As the youngest of seven kids, Abby is used to being a team player. Ranked fourth in All-Time leading scorers for women’s soccer, she hopes to accomplish what a broken leg stopped her from in 2008: a team gold medal.
Off the field, Abby loves: peaceful mornings with her newspaper and coffee at her side.
And we salute her for: kicking off the skinny headband trend that we saw everywhere.
What/when to watch: Women’s soccer finals USA vs. North Korea on July 31
Follow the team on Twitter: @AbbyWambach
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