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PR- 349-08
September 8, 2008


Mayor Presents Athletes with Crystal Apples

Ceremony Brings Members of the Stuyvesant High School Fencing Program to City Hall Park for Exhibition by Three of the Six Silver Medalists from the Olympic Fencing Team

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and New York City Sports Commissioner Kenneth J. Podziba today welcomed home New York City's returning Olympians and presented each of them with a crystal apple at a ceremony in City Hall Park. The U.S. Olympic team included ten athletes from New York City, nine of whom attended today's ceremony, including silver medal-winning fencers Erinn Smart (women's foil team), Emily Cross (women's foil team), Keeth Smart (men's saber team), Timothy Morehouse (men's saber team), Jason Rogers (men's saber team), James Williams (men's saber team), Sadam Ali (boxing), Taraje Williams-Murray (judo) and Wang Chen (table tennis). Sandra Fong (shooting) was the other New York City delegate who participated in the 2008 Beijing Games. The Mayor also presented crystal apples to fencing team captain Jeff Bukantz, fencing coaches Yury Gelman, Buckie Leach, and Mikhail Petin, and boxing coaches Victor Roundtree and Andre Rozier. The ceremony, attended by members of the Stuyvesant High School fencing program, included a fencing exhibition by Erinn Smart, Timothy Morehouse and Jason Rogers.

"No city in the world epitomizes the spirit and diversity of the Olympic Games like New York does, and the athletes from the five boroughs who competed in Beijing are consummate New Yorkers," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Congratulations to our six silver medal winners, to Brooklyn-based boxer Sadam Ali, the first Arab-American to make the U.S. Olympic team, and to the rest of the Olympians who call New York City home."

"The success of these athletes at the Beijing Olympics has brought great pride to New York City and we are glad to give them a hero's welcome upon their return," said Commissioner Podziba. "Fencers from the Big Apple had a particularly strong showing at this year's Games and it is my hope that we continue to foster more Olympic sports throughout the year, so that in four year's time we can honor even more amazing athletes from our own backyard."

The six medals won by the 2008 U.S. fencers is the most ever by a U.S. team at the Olympics. Neither the men's nor women's teams were expected to win medals at the Games, but both exceeded expectations, upsetting several traditionally stronger nations, by winning silver.

"While some of the members of our team are born-and-bred New Yorkers and some are more recent additions to the fold, I think we all owe this city a debt of gratitude for providing us with an incredible place to train and incredible people to interact with," said fencer Emily Cross. "So to Mayor Bloomberg, to our coaches, and most of all to New York - thank you."

"It's an honor to receive crystal apples from Mayor Bloomberg," said fencer Timothy Morehouse. "We're very proud to be New Yorkers and we hope all New Yorkers feel a sense of pride in our medals."

Members of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team from New York City:

  • Silver Medalist Emily Cross, a member of the women's fencing team, first competed in the sport at age 11. She is a graduate of Brearley High School in Manhattan and currently a student at Harvard University.

  • Silver Medalist Timothy Morehouse, 30, a member of the men's fencing team, hails from the Bronx. A graduate of Riverdale Country School, he has been a seventh grade teacher in Washington Heights and has worked for Teach For America for the past four years.

  • Silver Medalist Jason Rogers, 25, already an Olympic medal winner at the Summer Games in Athens in 2004, won again in Beijing. He recently moved to New York City from his hometown of Los Angeles to train with Yury Gelman - the coach of the past three U.S. Olympic teams.

  • Silver Medalist Erinn Smart began fencing a age 11. She graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School and later attended Barnard College.

  • Silver Medalist Keeth Smart, Erinn's brother, is the first American to be ranked number one in the world in men's saber fencing. He also graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School before attending St. John's University. After the Olympics, he announced his retirement from the sport so he could concentrate on getting his MBA from Columbia Business School.

  • Silver Medalist James Williams, 23, is a member of the men's fencing team. He grew up in California but moved to New York to attend Columbia, where he is now pursuing a Master degree in Slavic Culture.

  • Sadam Ali, 19, competed in the lightweight division in Boxing. Now in Brooklyn, Sadam's family came to New York from Yemen. He is a two-time New York City Golden Glove Champion and the first ever Arab-American to make the U.S. Olympic team.

  • Wang Chen, 34, returned to her native Beijing to compete in table tennis. She was a member of the Chinese team throughout the 1990s, but the 2008 Games marked the first time she competed in the Olympics.

  • Sandra Fong, 18, competed in the rifle three position in Beijing. She is now beginning college at Princeton University, where she plans to be pre-med while majoring in theater.

  • Taraje Williams-Murray, 23, is from the South Bronx. He took up judo at the age of eight. Last November, he developed a blood disorder that almost forced him to retire, but he persevered and achieved his dream in Beijing.


Stu Loeser / Andrew Brent   (212) 788-2958

Jeff Mohl   (NYC Sports Commission)
(212) 487-6627

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