NJ Athletes Get Ready for Olympics in Rio

By Michael Hill

In Times Square, First Lady Michelle Obama surprised the Olympic athletes and encouraged them to bring home the gold.

“The Olympics are also about inspiring young people here at home, truly to get them active and to live up to the example that our Olympic and Paralympic athletes have always set with their dedication, their determination, their unyielding dedication to excellence,” she said.

The U.S. Olympic Committee held this 100 day countdown to the start of the summer games to thank the team behind the team as Sicklerville native and champion wrestler Jordan Burroughs told the mid-town crowd what it means.

“the support that you guys give us on a daily basis increases my level of activity in the wrestling room and it decreases the amount of stress that I have to have outside of it,” Burroughs said.

Team USA has several New Jerseyans who’ve made the Olympic team or are still competing for it in several sports.

Fencing champion Ibtihaj Muhammad of Maplewood gave the First Lady some tips on the sport.

“I’m hoping that they incorporate fencing into the Lets Move campaign,” Muhammad said.

Muhammad is the first Muslim-American on the women’s Olympic fencing team and will be the first American athlete to compete in the summer games wearing hijab.

“I feel that it’s a moment of pride and a step in the right direction for us. I’d love to see Team USA be as diverse as possible,” she said.

Emily Wold of Freehold and Michelle Vittese of Cherry Hill hope to make the field hockey team.

“I am hoping. I am controlling everything that I can possibly control. I’m doing what I have to do and the team will be named and hopefully I’m on it,” Vittese said.

“From here on out just keep working hard each day and remembering my goal in the back,” Wold said.

Boxing analysts consider Newark native Shakur Stevenson — inspired, trained and coached by his boxing hall of fame grandfather — as one of Team USA’s best chances to bring home some gold.

“I feel like boxing is a sport where I don’t got to be the fastest, I don’t got to be the strongest. As long as I’m smart, as long as I know how to hit and not be hit, I’m straight,” Stevenson said.

Day one of a hundred on the Road to Rio where dreams can turn to gold, silver and bronze.