STATE – Later today, the opening ceremonies will officially mark the beginning of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Nineteen athletes from New Jersey will be competing for the United States, including four from Middlesex County and one from Union County.
Heather O’Reilly, 27, is from East Brunswick and is making her third trip to the Olympics. She was part of the gold medal-winning U.S. women’s soccer teams in 2004 and 2008. Joining O’Reilly on this year’s team are Tobin Heath, 24, of Basking Ridge, Carli Lloyd, 30, of Delran, and team captain Christie Rampone, 37, of Point Pleasant. Rampone is one of 21 four-time Olympians in the U.S. contingent. The women’s soccer competition is already underway; the U.S. team beat France 4-2 in their first game on Wednesday and they’ll take on Colombia on Saturday, July 28.
Asjha Jones, 31, is a forward on the women’s basketball team. She holds the records for rebounds and points scored at Piscataway High School and won NCAA Championships with the University of Connecticut in 2000 and 2002. Jones is a two-time WNBA All-Star who plays for the Connecticut Sun. The women’s basketball competition begins on Saturday, July 28. The U.S. team will play Croatia in their first game.
Rebecca Soni, 25, of Plainsboro is making her second trip to the Olympics. She won a gold medal in the 200-meter breaststroke and silver medals in the 100-meter breaststroke and 4×100-meter medley in 2008. At the 2011 World Championships, Soni won gold medals in the 100-meter breaststroke, 200-meter breaststroke, and 4×100-meter medley, as well as a bronze medal in the 50-meter breaststroke. The women’s 100-meter breaststroke competition begins on July 29; the 200-meter breaststroke competition begins on Aug. 1. The U.S. swimming team also includes Connor Jaeger, 21, of Fair Haven, who will compete in the 1,500-meter freestyle.
Nick Delpopolo, 23, of Westfield will represent the United States in the 73 kg weight class in judo. He won gold medals in the Venezuela World Cup and El Salvador World Cup in 2010, and took silver in the USA Judo Senior National Championships. Delpopolo’s weight class is scheduled to begin competition on Monday, July 30.
Dagmara Wozniak, 24, of Avenel is part of the fencing team and competes in the saber event. She earned a bronze medal at the 2010 Pan American Championships and is ranked as one of the top 10 saber fencers in the world. The women’s saber competition begins on Tuesday, Aug. 1. The fencing team also includes Maya Lawrence, 32, of Teaneck, who will compete in the epee event.
Rachael Dawson, 26, of Berlin, and Michelle Vittese, 22, of Cherry Hill are part of the women’s field hockey team; Jordan Burroughs, 24, of Sicklerville will be competing for the wrestling team, and Christina McHale, 20, of Englewood Cliffs will play singles tennis.
Two New Jersey residents are part of the track team: Julie Culley, 30, of Lebanon will run in the 5,000-meter race, while Jeff Porter, 26, of Somerset, will run the 110-meter hurdles. Matt Emmons, 31, of Browns Mills will compete in two shooting events. Steven Gluckstein, 22, of Atlantic Highlands, will compete on the trampoline, and Steve Kasprzyk, 30, of Cinnaminson, will be part of the Men’s Eight rowing team.