New York Olympians hope to make their mark in London
Nine New Yorkers will represent their state in London starting Friday. We caught up with three stars from the Big Apple who are looking to make their mark in Olympic history.
Nicole Ross, 23, fencingAfter 14 years of competitive fencing, Ross nearly saw her dreams slip away last October when a rare muscle disease almost forced her out of the World Fencing Championship in Catania, Italy. But with the support of her family and friends, she pushed through, notching one of the highest results of her career and paving the way for her trip to London.
Now the third-ranked female fencer in the country, Ross -- who first got into the sport after seeing the movie "The Princess Bride" -- said making it to this year's Olympics has validated all the demanding work she's done.
"The traveling schedule doesn't leave a lot of time to socialize with friends and family at home, and I put off getting my degree for a year and a half to do this," said Ross, who lives on the Upper West Side and will finish her undergraduate degree in art history at Columbia in December.
"But despite missing out on a lot of things that normal 20-something people do, I'm happy to give up those things in order to do this because it's such an amazing experience to finally be here and be reaping all of the benefits," Ross said.
Nzingha Prescod, 19, fencing
After earning the gold medal at the World Cup in Budapest, combined with a stellar first three months of this year, Prescod knew back in March that she would be headed to London.
"I just felt like, 'Oh, this moment is finally here,' " the Brooklynite said. "I couldn't be more excited that it was happening."
Prescod started fencing at age 9 when her mom signed her up at the Peter Westbrook Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that introduces fencing to kids.
Prescod, a sophomore at Columbia, took to it naturally, and now, 10 years later, she's seeing the fruition.
"This is an amazing place," she said of her London digs. "My family is so proud, and they're so excited to come watch me and the U.S. team hopefully bring home some medals."
Daryl Homer, 22, fencing
At 5 years old, Homer read about fencing in a children's dictionary. His mom initially brushed him off, but about five years later, he saw an advertisement for fencing that featured a black Olympian during the 2000 Olympics. Inspired, Homer brought it up to his mom again and she signed him up for a fencing club.
"My family is extremely supportive of me fencing," said Homer, a St. Johns University student. "My mom is very involved. ... She understands the intensity of a fencing competition."
Homer said that despite the spectacle that now surrounds him, he's still the same old Daryl.
"I try to keep everything fairly constant," he said. "I still hang out with friends and chill with my family in between training. This keeps me grounded and humble."