Finally, the delayed 2020 summer Olympics are just around the corner and we couldn’t be more proud of the talented athletes on Team USA that are New Jersey natives. Watching young stars who have grown up in neighborhoods across the Garden State compete in the biggest athletic tournament in the world is thrilling. Check out Team USA’s New Jersey athletes competing in the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer. Who knows, they may live right around the corner from you!
When Do the Tokyo Olympics Start?
After being postponed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the summer 2020 Olympics is going to start on Friday, July 23 and end on Sunday, August 8 in Tokyo, Japan. Oh, and yes. Even though it is now 2021, it is still going to be called the 2020 Olympics.
The Olympics always begins with an Opening Ceremony. It is traditionally a grand event where each country is introduced and given the opportunity to show off its culture and athletes. The Opening Ceremony will begin at 8 p.m. local time on July 23 in Tokyo. Since Japan is 13 hours ahead of ET., you will have to wake up at 7 a.m. to watch the ceremony live. However, it will be re-broadcasted during prime time hours on Friday evening.
While the Opening Ceremony will be on July 23, some longer events like men’s and women’s soccer tournaments will begin on July 21—before the official start of the games.
New Jersey Athletes To Support at the Summer Olympics
Todd Frazier is an MLB veteran known to many of his fans as “The Toddfather.” But to us, Frazier is a New Jerseyan through and through. He was born down the shore in Point Pleasant and grew up in Toms River. He played baseball for Toms River High School South. Instead of signing to the Colorado Rockies after being drafted right after high school, Frazier continued his academic and baseball career at Rutgers.
In 2007, the athlete finally left New Jersey to go on to play for the Cincinnati Reds. Frazier’s career allowed him to play with the Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, New York Mets, and the Pittsburgh Pirates as well. Now, Frazier has returned to New Jersey to play for the Sussex County Miners in order to prepare for the 2020 Olympic Games this year.
Last name look familiar? That’s because Jessica Springsteen is the daughter of the New Jersey legend himself, Bruce Springsteen. However, Springsteen has made a name for herself in horseback riding. The athlete has represented the United States Equestrian team for many years. Springsteen spent most of her childhood growing up in Colts Neck, New Jersey on her family’s horse farm called Stone Hill Farm. The New Jersey native has been riding since she was four years old and is now about to ride on the Olympics stage.
This is not Dagmara (Daga) Wozniak’s first time competing for Team USA in the Olympics. The veteran will be returning to represent the United States this year in Tokyo. Although Wozniak was originally born in Warsaw, Poland, her family immigrated to the U.S. when she was only a year old. Wozniak grew up in Avenel, NJ and attended Colonia High School. She was the state sabre champion in 2005 and continued her academic and athletic career at St. John’s University. This two-time Olympian and bronze medalist will compete once again in Tokyo this year.
Born in Paterson, New Jersey, Jacqueline (Jackie) Dubrovich grew up in Riverdale and attended Pompton Lakes High School. From there, she continued her education at Columbia University and has competed in the 2019 World Fencing Championships. This 26-year-old foil fencing champion is on her way to her very first Olympic Games!
Alen Hadzic is a Montclair High School alumni who now lives in West Orange, New Jersey. Hadzic is attending the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as an alternate for the U.S. Men’s Saber Team. However, the Montclair Local reported that Hadzic was briefly suspended after sexual misconduct allegations on June 2, 2021. He has recently been cleared to compete in the need for a substitute, but the investigation is ongoing.
Francesca Russo made history in New Jersey as the first high school fencer to win four consecutive state championships for Wayne Valley High School. Russo grew up in Wayne and attended the University of Notre Dame for fencing as well. This year, she will be joining Team USA as an alternate for the women’s saber team. As an alternate, Russo hopes to be the most multifaceted fencer she can in preparation of having to sub into an event.
Khalil Thompson has remained a New Jersey native throughout his life. After growing up in Teaneck, New Jersey in Bergen County, he continued his education and athletic career right in Newark at NJIT. Thompson is still an undergraduate at NJIT as he heads to his first Olympic games. He currently ranks fourth in the U.S. and is attending as an alternative for the U.S. Men’s Saber Team.
This American judoka was born and raised in the Garden State. Colton Brown attended Piscataway High School and has been competing in Judo for many years. In fact, the New Jersey athlete attended the 2016 Rio Olympics and is heading back this year to compete in Tokyo. Judo is considered a modern Japanese martial art, so Brown will be competing in the sport’s home country this summer.
Tracy Eisser is a Fair Lawn native that will be one of the New Jersey athletes competing on the U.S. rowing team in the Tokyo Olympics. The rower was born in Summit, NJ and attended Fair Lawn High School. Eisser later continued her rowing and academic career at Cornell University. This is her second Olympic Games after competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics where she earned fifth place overall. Eisser rows in the quadruple sculls and will compete in the event in Tokyo in the upcoming weeks.
Another Team USA veteran, this will be Kara Kohler second Olympic games. Kohler is originally from California, but currently resides and trains in Princeton, New Jersey. She competed in the quadruple sculls in the 2012 London Olympics but was not selected for the 2016 Games in Rio. After nearly quitting the sport, Kohler made a comeback training in the single sculls event. In 2019, she won bronze at the 2019 World Championship and won the Olympic Trials race to qualify as the single sculls rower on this year’s USA Rowing Team in Tokyo.
Molly Reckford was raised in Short Hills, New Jersey before she attended Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire for boarding school. The rower learned her trade during her time at boarding school and upon attending Dartmouth for college, Reckford walked onto the rowing team. Reckford says that she credits her dreams to her grandparents and her competitive nature to her sister and father. In fact, Reckford’s grandfather Bill Spencer was a two-time Olympian and coached Team USA in the Biathlon.
Reckford and her teammate Michelle Sechser received first place in the lightweight women’s double sculls event to earn their spot on Team USA and their first trip to the Olympics.
This popular star on the US Women’s National Soccer Team was born right here in Delran, New Jersey. Carli Lloyd has spent much of her life in NJ. After attending Delran High School, she continued her professional and academic career at Rutger University. The Garden State Native has been a part of the most successful national soccer team in US history for several years. Professionally, she plays midfielder for NJ/NY Gotham FC in the Women’s National Soccer League year-round. On the national team, Lloyd also plays midfield in jersey #10.
Lloyd is no stranger to winning at the Olympics or winning in general for that matter. She is a four-time Olympian, a two-time gold medalist in the Olympic Games, a two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion, and a two-time FIFA Player of the Year. You are not going to want to miss watching Lloyd’s skill on the field at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
From Morristown, New Jersey, Tobin Heath has been described as “the USA’s most skillful player” by the United States Soccer Federation and was voted the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year in 2016. The American professional soccer player played for UNC in college and helped lead them to three NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championships. Heath has professionally played for several teams and leagues including the New Jersey Wildcats, New York Fury, as well as internationally for Paris Saint-Germain in France and Manchester United in England. Heath has been part of the US Women’s National Soccer Team for several years alongside Lloyd as a forward.
Similar to Lloyd, Heath was born to be a soccer player and a winner. She is a two-time gold medalist in the Olympic Games and a two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion.
Also from Morristown, New Jersey, Nic Fink is a competitive swimmer that specializes in breaststroke events. He attended The Pingry School in Basking Ridge, New Jersey and pursued swimming and electrical engineering at the University of Georgia. The swimmer currently competes for the Cali Condors in the International Swimming League. This year, Fink qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and will be swimming the 200-meter breaststroke event for Team USA this summer.
Track and Field
Voorhees Township native, English Gardner is a track and field sprinter who specializes in the 100-meter dash. She graduated from Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees and continued to run at the University of Oregon. Gardner has qualified for the World Championships in Athletics in 2013 and 2015. In the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, she competed in the 100-meter dash and won gold. Now, Gardner is returning to the Olympics again in hopes of gaining another medal this year.
Sydney McLaughlin is a young track star that competed in her first Olympics when she was still in High School at Union Catholic Regional High School. She was the youngest Team USA Olympian in 2016. The runner grew up in Dunellen, New Jersey and has been breaking records since the age of 14. McLaughlin specializes in sprinting and hurdle events. She has continued her career in the classroom and the track at the University of Kentucky. This year during the Olympic Trials, McLaughlin became the World Record Holder in the Women’s 400-meter hurdles. Her time was 51.9 seconds, the only woman to ever break 52 seconds in the event.
After growing up in Trenton, New Jersey, Athing Mu has continued to set records as a middle-distance runner. Mu the second-fastest ever run the 600-meters indoors and by an American in any condition. She is studying at Texas A&M this fall and continuing to run for them. The track star qualified for the 800-meter event and will be attending the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. After running the second-fastest time in American history and breaking a world record, Mu qualified for the Tokyo Olympics with a time of 1:56:00 minutes.
Keturah Orji was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, and grew up in Mount Olive. After graduating high school, Orji attended the University of Georgia. She is a triple jumper on Team USA’s track and field team and has set a new US triple jump record two times. She competed in the Rio Olympics in 2016 and we will watch her fly once again at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
A Florence, New Jersey native, Curtis Thompson will be one of Team USA’s New Jersey athletes this summer at the Tokyo Olympics. During the Olympic trials, Thompson stole the javelin title. He attended Florence Township Memorial High School and now is a recent graduate and track star at Mississippi State University.
Anjee Wilson’s hometown is Neptune Township, New Jersey. The track star attended the Academy of Allied Health and Science in Neptune and committed to Florida State before becoming a professional middle-distance runner. Wilson currently holds the record for the US 800-meter event with a time of 1:55:61. After qualifying at the Olympic Trials, this will be Wilson’s second Olympic games.
Originally from Spring Lake, New Jersey, Morgan Pearson will be competing in the Triathlon event at the Tokyo Olympics. Pearson grew up as an ocean lifeguard, competitive swimmer and high school runner. He has won a number of international triathlon competitions and qualified this year to be part of Team USA’s Triathlon team. Unfortunately, Pearson’s brother passed away in March 2021. He says that, “Hopefully when I’m at the Olympics, he’ll be there with me.”
Will you be watching any of these New Jersey natives compete in the Tokyo Olympics? Let us know in the comments below.
Main photo by Kyle Dias
About the Author/s
Meg is studying magazine journalism and civic engagement at Syracuse University with a passion for writing and editing. She is a Jersey girl at heart and has a slight obsession with Chai Tea Lattes.