Tuesday, August 12, 2008
5808: Keeping Up With The Joneses At Olympics.
From The New York Daily News…
Riding Olympic wave Bronx-born swimmer now champ in Beijing
By Edgar Sandoval and Corky Siemaszko
Daily News Staff Writers
Bronx-born swimmer Cullen Jones didn’t just help power the U.S. relay swim team to Olympic gold — he just may have shattered the stereotype that blacks can’t swim.
Although Jones isn’t the first African-American swimmer to make the Olympic squad (he’s the third), or the first to win a gold medal (he’s the second), he figured in one of the most exciting races in sports history.
And that thriller will be replayed on Olympic highlight reels for generations to come. “I hope this exposure from the race today, a kid can see this and say, ‘Wow, a black swimmer — and he’s got a gold medal,’” Jones, 24, said. “The stigma that black people don’t swim ended today.”
“That’s great,” said Jones’ teammate Michael Phelps, who also romped to victory today in the 200-meter freestyle for his third-straight gold medal of the Games.
As for Jones, the reason he began swimming in the first place is because the water nearly killed him.
Jones was 5 years old and living in Irvington, N.J., when his parents took him to a Pennsylvania water park to cool off. His mother, Debra, didn’t want him to go down a slide in an inner tube because he couldn’t swim.
Jones should have listened to his mother. When the inner tube flipped over, he panicked instead of letting go and then passed out.
It took CPR to bring him back to life. The next week, his mother sent him for swimming lessons at a YMCA in nearby Newark and then the John F. Kennedy Aquatic Center, which is also in Newark. Jones took to the water immediately, but wasn’t a standout at first, his coaches said. “At first he was an average swimmer and he progressed,” said Elliott Bradley. “The more he progressed, the better he got at it. I never thought he would go this far. I’m very proud of him.”
[Read the full story here.]