They range in age from 17 to 37, perform in sports as popular as swimming and technically demanding as the triple jump and each carry hopes of leaving the 2012 Olympic Games with a medal around their neck.
For these 21 athletes with New York ties, the next two weeks will provide the ultimate test of endurance in their discipline. Here are the locals to keep an eye on in London.
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Lia Neal gets set for the start of preliminary heat 15 of the Women’s 50 m Freestyle during Day Six of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team Trials at CenturyLink Center on July 1, 2012 in Omaha, Nebraska.
Lia Neal: Born in Brooklyn, molded in Manhattan, Neal, a rising senior at Convent of the Sacred Heart on the Upper East Side, elicits attention for her background (the second African-American female swimmer to reach the Olympics) but her speed is sublime. Look for Neal to assist the 4×100 freestyle relay team in battling the Australians and Dutch for space on the podium. Her inexperience will be balanced with the battle-tested resume of Natalie Coughlin, a three-time Olympian with 11 medals. At 17, Neal will be expected to establish herself in London, then build on the experience in Rio come 2016 when Brazil hosts the world’s best.
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Cullen Jones of the United States competes in the Men’s 50m Butterfly heats during Day Nine of the 14th FINA World Championships at the Oriental Sports Center on July 24, 2011 in Shanghai, China.
Cullen Jones: Blink and you’ll miss Jones blitzing across the million-gallon pool. The fastest American sprinter, Jones, from the Bronx, once nearly drowned as a five-year-old, but built up the confidence to overcome any nightmares. In London, he will compete in the 50-meter and 100-meter races at the Aquatic Center, carrying America’s best hopes for a gold in the events.
He relished the underdog role at the U.S. Swim Trials in Omaha earlier this month, and again will push to place his hand on the wall first both in individual sprints as well as the 4×100 relay with his fellow Americans, including Michael Phelps.
Jones juggled increased responsibility in the swimming community since the Beijing Games in 2008. He crisscrossed the country encouraging parents and children to learn necessary strokes for swim safety, but his role will change from tutor to attacker over the first week in England.
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New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler (6) runs down a loose ball.
Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler: Want to see Anthony play alongside point guard Chris Paul? Here’s your best chance. No roster manipulation will be needed for Anthony to take the court among a constellation of stars. He thrives in isolation plays as a Knick and will do so with Team USA as he travels to London with Knicks center Chandler and is reunited with former Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni, who struggled to get Anthony to buy into his system. Both player and coach maintain that no fences need mending, but Anthony’s surrounding cast should make things seamless as he looks to add another gold to an international resume that far outshines his ring-less years in the NBA.