Tag Archives: London

Brrrrrrrr! How Queens is dealing with the cold


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Anthony O'Reilly

BY ANTHONY O’REILLY

Baby it’s cold outside.

With temperatures expected to stay below freezing, and wind chill factors making it feel even colder over the next week, Queens residents are bundling up to protect themselves from the frigid temperatures.

Richard Schaffer, 51, of Bayside, volunteers to do yard work for the Lutheran Redeemer Church on Bell Boulevard. Schaffer says the only outdoor work he does during the winter months is to change the outside sign of the church, but even that is challenging with the cold.

“Unfortunately, you can’t change letters while wearing gloves,” he said.

Schaffer’s strategy for staying warm during the cold months, he says, is to avoid confronting it.

“I try to go outside as little as possible.”

Schaffer also said he had just come back from London, where there was snow and temperatures of about 30 degrees. He said that although there was snow in the UK, he’d prefer the weather from across the pond over the temperatures here.

“We didn’t know how good we had it over there.”

Lyle Sclair, executive director of the Bayside Village Business Improvement District (BID), said during cold stretches, the employees who are outside sweeping the streets are provided with “weather appropriate clothes.”

“We provide them with a full body suit that goes over their regular uniform,” he said. “That’s because we value their service.”

A BID worker sweeping the streets of Bell Boulevard also wore an insulated face mask to keep his face warm while working outside.

When asked if employees had ever complained about working during the colder days, he said he wasn’t aware of any such instances happening.

Forecasts predict a light accumulation of snow for Friday, Jan. 25 and a mix of snow and rain for Tuesday, Jan. 29.

Despite this, Sclair says that BID workers will still be outside working if necessary.

St. John’s fencers meet Obama


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of St. John’s University

They got to travel and compete in London, and now two St. John’s University fencers can add meeting the president to their stat sheet.

Seniors Daryl Homer and Dagmara Wozniak met President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden last week as part of the commander in chief’s meeting with USA’s Olympians a month after they crossed the pond to compete.

“I’m unbelievably grateful to have met President Obama,” Homer said in a release from St. John’s. “This is a memory I will always cherish.”

Homer took a year off from NCAA eligibility to train and practice for the summer games. During that time he trained twice a day, focusing on footwork, sparring and practicing drills, adding up to around 20 hours a week.

He finished sixth in men’s saber at the summer games — the best for an American in that class this year — after he beat Russian second-seeded Alexey Yakimenko in his first round.

Although Wozniak traveled to Beijing with team USA in 2008 as a substitute player, she did not walk with the other athletes or take part in the games. The Polish-born Wozniak finally made her Olympic appearance this year. She finished eighth in the women’s saber competition — reaching the quarterfinals — following her victory over the seventh seed in the round of 16.

Wozniak said meeting the president was something that would stick with her forever.

“It was an amazing day,” Wozniak said. “Meeting the president and being able to take a tour of the White House is something I’ll never forget.”

Wozniak finished her final year of NCAA eligibility this year, according to the release, but will continue at St. John’s to complete her degree.

Both fencers are planning on, and looking forward to, representing the U.S. again in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

— With additional reporting by Liam La Guerre

Two Johnnies fence for Olympic gold


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

red storm fencers

The Red Storm has had a lot to talk about lately.

Its women’s basketball team made its first appearance in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen; the baseball team broke into the NCAA Super Regionals and had five players drafted by the major leagues; and Maurice Harkless is the first Johnny to be drafted by the NBA in about decade.

And if that was not enough, the Red Storm is set to roll into London for the Summer Olympic Games when sabers Daryl Homer and Dagmara Wozniak will go for the gold in fencing.

Although the dream to become an Olympian was the same for Homer and Wozniak, the paths taken to the Games were slightly different.

Homer is a native of the Virgin Islands who grew up in the Bronx. He got the itch for fencing after watching a sword wielding figure in a commercial for the 2000 Olympics, when he was 11. So he did what all kids interested in something new would do.

“I just kind of bugged my mom like ‘hey can I try that it looks really cool,’” Homer said. “What little kid doesn’t want to stab people with swords?”

His mother signed him up in the Peter Westbrook Foundation in Manhattan, which is a non-profit organization that trains inner-city kids in fencing.

There he met current St. John’s University head coach Yury Gelman.

Homer followed Gelman, his first and only coach, all the way to St. John’s.

Gelman didn’t realize Homer could become an Olympian at first, but noted improvement through the years.

“I saw his talent, but I wasn’t sure if he would be able to work hard enough,” Gelman said. “But he did. He changed his behavior at age 16, dramatically.”

That hard work led Homer to dominate at the college level. He won three world medals and back-to-back NCAA men’s saber championships.

Homer redshirted his senior year to get more time to prepare for the Olympics. He trained twice a day, for about 20 hours a week, working on footwork and sparring in the morning. He then traveled to the Manhattan Fencing Center in the afternoon to practice drills.

“I think he’s definitely getting to be a much stronger fencer,” Gelman said. He added that one problem Homer may encounter is being nervous on the top stage, because it will be his first Olympic appearance.

However, he has the advantage of his personal coach at his side, since Gelman will also be the Olympic coach for Team USA.

“Our sport is an extremely psychological sport,” Gelman said. “It would probably mean an advantage for him. He knows me very well and I know him very well. And we know how to work together.”

Ranked number one in the nation and 12th in the world, Homer is confident and poised in advance of his matches on July 29 and August 3. But he is also looking forward to just being at the event.

“Walking in the opening ceremonies is going to be amazing so I just want to enjoy the Olympic experience while I am there,” Homer said.

Wozniak, on the other hand, has already been to the Olympics. Four years ago in Beijing, she was a substitute player, but did not get a chance to participate —or even walk in the opening ceremony.

“I was pretty heated about that,” Wozniak said about not getting to even join the other players at the ceremony.

This time around, because women’s saber is not a team event, each country could only field two sabers and one spot was given to veteran Mariel Zagunis, the top female fencer in the nation and a two-time gold medalist.

Wozniak, a Polish native raised in America, also took a year off to prepare and outranked two other competitors for the second slot, finally earning a chance to compete at the Olympic level.

“I think it’s a pretty amazing feeling,” Wozniak said. “It feels like I worked hard all year, and now I get to show that it was well deserved well earned.”

Wozniak, who defeated Zagunis earlier this year, said although she is an underdog for her event on August 1, she won’t give up without a fight.

“People don’t expect me to win. No one is really putting their money on me,” Wozniak said. “I think that I have a small percentage, but I definitely have a chance and I’m going to fight like hell and hopefully come out on top.”

To follow the Olympians, check twitter: @STJ_Fencing, Dagmara (@WozniakUSA) and Daryl (@DarylHomerUSA)

Citi’s Team USA shows Olympic pride in L.I.C.


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Citi

Olympic pride was on full display in Long Island City last week.

To commemorate the 100-day countdown to this summer’s Olympic Games in London, Citi’s Team USA Flag Tour visited the bank’s site in L.I.C. on April 18. Paralympian Kari Miller, who plays sitting volleyball, and Olympian swimmer Cullen Jones – both members of Team Citi through the bank’s Team USA sponsorship – were in attendance to celebrate and support the athletes that will represent the nation in London.

“Today’s event is a great way to celebrate the 100 day milestone to the London 2012 Olympic Games, and we are thrilled to have two Team Citi athletes here to share the spirit and excitement with our employees,” said Maria Veltre, president of Citi’s L.I.C. site. “Few know more about the journey from ambition and achievement than the athletes who dedicate their lives to representing the U.S. in the Olympic and Paralympic Games. We at Citi could not be more proud to support them every step of the way to London.”

During the event, Miler and Jones addressed a crowd of more than 200 people, sharing their personal stories and discussing Citi’s Every Step of the Way program, which benefits U.S. Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls and athletes of all ages across the country. Through the program, a $500,000 donation by Citi to the U.S. Olympic Committee is being represented by 50 million ThankYou Points – the currency of Citi ThankYou Rewards. Each of the 13 athletes on Team Citi chose a local sports initiative that inspired their journey, and the points will be used to aid the programs.

Jones, who nearly drowned at the age of five, is working with the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash Initiative and is raising funds to support saving lives through swimming lessons.

“For Citi to sit back and look at me and the work I’ve been doing outside the pool and say ‘good job’ and we understand that you have inspired other people, you are inspired by these kids and want to help these kids, is a remarkable thing. I am so thankful,” said Jones.

Miller, a former member of the U.S. Army, lost both her legs when her car was struck by a drunk driver. She began working with the Olympic Committee’s Paralympic Military and Veteran Program in 2008 and is currently the program ambassador. She is raising money for a program which introduces wounded service members to Paralympic sports.

“The Every Step of the Way program is awesome because you are not just supporting me, you are supporting our veterans; you are supporting their families,” Miller said. “You have an opportunity to help them out.”