Tag Archives: USA

St. John’s fencer finishes sixth in men’s individual saber at Olympics


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of St. John’s University

Daryl Homer was underrated going into the men’s individual saber event in the London Olympics, since it was his first-ever appearance in the pinnacle of athletic competition.

But the 18-seeded Homer shocked everyone when he upset world ranked No. 2 Alexey Yakimenko of Russia, 15-14, showcasing the strength of the U.S. fencing team.

“In my honest opinion, I think Russia came here today thinking they were going to walk all over us,” Homer said. “We just proved to them that they’re going to have to rewrite their plan if they want to beat us.”

Homer, a student of St. John’s University, tied St. John’s alum Keeth Smart for the highest finish in men’s individual saber (sixth) since the 1984 games.

Homer received a first round bye to start the 64-bracket tournament, but in the round of 32, Homer won his first bout against Romania’s Tiberiu Dolniceanu, 15-11.

In the ensuing round, Homer dominated early against Yakimenko, taking a 14-9 lead before the Russian national tied the score with five consecutive touches. The fencers then had five straight standoffs where neither received a point, because they were ruled simultaneous attacks.

Yury Gelman, coach of the Olympic team and St. John’s fencing program, gave the 22-year old some advice during the match, as referees watch instant video replay of the fencers’ attacks.

“Yury told me to keep the pressure on him, stay confident, and be sharp,” Homer said. “He said not to watch, because Yakimenko is amazing at his invitations.”

Following his coach’s guidance Homer was able to land the final blow and pull off the upset.

But, the young fencer’s run would come to an end in the round of eight when he lost to Romania’s Rares Dumitrescu, 15-13, despite defeating a stronger opponent a round earlier.

“Yakimenko is a fencer who’s more comfortable for me stylistically,” Homer said. “He’s going for more meditated actions and is fencing more off his tactics. Dumitrescu is more difficult for me. He’s strong. He’s huge.”

Homer isn’t done just yet.

He is set to compete in the men’s team saber event on August 3, and he is sure his previous performance delivered a direct message.

“We had our plan and it was successful,” Homer said. “If we can execute in the team event, I’m very confident in how we’ll do.”

Another St. John’s fencer, saber Dagmara Wozniack, will compete in the women’s individual tournament in London on August 1.

New citizens sworn in at Queens Center


| amanning@queenscourier.com

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“I pledge allegiance to the flag…” rang out the voices of 30 children who had become citizens of the United States just moments before the patriotic ceremony held at the Queens Center Mall.

The young men and women were administered the Oath of Allegiance to the United States in the 11th Annual Citizenship Ceremony held by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It was an exciting day for the children who represented 16 countries, ranging from Haiti to Thailand.

As children anxiously fiddled with their American flags, Dawn Simon, senior marketing manager of Queens Center, described “one of the best events” at the mall, saying that it is “driven, strong, and purposeful… and encapsulates Queens’ ethnic diversity.”

Joseph Cardinale, field office director, was the master of ceremonies. While he led the children, who ranged in age from five to 15, in proudly waving their flags, he reminded them that this is “once in a lifetime, so make the most out of it, make the best out of it.”

Wenxu Chen, 14, realizes the importance of Cardinale’s message. “This day is very important,” he said, adding that he will never forget it. Originally from China, Chen has been in this country for six years. Although he was admittedly very nervous today, he still had fun, a sentiment that would probably resound with all of the other children who took part in the ceremony.

The patriotic event included a keynote address from Borough President Helen Marshall, herself the daughter of Guyanese immigrants. She repeated a common theme, telling the children to make sure that they go forth and serve the country that is now officially theirs.

“We want to encourage you to continue in the spirit of giving back to your community through service and volunteering, and to never, ever give up your dreams,” said Simon in her welcoming remarks.

The newly minted young citizens were even shown a congratulatory message from President Barack Obama, who urged them to “keep the beacon that is America burning bright for the world to see.”

“U.S. citizenship is the best gift that the Citizenship and Immigration Services can bestow upon someone, so we value having that authority,” said Shyconia Burden-Noten, Community Relations Officer of the USCIS. “Just the look on the faces of the citizens. It’s phenomenal. It makes you proud to be an American.”