Whether flipping, backstroking, lunging, or kicking, these 10 black U.S. Olympians have all excelled at sports traditionally devoid of minority competitors.
Their extraordinary journeys from the the fencing strip, the Tae Kwon Do mat, and the balance beam to the 2012 Olympic games in London demonstrate that athletic excellence knows no boundaries, or color.
After almost drowning at the age of 5, Cullen Jones made it his goal to conquer the water. Now, at 28 years old, Jones has become one of the fastest freestyle sprinters in the country, taking home the gold and setting a world record at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.As the second African American male swimmer to qualify for the Olympics and to win a gold medal, Jones will be diving back into this year’s games in London, where he could possibly shatter even more records.
When it comes to swinging and flying through the air, John Orozco would certainly give Spider Man a run for his money. The 19-year-old has already made history as one of the few black male gymnast to ever grace the Olympic floor mats.Growing up in the Bronx, Orozco overcame incessant taunting from his fellow classmates to eventually become an Olympic contender, just as he had dreamed as a child. “The minute I stepped foot in the gym I just loved it. I knew it was what I wanted to do for a long time,” Orozco told CNN.
Accurately nicknamed “McFierce,” Tae Kwon Do Olympian Paige McPherson is not someone you would want to make angry. A surprise qualifier for this year’s games, she flipped any assumptions viewers may have had when she defeated 2004 silver medalist Nia Abdallah.The 21-year-old is half Filipino, half African American, and originally from Sturgis, South Dakota. One of five adopted kids, McPherson may continue to kick down preconceived notions on the mat at the 2012 Olympics.