After the pandemic sidelined world-class athletes in 2020, at least 18 Olympic contenders with roots in New Jersey have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.
Some return after an appearance in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016 – while others find themselves at their first Olympics.
Here is the overview of the contenders grouped by sport, the opening ceremony being set for July 23.
By the time the Dunellen native graduated from Union Catholic High School in Scotch Plains in 2017, she had already visited Rio as part of her first experience with Team USA. Before Tokyo, McLaughlin, now 21, broke the world record in the 400-meter hurdles, as the first woman to time in under 52 seconds (51.9 seconds).
The 19-year-old Trenton resident is bound for Tokyo, after setting an Olympic trials record of 1: 56.0 in the women’s 800-meters. Mu is already considered a star at Texas A&M University, after only a year on his school’s track team.
The “Jersey Born, Philly Based” Wilson was a high school athletics star in Neptune. She is looking to add to the silver medal she won in Rio in 2016.
Orji reached new heights in the triple jump in New Jersey, setting a state record as a senior at Mount Olive High School in 2014. She partially credits youth participation in gymnastics for her early success in athletics, according to his Team USA biography.
A lot of Olympic debut for the Voorhees native in 2016, as she and her team won a gold medal in the 4×100 relay in Rio de Janeiro. Gardner, a 2009 graduate of Eastern Regional High School, made her debut at the Carl Lewis Track Club in NJ at the age of 12.
The Toms River native and current resident is an MLB veteran, having played for the Mets, Yankees, Rangers, White Sox and Reds. He was nominated for a mission by the Pirates in May and was excited on social media to be part of Team USA in Tokyo.
With two gold medals to her name, the Delran native (and pro player of NJ / NY Gotham FC) is ready for her fourth Summer Olympics.
Like her teammate, this is Heath’s fourth Summer Olympics, with two gold medals to her name already. Heath grew up in the Basking Ridge section of Bernards Township and is a graduate of Ridge High School (Class of 2006).
The former Piscataway high school student competed in his first Olympics in 2016 and is now heading to Tokyo. “While the last 5 years have been full of chaos and uncertainty, it made me realize how much I really love the trip,” Brown wrote on Instagram after qualifying in June.
Wozniak grew up in the Avenel section of Woodbridge, graduating from Colonia High School. She competed in the London Olympics in 2012 and won a bronze medal at the Rio Games in 2016. At the height of the pandemic, her training, including backyard exercises in Jersey City, focused on her fruit as she made her way to Tokyo.
Jacqueline “Jackie” Dubrovnik
Copenhague, a native of Riverdale and a graduate of Pompton Lakes High School, is on her way to her first Olympics. She started fencing at the age of 8.
The Wayne native was the first high school fencer in New Jersey to win four straight state championships. From Wayne Valley High School, Russo rose to prominence at Notre Dame University and is now heading to Tokyo, as a replacement athlete for the women’s saber.
The Teaneck native and current NJIT undergraduate was a member of the 2019 US Saber Team and is heading to his first Olympics as a substitute athlete for the US Men’s Saber Team in Tokyo.
The West Orange resident and Montclair High School graduate qualified for the U.S. team roster in May. He was temporarily suspended and then cleared to compete in Tokyo, as the U.S. Center for SafeSport investigated the misconduct allegations, the Montclair local reported.
The Fair Lawn native who trains in Princeton returns to the Olympics in a duet with Megan Kalmoe, having first visited the Rio Summer Games in 2016.
Her current ties to training at Princeton are enough for NJ fans to support Kohler, despite being a California girl by birth.
Reckford’s hometown was the Short Hills section of Millburn, before she left out of state to master rowing while attending Phillips Exeter Academy and then Dartmouth College. His grandfather, Bill Spencer, was a two-time Olympian and longtime coach for the US biathlon team.
Pearson has hometown ties with the New Vernon section of Harding Township, as well as Spring Lake in Monmouth County. The 27-year-old attended Delbarton School while growing up as a runner, competitive swimmer and lifeguard.
AWAY by injury in 2021
The gymnast from Old Bridge and double Olympic medalist (silver, bronze) had participated in other summer games, this time in Tokyo. But she withdrew from competition in early June after “hyperextension of the left knee” during warm-ups, according to USA Gymnastics. After an on-camera appearance at the NBC Olympic Trials, fans pressed to see more of Hernandez, 21, as a commentator.