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Bronxites in quest for the gold

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Starting on Friday, August 8, all eyes of the world will be on Beijing, China and the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, as the United States attempts to fulfill its quest for the gold. 

Out of the hundreds of athletes from the United States and the thousands from across the globe, two medal hopefuls call the Bronx their home.  

Riverdale’s Timothy Morehouse, 30, will look to succeed in the elite fencing competition while his south Bronx counterpart Taraje Williams-Murray looks to stronghold the competition in his battle for judo prominence. 

“I can’t think of a bigger honor than to represent your country on a world stage,” Morehouse said, noting that it would be his second straight trip to the Summer Olympics.  “To be an Olympian is a dream come true for me.”

Morehouse did not begin his quest for the Olympics like most athletes, who seem born with the gift to achieve. 

In fact, according to the Bronxite, at the age of 13, Morehouse initially saw fencing as little more than a good excuse to avoid taking gym class at Riverdale Country School, but once he had the opportunity to learn how to use the blade, he was hooked. 

But he was not as good as his peers, just avoiding being kicked of his team by coach Martin Schneider.  That did not stop him.  Morehouse persevered, developing a reputation for his hard work and flawless attendance, earning him the team’s captaincy in his junior and senior years. 

Still not the strongest fencer on the team, Morehouse had to accept the only offer he received from a fencing school, Brandeis University.  “I’m the school’s first Olympian,” he said. 

After a slow start, Morehouse soon became one of the strongest college fencers in the country, becoming a three-time University Athletic Association champion and a three-time All-American, while earning top-10 NCAA finishes in a row during his final three years. 

Morehouse was selected as a first alternative for the U.S. team to participate in the Athens Olympic Games in 2004 and then qualified for the national team in the following three seasons, competing in World Championships and improving his results at each competition. His success was rewarded, as he was selected in April to represent the U.S. in Beijing. 

He arrived on Sunday, August 3.  “I can’t believe we are actually here now,” he wrote enthusiastically in his blog.  “I f I could just not sleep for the next three weeks, that would be ideal since there is so much to do and see and I don’t want to miss anything.”

Murray, who did not return requests for response, was equally enthusiastic in his blog.  “I have been here in Beijing for three days now and things have been going great,” he wrote on August 4.  “The village is beautiful. Everything was prepared for our arrival and the volunteers are the most polite and helpful.  The athletes who have been to multiple Olympics rank this village as the best they have ever seen.”

Murray took up judo in 1992, at 8-year-old, after his cousin started in the sport.  His five other siblings also participated in judo with his sisters Kaure and Kinanda medaling in the senior nationals.  However, Murray was the only one to stick with the sport, taking over the top spot at 60 kilograms on the senior team, winning the 2003 Rendez Vous Canada, 2004 and 2007 New York Open, the 2003-2005 and 2007 National Championships, the 2004 Olympic Trials and the 2005 and 2007 World Trials. 

Having already earned a spot in the Athens Olympic Games, Murray also won this year’s U.S. Olympic Trials, earning him his second straight chance at Olympic gold.  The Wakefield resident would be the first American to do so if he wins.  Regardless, he and his fellow Bronx Olympian, Morehouse are just excited about the opportunity. 

“I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of people from all around the world and really being an ambassador for the United States,” Morehouse said.  “It’s amazing to have an event like the Olympics that can really transcend all that’s happening in the world and bring us all together.”

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