American teens set to take London stage
July, 26, 2012
By Susie Arth | ESPN.com
Gerardo Zavala/LatinContent/Getty Images, Courtesy of Teresa KieferLee Kiefer's quest for an Olympic medal begins on Saturday with the women's individual foil.
There will be no easing into the Games for Lee Kiefer. Ditto for her fellow high school-aged Olympians Missy Franklin and Lia Neal.
Kiefer, a recent graduate of Dunbar (Lexington, Ky.), will be going for a medal in individual foil on Saturday, the first full day of the 2012 London Olympics. The fencing competition begins at 6 a.m. (ET), and the gold-medal match is scheduled for 2:40 p.m. Kiefer also will compete in the team event on Aug. 2.
"Of course I want to get a medal this year, and I know I can put up a fight," said Kiefer, who will attend Notre Dame in the fall. "But I don't want to set myself up to be disappointed. [By 2016], I hope to be at my best. I know I haven't reached that point yet."
The hopes are much higher for Franklin, a senior-to-be at Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.). She swims in the first of her scheduled seven events on Saturday, the 4x100 freestyle relay. Neal, a senior-to be at the Convent of the Sacred Heart (New York), is also part of that relay team after finishing fourth in the 100-meter freestyle at the Olympic trials. While Franklin has a jam-packed schedule in London, Saturday will be Neal's lone opportunity to capture gold.
Franklin, obviously, won't get much time to rest. She also is expected to compete in the 100-meter backstroke finals on Monday, the 200 freestyle on Tuesday, the 4x200 freestyle relay on Wednesday, the 100 freestyle next Thursday, the 200 backstroke on Aug. 3 and the 4x100 medley relay on Aug. 4.
The youngest member of the United States' Olympic team, Katie Ledecky, who will be a sophomore at School of the Sacred Heart (Bethesda, Md.), is scheduled to swim in the 800 freestyle on Aug. 3.
Teens are hoping to make an Olympic splash in table tennis, too.
Scott Heavey/Getty ImagesClose friends Lily Zhang, Erica Wu and Ariel Hsing will represent the U.S. in the three-player Olympic team table tennis competition.
Ariel Hsing, who will be a senior at Valley Christian (San Jose, Calif.), Lily Zhang, a junior-to-be at Palo Alto (Calif.), and Erica Wu, a junior-to be at the Westridge School (Pasadena, Calif.) will try to win the United States' first ever medal in table tennis. The women's preliminary singles rounds begin on Sunday, and the finals will be held Aug. 1. The women's team competition begins Aug. 3 and concludes on Aug. 7.
"It feels like I've been waiting for this opportunity for so long, it's been my dream ever since I was a little kid," Zhang said. "Now that it's finally here, it feels like it's still a dream. It just feels amazing."
The women's gymnastics team, which consists of high school-aged stars Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Kyla Ross, gets going on Sunday with the qualification rounds. The United States is the heavy favorite to win gold in the team competition on Tuesday. Douglas and Wieber, who finished 1-2 at the U.S. trials, are also favorites in the all-around competition on Aug. 2. Championships on the individual events will be held Aug. 5-7.
Reed Kessler, an 18-year-old 2012 graduate from the Professional Children's School (New York), is set to make history on Aug. 4. Although records are incomplete, she is believed to be the youngest show jumper in Olympic history. Aboard her horse Cylana, Kessler will compete in both the team event and the individual event. The team champion will be crowned Aug. 6 and the individual champion will be decided Aug. 8.
Claressa Shields, who will be a senior at Northwestern (Flint, Mich.) in the fall, is the last American high school competitor with a chance to medal in London. The middleweight will begin her quest for gold on Aug. 5. The finals are set for Aug. 9. It is the first time women's boxing will be a medal sport at the Olympics.
Click here for a complete schedule of the London Olympics.