Brooklyn fencer Yeisser Ramirez says he never thought he’d make it to the Olympic Games, but on Friday Ramirez will be standing alongside other Team USA members repping his home borough in the Games’ opening ceremony.
Ramirez, who missed out on the 2016 Games when Team USA didn’t qualify for a full team, will be making his first appearance as part of the country’s fencing team, Patch reports.
The Cuban-born fencer has previously won the USA Fencing Division I National Championship and has represented the United States at the 2015 Senior World Championships.
The now 34-year-old came to the United States when he was 21 years old, and became a U.S. citizen in 2015.
“Coming from Guantanamo, I never thought about being in the Olympic Games, but I always had the feeling of ‘man, what it would be like to go there,'” Ramirez said in an interview with USA Fencing.
“I was taking to my cousin yesterday and remembering when we used to watch the Olympic Games and I always felt like, ‘The United States always wins … the United States is always a big team. Wow. It’s nice representing the United States of America.’ So now making the team means a lot. It means a lot to me.”
Ramirez is one of four fencers in the Olympic Games from Harlem’s Peter Westbrook Foundation training center, which was founded by Olympic bronze medalist Peter Westbrook to use fencing as a tool to enrich the lives of young people from underserved communities, its website says.
The other athletes from the center include Daryl Homer from the Bronx, Curtis McDowald from Jamaica and Khalil Thompson, from New Jersey.
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