Borough President Donovan Richards officially declared Oct. 1 Tina Charles and Dalilah Muhammad Day in Queens while on the steps of Borough Hall in Kew Gardens last Friday.
“The Queens of Queens,” as Councilwoman Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica) called the World’s Borough natives, who took home Olympic medals from Tokyo this year and were given proclamations from Richards in front of student athletes from their alma maters, Cardozo High School in Bayside and Christ the King High School in Middle Village. The Metro Eagles Track and Field Club members who train at Roy Wilkins Park in St. Albans, the same place that the track star, Muhammad, practiced with the NOVAS Track Club, were also in attendance.
“They are trendsetters who use their platforms to inspire,” said Richards as he recalled how basketball star Charles distributed food at the Queens Museum food bank in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. “They never forgot that it was Queens that had shaped them.”
Muhammad, 31, is from Rochdale Village and Charles, 32, was born in East Elmhurst and raised in Jamaica.
The two received an additional honor from the borough president.
“It is also my privilege to present to you the Key to Queens, which you have more than earned,” said Richards who gave a key to Muhammad and then to Charles.
Adams also gave the Olympians, who received a gold medal for the USA Women’s National Basketball team and medals for the USA Track & Field team in the 4 x 400 meters relay (gold) and 400 meters hurdles (silver), certificates with the help of Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman (D-Springfield Gardens).
“We are forever proud of you,” said Adams, who represents their hometown. “They say it takes a village to raise a child, but to raise two Olympic gold medalists and international star athletes — people that goes to show the unity of Southeast Queens.”
Among the members of the Metro Eagles Track club were junior Olympians who received certificates from Adams and were encouraged by Hyndman to continue working and persevering in their field so that their training will pay off like it did for Charles and Muhammad.
“I want to thank the both of you, Dalilah and Tina, because I know achieving a dream is hard,” said Hyndman. “To all the young people out here ... it takes dedication, it takes coaches, it takes teachers and it takes a village to make sure these young ladies achieve one of the highest pinnacles in their career.”
Wesley Noble Jr., Amelia Defreitas, Amira-Marie Dixon, Blair Ewers, Meagan Ewers, Nyoki Vicars, Jeremiah Sheppard, Akeeliahia Lewis, Alyssa Lewis, Ayiona Garner, Alyssa Garner, Aryian Walters, Alaysia Gardner, Jelani Johnson, Layla Lindquist, Samir Patel, Chase Cineus, Malachi’ Brown El and Genelle Hayward are the Metro Eagles members who participated in the 2021 Amateur Athletic Union National Junior Olympics. Isayah and Isaac Contreras participated in the USATF Junior Olympics for this year too, according to the coach, Rhanda Hopkins,
The other Junior Olympic participants from Queens are Tori Daniel, Kobe Swift, Kayla Smith and Isaiah Maxwell from NOVAS, according to the Queens Borough Office.
The Covid-19 pandemic was another hurdle that the athletes had to strive through as the 2020 Olympiads were pushed back to this summer, which meant more training for Charles and Muhammad. Despite that, the US teams took home 113 medals (39 gold, 41 silver and 33 bronze).
“It came with unique challenges,” Muhammad said to the Queens Chronicle. “You had to be very adaptive to the new situation.”
Muhammad had to move to Texas in January to prepare for the Olympics a second time after the games were delayed to July 23, 2021 from July 24, 2020.
The outpouring of love at the ceremony humbled both athletes.
“I’m very thankful to be here ... what means more to me is that you all can see us two up here and I hope you guys inspire to be up here too,” said Charles to the student athletes in the crowd. “Thanks for your support.”