As the opening ceremonies in London officially begin the 2012 Olympic Games, many Central New Yorkers are reflecting back on the Beijing opening ceremonies in 2008, where Tully's Lopez Lomong was the U.S. Flag bearer just months after earning his American citizenship. Lomong captured the hearts of the nation after spending much of his youth in a Kenyan refugee camp before coming to the United States. Barbara and Robert Rogers, who took Lopez in as their foster child back in 2001, were reflecting back this week on how far Lomong has come since he was a track star at Tully High School, and even since he fell short of an Olympic medal in the 15-hundred meters at the 2008 Olympics.
"He knows what he needs to do now," says Robert Rogers, "and he understands his body and the training he needs to put into it, and what works for him and what doesn't work for him, and when to give it a break so he doesn't break himself. He's been through so many things he just knows where he's at."
"I know that he's ready for this," says Barbara Rogers, "and I think he's really gonna leave it all out on the track."
Lomong will be competing in the 5-thousand meters this time around, the longer distance obviously creating a completely different game plan. Lomong's high school coach Jim Paccia says that Lopez's experience is helping him craft what he hopes is the perfect Olympic plan in his second go-around.
"The first one he was like a little boy with wide eyes," says Paccia, "just going into a place where he hasn't been before. But he's been there now and he knows what the field is going to be. He (knows) who he has to beat."
Lomong will compete in round one of the 5-thousand meters on August 8th, with the finals slated for August 11th.
Learn about all of theOlympic athletes with Central New York connections on our website in the Olympic Zone. You can also check out the Twitter feeds for a number of CNY athletes by clicking this link.