Queens Borough President Donovan Richards presented keys to Queens to two of its beloved daughters, Olympian gold medalists Dalilah Muhammad and Tina Charles, on Friday, Oct. 1.
The gold medalists were surrounded by elected officials and student-athletes from Christ the King High School in Middle Village, Bayside’s Benjamin Cardozo High School as well as the 2021 Junior Olympians from the Metro Eagles youth track and field team on the steps of Queens Borough Hall.
Richards also presented proclamations to the Olympic duo, declaring Oct. 1 Dalilah Muhammad Day and Tina Charles Day in the borough of Queens.
Track and field star Dalilah Muhammad, a native of Rochdale Village, made history at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, when she became the first American woman to win a gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles.
At the 2019 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championship, Muhammad broke the 16-year-old 400-meter hurdles world record with a time of 52.20 seconds. Later that year, she smashed her world record at the 2019 World Championship with 52.16 seconds.
At the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, Muhammad lived up to the anticipation running her fastest time ever with 51.50 seconds in the women’s 400-meter hurdles final, winning the silver medal after Syndey McLaughlin.
Alongside her teammates McLaughlin, Athing Mu and Allyson Felix, Muhammad won her second Olympic career gold medal in the 4×400-meter relay.
Tina Charles, a native of East Elmhurst, won Olympic gold three times with the USA’s women’s basketball team — 2012 in London, 2016 in Rio and 2021 in Tokyo — helping her team win seven straight Olympic gold medals.
Charles, an eight-time WNBA All-Star and the WNBA’s reigning scoring champion, is one of the most decorated professional basketball players of her generation.
She was an All-American at Christ the King High School and a two-time NCAA champion at the University of Connecticut. Charles won the WNBA Rookie of the Year award in 2010 before winning WNBA MVP honors in 2012.
In 2018, Charles was recognized for her charity work off the court when she earned the Basketball Hall of Fame’s Human Spirit Award for her Hopey’s Heart Foundation, which distributes automated external defibrillators to schools, and funded the construction of a 150-seat school in the West African nation of Mali.
Richards was thrilled to welcome Charles and Muhammad, and said he couldn’t think of two more worthy recipients of the keys to Queens.
He described both athletes as “living proof that with hard work and dedication, there is nothing that kids across Queens cannot achieve.”
“Dalilah Muhammad and Tina Charles are more than just legendary athletes and Olympic champions. They are role models and inspirations to the countless young people of our borough — kids who now know that with hard work and dedication, there is no limit to what a child of Queens can achieve,” Richards said. “Dalilah and Tina represent the very best of the ‘World’s Borough,’ and these inspiring women are more than deserving recipients of the key to Queens.”
Councilwoman Adrienne Adams, co-sponsor of the ceremony, was bursting with pride since both athletes and their families call her district home.
Adams, who also presented City Council proclamations recognizing the sportswomen’s achievements, couldn’t feel “but tremendous joy and admiration” for the two young women who grew up in southeast Queens.
She recalled that she was beaming with pride watching them compete in the Tokyo Olympics and said that both athletes were not only inspiration, but also role models to young girls across the country.
“Dalilah Muhammad and Tina Charles are not just history making athletes who have excelled in their respective sports, they are also outstanding role models for our young people, thoughtful citizens and shining ambassadors for Queens. They have always conducted themselves with humility, grace and tremendous poise,” Adams said. “I am proud to celebrate their well-deserved gold medals in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and all of their achievements throughout their illustrious careers. They have made southeast Queens, New York City and the entire country proud.”
Both, basketball great Charles and track and field star Muhammad, were honored to be recognized and celebrated by their community.
Charles thanked her high school coach Bob Mackey, athletic director at Christ the King.
“Personally, I wouldn’t be here without him,” Charles said.
Muhammad remembered growing up as a little girl with a dream.
“I worked really hard to get there with all of your support along the way,” Muhammad said.
The young student-athletes were excited to see their idols in real life and were encouraged to work hard to make it to the top.
Chase Cineus, a 14-year-old who swims, plays basketball and runs the 400- and 800-meter track, said it was great to participate in these sports and win awards.
“I see Olympians that live in my neighborhood, and I feel like I’m able to do that as well,” Cineus said.