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Valley Stream gym hosts audition for Olympic hopefuls

Brooklyn resident Emily Rosario competes at the 24

Brooklyn resident Emily Rosario competes at the 24 Hour Fitness in Valley Stream on June 24, 2017 in a tryout for a program that aims to find Olympic athletes for four sports. Credit: J Conrad Williams Jr

Emily Rosario looks forward to the moment each day that she can lace up her sneakers and go for a run, pushing herself toward a lifelong dream of an Olympic gold medal.

“I know one way or another I’m meant to be in the Olympics,” said Rosario, 26, a single mom from Brooklyn who runs almost daily.

So when Rosario learned she could try out for a new program that aims to find Olympic athletes for skeleton, rugby, bobsled and track cycling, she jumped in the car and headed to Valley Stream’s 24 Hour Fitness.

The U.S. Olympic Committee and 24 Hour Fitness hosted a nationwide tryout day Saturday to find contestants in those four sports for an upcoming NBC Sports television special called “Scouting Camp: The Next Olympic Hopeful.”

From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, more than 25 people gathered in the gym’s basketball court to show off their skills and athleticism. Only 100 people nationally — 50 men and 50 women — will make it to the next round, where they will train at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado as a film crew chronicles their journey to one of the eight final spots.

The exercises Saturday included sprints, high jumps and medicine ball tosses.

“They’re basic agility and endurance tests and they’re the preliminary run for the tryouts,” said gym general manager Caitlin Kammerer. “We’re the only club in New York that’s offering this and we’re really excited.”

The two-hour special will air on NBCSN in August.

Rosario, a mid-distance runner who works in film and television, saw Saturday’s audition as another possible path to the Olympics. She ran track in college and has run for years with the Central Park Track Club, competing at area meets and races.

“If I’m not working, I’m working on this,” she said, adding she thought bobsled or skeleton would be good sports for her skills. “It’s in my blood and my soul.”

For Damiala Jones, 21, of Brooklyn, Saturday’s audition was less about a future journey to the Olympics than his personal fitness journey.

“I wanted to put my athleticism to the test. I’ve been powerlifting for two years,” Jones, a front desk service representative at the Valley Stream gym, said after his audition. “I’m very impressed with my scores, I exceeded my own expectations, so I’m really proud.”

Gym member Verley Clark said he didn’t know about the tryouts when he arrived to play basketball there at 11 p.m. Friday. Someone mentioned it to him as was checking in at the gym, and the Valley Stream resident decided he would audition in the morning.

“I said why not and just tried,” Clark, 20, said. “I used to want to play professional basketball. I never thought about being an Olympian, but if it happens, it happens.”

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