PHOTO: Borough President Katz this week presented Queens residents Jennifer Wu and Tahl Leibovitz with Citations of Honor for qualifying for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games, respectively, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo Courtesy of BP Katzs Office
A South Ozone Park man is among the borough residents who have qualified for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Tahl Leibovitz, 40, punched his ticket to the South American city by winning a Gold Medal in Class 9 men’s singles table tennis in the 2015 Parapan Olympic Games this summer in Toronto, Canada.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz on Monday welcomed Leibovitz and Jennifer Wu, a Flushing resident who qualified for the 2016 Olympics by earning a Gold Medal in women’s singles table tennis at the Pan American Games in Toronto, to Borough Hall and presented them with Citations of Honor.
“We in Queens are so proud of Jennifer and Tahl’s accomplishments and are eagerly anticipating seeing them compete in Rio de Janeiro,” Katz said. “Tahl and Jennifer are excellent role models for youth, and in Rio they will certainly be outstanding representatives of our country and the World’s Borough. Queens residents have the Olympic spirit and will be cheering hard for Jennifer and Tahl and all the members of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams when the Rio Games begin next summer.”
Leibovitz, who moved to the United States from Israel when he was 3, is one of the most decorated athletes in U.S. table tennis history and will be inducted into the USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame in December.
Leibovitz has osteochondroma, a condition characterized by noncancerous but often painful bone tumors. He had a troubled home life when he was a kid, and sometimes slept in the city subway system when he was homeless for a time during his teenage years, as he has documented in his book “Ping Pong for Fighters.” He has overcome these obstacles to obtain a Master’s degree in urban affairs from Queens College and a Master’s in clinical social work from New York University’s Silver School of Social Work. He will soon take the exam to be a Licensed Master Social Worker with the goal of working with underserved populations, including veterans, addicts and homeless people.
Leibovitz picked up a table tennis racket for the first time at the South Queens Boys and Girls Club (now known as the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Queens) on Atlantic Avenue in South Richmond Hill when he was 14 years old and considers the sport to be his salvation from a rough childhood.
Wu, 25, was born in Beijing, China and became a U.S. citizen this March after she fell in love with the country and moved here in 2008.
By Forum Staff