N.J.'s Olympic champ inspires young swimmers

Not only is an Irvington native bringing home the Olympic gold, he?s inspiring young New Jersey swimmers as well.

Cullen Jones became the second African-American to win the Olympic gold for swimming Monday, giving young swimmers an idol to look up to.

Eight-year-old Angel Lopez says he looks up to Jones. ?When I get bigger, I want to be a person who wins the Olympics,? Lopez says. ?I?m not saying I will win, but I will try.?

Lopez, a Newark resident, practices at the John F. Kennedy Pool ? the same pool Jones practices at. Lopez is also coached by Elliott Bradley, the same coach Jones used to have.

Bradley has been teaching kids how to swim since 1974. He says he was extremely excited when Jones won the gold medal. ?I jumped off the couch and started screaming, yelling and going crazy,? he says.

Kids were also touched by Jones? victory in Beijing. ?Cullen inspired me to swim a lot and learn new things in the water,? 12-year-old swimmer Quadirah Nelson says.

Lopez is already shooting for the stars. He?s the youngest swimmer to jump off the high dive. ?Every time before I go swimming I think I might become a legend,? he says.

Jones says he hopes to put his victory to good use. He told his coaches he imagines swim meets and clinics for youth groups, something he?d like to call ?The Cullen Jones Diversity Tour.?

The Olympic games will end next week.

Irvington native lands Olympic gold in relayClick here to see how Cullen?s team is doing

For an interview with ?Coach Brad,? go to channel 612 on your iO digital cable box and select iO Extra.

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