Two beloved daughters of Queens took their rightful place in the pantheon of iconic borough residents on Oct. 1, as Queens Borough President, Donovan Richards, Jr. presented the Key to Queens to Olympic gold medalists Dalilah Muhammad and Tina Charles at a joyous ceremony at Queens Borough Hall.
“Dalilah Muhammad and Tina Charles are more than just legendary athletes and Olympic champions,” Richards said. “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.
“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,” added Richards, who traces his roots to Jamaica.
The Queens Borough President also presented the Olympic duo with proclamations declaring Oct. 1, 2021 as both Dalilah Muhammad Day and Tina Charles Day in the Borough of Queens.
Muhammad and Charles received City Council proclamations from the ceremony’s co-sponsor, Council Member Adrienne Adams, in recognition of their achievements as well.
Notable attendees of the ceremony included students from Charles’ alma mater, Christ the King High School in Middle Village, and Bayside’s Benjamin Cardozo High School, which Muhammad attended, as well as 2021 Junior Olympians from the Metro Eagles youth track and field team.
A native of Rochdale Village and a childhood member of the New York Novas youth running club, Richards said Muhammad first earned Olympic glory in 2016 when she became the first American woman in history to win a gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles.
Richards said she would go on to break the 16-year-old world record time in that event at the 2019 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, before breaking her own world record at the 2019 World Championships later that year.
At the 2021 Olympics, Richards said Muhammad would again beat the world record time in the 400-meter hurdles in an effort that earned her a silver medal, finishing behind fellow American Sydney McLaughlin.
Muhammad won her second career gold medal later in the 2021 Games as part of Team USA’s victorious 4×400-meter relay team, alongside McLaughlin, Athing Mu and Allyson Felix, Richards said.
The 2021 Olympics were the third Summer Games in the illustrious career of Tina Charles, a native of East Elmhurst, the borough president said.
After winning gold as part of Team USA’s women’s basketball squad in the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics, he said Charles returned in 2021 to help lead the team to its seventh straight Olympic gold medal.
The WNBA’s reigning scoring champion and an eight-time All-Star, Charles is one of the most decorated professional basketball players of her generation, Richards said.
An All-American at Christ the King and a two-time NCAA champion at the University of Connecticut, he said Charles won the WNBA Rookie of the Year award in 2010 before winning WNBA MVP honors in 2012.
In 2018, she earned the Basketball Hall of Fame’s Human Spirit Award for her charity work off the court, Richards said.
He said Charles founded the 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.
“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,” said Council Member Adrienne Adams. “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.”
“We are the greatest City in the world because of our incredible people. And Dalilah Muhammad and East Elmhurst native Tina Charles are no exception, they did our Queens neighborhoods proud making the jump to Olympic gold medalists,” said Council Member Francisco Moya. “The Key to Queens is one way to honor their historic performances and thank them for serving as examples of leadership and perseverance to youth in NYC and all around the world.”
“Tina exemplifies everything that is right about sports. Christ the King High School is so proud of her and all the Olympians,” said Christ the King High School Principal, Joe Arbitello. “We wish Tina all the best going forward and appreciate her for being such a great role model for young women today.”