New Jersey sent eight Olympic athletes to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia in a variety of sports including men’s track speed skating, men’s skeleton speed skating, women’s bobsled, men’s alpine skiing, women’s hockey, and men’s hockey. James van Riemsdyk of Middletown, New Jersey will compete on Team USA’s men’s hockey team.
Born on May 4, 1989 in Middletown New Jersey, Riemsdyk began to play hockey at a young age, and he is now a left winger for the Toronto Maple Leafs. At 6’3″ and 200 pounds, Riemsdyk was drafted in the first round of the 2007 NHL Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers. He was the second overall pick, and in 2012, he joined the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The 2014 Winter Olympics is certainly not Riemsdyk’s first experience on the international stage. He competed in and won a gold medal with the United States during the 2006 World Under 18 Championships. During the 2006-2007 season, he scored 33 goals and had 30 assists for the United States’ Under 18 National Team. Riemsdyk also competed for the United States at the 2007 World Junior Championships in Sweden. Following the World Junior Championships, Riemsdyk won the scoring title at the 2007 Under 18 Championships with five goals. During the 2008 World Junior Championships, Riemsdyk led the competition with five goals, and he was subsequently named to the World Junior Championships all star team. He returned to the World Junior Championships in 2009 in what would be his final international tournament to date, scoring six goals. Riemsdyk is no stranger to competing on the international level, having much success during the early years of his career, but the 2014 Winter Olympics will be his first Olympic appearance.
Bringing home the gold will not be an easy feat for Team USA in any sport, especially men’s hockey. Team USA won the silver medal during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, losing the gold medal to Canada, repeating the same results as the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The competition is tough in men’s Olympic hockey. With Russia expected to win the gold in men’s hockey as the host nation, Team USA has an uphill battle to climb, but it has the nation’s support.
It is not often that someone can say that an Olympic athlete is from their town, but there is definitely a sense of pride among Middletown residents, and everyone is showing their support and rooting for Riemsdyk and Team USA to bring home the gold.