Taking A Shot In Beijing


The weekly e-mail messages that Temple Shaaray Tefila on the Upper East Side sends to its members usually concern such congregational news as worship services and adult education classes.

This week, the news was about a member’s visit to Beijing — Sandy Fong finished 21st in the Summer Olympics 50-meter rifle shooting event.

Fong, 18, who returned home this week to begin her freshman year as a pre-med student at Princeton University, competed in the Games for the first time, six years after she began learning the sport.

“I’m satisfied” with a showing in the middle of the 41-woman field, she tells The Jewish Week in a telephone interview from Beijing.
Fong, a recent graduate of Hunter College High School, was introduced to shooting six years ago by her father, Dr. Yuman Fong, an émigré from Hong Kong who was a rifleman in high school. She qualified for the Olympics at the team trials in Ft. Benning, Ga., where her 20-year-old sister, Abby, also a championship shooter, narrowly missed making the U.S. team.

Fong was the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic shooting team. Competitors in her event fire a .22 caliber small-bore rifle 20 times each from standing, kneeling and prone positions.

A vice president of her temple youth group last year, a swimmer and track and field athlete in high school, Fong also made time to play trumpet in the school’s jazz band. She was accompanied to Beijing by her father, a surgeon at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Canter Center, and her mother, Nicole, an attorney and native of Great Neck, L.I.

They attended several Olympic events, and Fong frequented the kosher food area in the Athletes’ Village. Her best souvenir, she says, are her memories. “I’ve been a part of something great.”

Her favorite memory? “The opening ceremonies. Nothing prepares you for that emotional feeling.”

“We are so excited” about Fong’s success, says Rabbi Jonathan Stein, spiritual leader of Shaaray Tefila. “The daughters are top-notch kids. These are kids who are post-bat mitzvah engaged” in synagogue life.
The 2012 Summer Games in London are in Fong’s sights, she says; the Shaaray Tefila e-mail updates will keep the temple’s membership posted.

And in coming weeks they will carry news about Danielle Fong, Sandy’s 17-year-old sister, who has cerebral palsy and will participate in early September as a shooter in the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing.