COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) crowned 24 champions today at the third annual National Finals of the U.S. Jr. Olympic Skills competition, the official youth skills competition of the USOC, held in the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games Candidate City of Chicago.
Gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to the athletes, ages 8-13, in a Medal Ceremony similar to those conducted at an Olympic and Paralympic Games. U.S. Olympic wrestler Patricia Miranda (Colorado Springs, Colo.), a bronze medalist from the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, presented the medals to athletes as they stood on a podium.
A total of 72 finalists representing 32 states competed for medals in basketball, soccer, tennis and track & field skills competitions. In each of the three age groups a male and female national champion was awarded before a crowd of more than 150 spectators gathered at the University of Illinois - Chicago campus.
The competitions included:
- Basketball: score as many points as possible by making baskets from designated shooting areas
- Soccer: dribble and shoot accurately in the fastest time possible
- Tennis: serve a low-compression tennis ball and continue to hit the ball against a wall and above the net as many times as possible in a 30-second time period
- Track & Field: perform two fundamental events, the sprint (50-meter in the fastest time possible) and a standing long jump
The event was MC'd by two-time Olympic weightlifter Wes Barnett (St. Joseph, Mo.), while Maritza Correia (Valrico, Fla.), a two-time world champion, 11-time NCAA champion, 2004 Olympian and the first African-American woman to capture an Olympic swimming medal, served as athlete ambassador for the event.
Other Olympians attended the Opening Ceremony at the historic Soldier Field, home to the NFL's Chicago Bears, including James Brewer (Basketball/Maywood, Ill.), Tony Brooks (Rowing/Chicago, Ill.), Chris Coleman (Bobsled/Vestal, N.Y.), Gary Morgan (Track & Field/Pontiac, Mich.) and Willie May (Track & Field/Evanston, Ill.).
A complete list of results from the National Finals of the U.S. Jr. Olympic Skills competition is attached.
The athletes competing in Chicago qualified by winning their age and gender category at one of 150 regional events, stemming from 7,500 local qualifying events across the country. They represent the event's top 72 young athletes across the country out of more than 1.7 million competitors.
Now in its third year, the U.S. Jr. Olympic Skills competition, with the help of sponsors Nike, AT&T, World Sport Chicago, Kellogg's Frosted Flakes ®, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and McDonald's, introduces America's youth to the excitement of a multi-sport competition, encouraging participation in Olympic sport, emphasizing fair and friendly play, and promoting an active lifestyle.
McDonald's, along with Miranda, also announced today the selection of five children to represent the U.S. as McDonald's Champion Kids. Kamaile Aluli (Hauula, Hawaii) and Abigail Muesse (Winder, Ga.) will travel to Beijing to experience the 2008 Olympic Games, joining 200 other McDonald's Champion Kids from around the world. Chisu Edwards (Morristown, N.J.), Cameron Loftis (San Jose, Calif.) and Emily McGuire (Broken Arrow, Okla.) will be treated to an exclusive tour of the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Aluli, Muesse, Edwards, Loftis and McGuire were selected to be McDonald's Champion Kids through their involvement in the Junior Olympic Skills Competition and submission of a 100 to 200 word essay on what makes someone a champion. Essays were reviewed by a judging panel of McDonald's executives and were judged based on creativity, composition and overall theme.
The McDonald's Champion Kids program was created as part of the company's commitment to children's well-being. In addition to engaging young people in activities that encourage sport, fitness and fun, the program provides children with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that celebrates their accomplishments both on and off the court.
Organizations interested in hosting the 2009 Jr. Olympic Skills program should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Provide your organization, contact name, phone number, fax number, e-mail address and the sport of interest (basketball, soccer, tennis and/or track & field).
For more information on the Jr. Olympic Skills program, please visit www.jrolympicskills.com.