On the heels of the creation of the new Youth Olympics which will debut in 2010, USA Judo is pleased to announce an improved system of domestic tournaments for athletes ages 19 and under that will ultimately be used as part of the selection system for athletes participating on national teams for events such as the Junior World Championships, Youth Olympics and Pan American Junior Championships.
"Our junior selection system must evolve to continue to improve our performances," said Jim Hrbek (San Antonio, Texas), USA Judo Chairman of Junior Athlete Performance. "We need to look to the future with a progressive mindset and to be prepared to shift to stay on the leading edge in the new and innovative atmosphere that will be part of the Youth Olympic movement."
One of the key components of the system, wherein athletes earn points at major tournaments toward rankings on junior elite national rosters, will be the creation of a new event - the USA Judo Youth and Scholastic National Championships.
This event, which will replace the USA Judo Middle School and High School National Championships, will be held March 29-30 in Chippewa Valley, Wis. Like the USA Judo National Junior Olympic Championships, the Youth and Scholastic Nationals will include age divisions for athletes between 5 and 19-years-old. The Collegiate National Championships also will be held during the same weekend.
Athletes can earn points toward junior elite national rankings in intermediate through IJF-Junior divisions. Although junior athletes competing in the Collegiate Nationals will not be eligible to earn junior points, they will be able to earn points in the IJF-Junior division which will be held on a separate day to encourage participation in both divisions for athletes who are age-eligible.
Medalists at the Youth and Scholastic National Championships will be eligible to earn 10 points for a gold medal, six for a silver medal and four points for a bronze medal finish.
The only other junior tournaments in the United States where athletes will be eligible to receive junior elite points will be the USA Judo National Junior Olympic Championships, Junior U.S. Open and the Ocean State International. The Youth and Scholastic National Championships, Junior Olympics and Junior U.S. Open will have a maximum point value of 10. The Ocean State International has a maximum point value of two. For a complete list of both domestic and international events in which juniors can receive elite points, visit http://www.usjudo.org/juniors_classification.asp.
In order to recognize and honor USA Judo's student athletes, awards will be given to the most outstanding senior high, middle and elementary school athletes. Recipients of the USA Judo Life Membership scholarship who are attending universities during the upcoming year also will be recognized for their scholastic success.
"With the announcement of the Youth Olympics, we now have a responsibility to model the qualifying process for this new and unique opportunity in the same manner as our senior athletes who are contending for the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing and London ," said USA Judo President Dr. Ron Tripp (Norman, Okla.) "The creation of a new major junior tournament will give our young athletes the opportunity to compete at a high level during the spring season."