This WEEKEND New Aussie Olympic Festival Great Experience For Young Stars

By Ernest Pund | Jan. 16, 2013, 1:01 p.m. (ET)

A new Olympic style junior event this weekend in Australia, including competition in judo among nearly 20 sports, is a fantastic opportunity for our young, up-and-coming stars to step on the mats beneath the hyper-bright lights of an international multi-sport competition.

It’s great for our athletes get a taste of the different environment and mindset of multi-sport games,” said Jim Hrbek, Chair of USA Judo’s Junior Athlete Performance Committee. The Australian Olympic Youth Festival will be held this weekend in Sydney.

This is a new event that should give our young athletes experience fighting top judoka from Asia, in particular. This event also will serve as a great “preview” for some of the athletes who could be competing at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, Hrbek said. “This can be invaluable for athletes preparing for all the additional pomp, circumstance and distractions beyond the challenges of trying to be the best.”

USA Judo has nine young athletes headed to the Australian Olympic Youth Festival, Jan. 18-19 in Sydney. The roster includes: William Noah Pineda-Abaya, 60 kg, Hawaii Tenri Judo, Honolulu, HI; Myles Stephens, 66 kg, Tidewater Judo Club, Virginia Beach, VA; Kyle Wright, 73 kg, St. Gallen, AE; Devin Sobay, 81 kg, Texoma Judo and Jujitsu, Wichita Falls, TX; Amber Pair, 48 kg, McCall Judo Club, Cascade, ID; Gabriela Rivera, 52 kg, Somerset Academy-Panther Judo Club, Pembroke Pines, FL; Nicole Stout, 57 kg, Sasaki Judo Club, Orlando, FL; Rachael Butler, 63 kg,Tri-Valley Judo, Pleasanton, CA; and Mackenzie Williams, 63+ kg, Becerra Judo & Jujitsu Club, El Lago, TX. Head Coach of the team is Dr. Greg Chow, Assistant Coach is Lou Moyerman.