Magic Johnson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Kerri Strugg --all are world-class athletes who also made their mark as young champions in the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympic Games. The Games return to Hampton Roads this summer from July 29-August 7. Of the nearly 15,000 athletes competing for top honors, more than 1,400 are from Virginia. Eight hundred ninety-seven athletes are from the Hampton Roads cities of: Carrollton, Chesapeake, Gloucester, Hampton, Ivor, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Williamsburg, Virginia Beach, and Yorktown.
The AAU Junior Olympic Games are slated for venues in Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. The events, 18 in all, range from team sports including jump rope, beach volleyball, wrestling and field hockey to individual competitions such as gymnastics, weightlifting, swimming, table tennis and track and field events. A complete schedule of events is available online at www.aaujrogames.org or at www.hamptonroadssport.org.
In partnership with the Hampton Roads Sports Commission, an affiliate of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, five regional cities combine efforts to host the AAU Junior Olympic Games and its more than 45,000 participants, including 15,000 athletes and their families and coaches, venturing here from across the United States and several other countries. Billed as one of the largest amateur multi-sport youth events in the country, it's also expected to deliver an economic impact of almost $50 million to the region. Held annually throughout the Unites States, Hampton Roads last hosted the games in 2006 and is one of five cities in a rotation to host the games through 2016. Other sites include Des Moines, IA; Detroit, MI; Houston, TX; and New Orleans, LA.
Virginia Beach resident, Dave Coulter, will assist in the track and field portion of the AAU Junior Olympic Games this year. Coulter is the 10th grade Health and PE teacher, as well as the cross country and girls track coach at Landstown High School. Coulter will serve as the Assistant to the Track and Field Meet Director. To get ready for the Games, he built a long jump runway, scoreboard, and award podiums. Coulter was also involved in the AAU Junior Olympic Games in Hampton Roads in 2001 and 2006. “Running is something I’ve been doing since I was 13 years old,” said Coulter. “I get personal satisfaction from watching kids compete in track and field.” Coulter has passed his love for running onto his 16-year-old son Brent Coulter, a 10th grader at Landstown High School. Brent will be competing in his first AAU Junior Olympic Games this year, running the 1,500m and 4x800m relay. Brent is on his school’s track team and is one of the top two-mile runners in his age group in Virginia.
Fourteen-year-old Emmanuel Fountain, of Norfolk, has been competing in Taekwondo since he was seven years old. Emmanuel has an impressive list of awards and is hoping to win at this summer’s AAU Junior Olympic Games. He is a 2010 USAT Junior National Team Member (Jr. Bantam), won Gold in the 2010 USAT Junior Olympics (Jr. Bantam), won Gold in the 2010 USAT York National Qualifier (Jr. Bantam), and placed second in the 2010 Junior World Team Trials (Jr. Fly). Emmanuel trains and helps teach children’s classes with Master Charles Park of Park's Taekwondo Academy in Norfolk. Park said, “We have a special bond. Emmanuel is a phenomenal athlete and our long-term goal is for him to be on the Olympic team in 2016.” Emmanuel likes being in shape and said, “Hopefully I can get a scholarship to college and eventually go to the Olympics and win gold.” His mother Monica says that Taekwondo has provided Emmanuel with discipline and he’s improved his grades.
Originally begun in 1967 with just 523 athletes and coaches, the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympic Games have blossomed to support nearly 15,000 athletes who compete regularly around the country and have representatives from all 50 states in the union. Under the direction of the Hampton Roads Sports Commission, the region first hosted the AAU Junior Olympic Games in 1998 and steps into the national spotlight for the fourth time in 2010 following 2001 and 2006 hosting duties. The AAU Junior Olympic Games are just one component of the Amateur Athletic Union, which collectively boasts more than a half million participants, 50,000 volunteers and 30,000 events per year.
Tickets for spectator viewing of all AAU Junior Olympic Games events are available at each competition site and registration areas so don't miss this summer's premier youth athletic showcase at venues across the region. Individual day tickets are offered for $12 per day and include admission to all events scheduled on the designated day of purchase. A 10-day wristband/passport will be offered for $40 and includes admissions to all events through the games. Children ages 6 and younger are admitted for free to all events. Tickets and wristband/passports may be purchased at the registration centers or any competition venue.
In February of 1999, the Hampton Roads Sports Commission was formed as a public/private partnership among the seven cities of the Hampton Roads Region: Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Hampton and Newport News, and the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. The Commission’s primary function is to attract major amateur athletic events to the area and to emphasize regional collaboration. The Hampton Roads Sports Commission is an affiliate of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.