COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Today, the United States Olympic Committee announces the launch of the 2007 U.S. Junior Olympic Skills Competition which introduces America's youth to the excitement, benefits and healthy lifestyle that sport participation offers. The official youth skills competition of the U.S. Olympic Team focuses on four sports - basketball, soccer, tennis and track & field - and in 2007 is introducing a new Olympic sport aptitude test called the U.S. Olympic 5-Ring Challenge, all of which can be found at the official web site of the U.S. Junior Olympic Skills Competition.

Information found online includes:

•   U.S. Junior Olympic Skills Competition information
•   Participant information
      o   Event zip code locator (participants can find a local qualifying event in their area)
      o   Registration information (participants need to register with their local host)
•    Local host information
      o   Directions on how to register online to host an event
      o   Event operating and administrative handbook
•    2006 U.S. Junior Olympic Skills National Finals video footage and winners list
•    U.S. Olympic 5-Ring Challenge sport aptitude test
      o   Exercises and drills
      o   National leader board (per age group)

With the support of returning event sponsors Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes®, the United States Tennis Association and Band-Aid® Brand, the United States Olympic Committee will expand its reach beyond the 2006 program in which there were 1.5 million participants and 5,700 local qualifying events. The U.S. Junior Olympic Skills Competition is free and is hosted by multiple community groups across the United States, including local city parks and recreation departments, police athletic leagues, Boys and Girls Clubs, schools and YMCAs. 

“With the participation levels this program witnessed in 2006, it is evident that kids across America are hungry for programs that involve exercise, sports and making friends,” said United States Olympic Committee Chief Executive Officer Jim Scherr.  “The U.S. Junior Olympic Skills Competition is providing communities with programs that allow children to showcase their athletic skills while building character, self-confidence, childhood memories and even possibly future Olympic heroes.”   

To expand the program so that kids remain active year-round and to encourage youth to compete in athletics, the United States Olympic Committee created the U.S. Olympic 5-Ring Challenge.  This Olympic sport aptitude test gives participants the opportunity to evaluate their skill level and determine which Olympic sports may best be suited for them.  The Olympic 5-Ring Challenge will be introduced at the more than 7,000 local Junior Olympic Skills qualifying events that will take place in communities across the country. 

This Olympic sport evaluation assesses a child’s level in five areas of athleticism: power, agility, flexibility, speed and strength.  Exercises are basic drills that require minimal set-up and can be performed at home.  Additionally, kids can track their progress online as they practice and repeat the exercises in an effort to improve their results.  Kids can also compare their results online to other participants in the same age group. 

Junior Olympic Skills Program Overview:
Program sport competitions will involve testing youth in a variety of skills such as 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) and track & field (perform two fundamental events, the 50-meter sprint and standing long jump).

Advancement
Participants may advance through three levels of competition, including local, regional and the National Finals in Colorado Springs, Colo.  Boys and girls ages 8 to 13 are eligible for participation and will compete separately in three different age groups: 8-9, 10-11 and 12-13, with participant eligibility determined as of Aug. 31, 2007.

Each host organization can conduct one, two, three or all four of the exciting athletic competitions within the structured timeframe.  Youth may participate in any or all of the athletic sports, but may only participate in one local qualifying event per sport.  The local qualifying events will take place January through May with the regional competitions between June and mid-July. The National Finals will be held in August at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

For further information on the U.S. Junior Olympic Skills Competition, including information on how to become a community host organization, please visit the Junior Olympic Skills website or e-mail joskills@usoc.org.