The Next Best Thing To The Olympics ... Junior Olympics

Founded in 1888, the Amateur Athletic Union is one of the country's largest, nonprofit volunteer organizations dedicated to the promotion and development of amateur sports and physical fitness programs for all ages. The Jr. Olympics is the AAU's largest single competition, with 15,000 young athletes from around the country competing in 18 different sports.

Tim Trimble with the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, says Houston is hosting the Games for the first time.

"The Harris County-Houston Sports Authority put in a bid to host the Jr. Olympic Games, probably about 5 or 6 years ago. And after putting in that bid with a few other cities, we were selected, and that process has been from 5 or 6 years ago, just organizing that and getting this ready. And it is on a rotating basis between four cities, so we will be the 5th city on the rotation."

He says these games can open the door to the actual Olympics, like it did for Greg Louganis, Kerri Strug and Magic Johnson, just to name a few.

"For some of the better swimmers and divers and other athletes, it can be a stepping stone to eventually be in the real Olympics. It does not necessarily mean that for everybody, but many of the Olympic athletes nowadays, have participated in some part of AAU events."

poolIf you're not lucky enough to go to London for the actual Olympics, you too can see the next best thing at various locations, from the George R. Brown Convention Center downtown, Turner Stadium in Humble or the Pearland Natatorium. That's where the water events are taking place. Mary Noreland from Clear Lake, has a son and a daughter participating in these AAU Games:

"Well, they've been diving for four years, we have competition from as far as Wyoming and New Orleans, and one boy from Florida."

Hernandez: "How do your kids keep their focus when they're competing?"

Noreland: "They learn it over time. They're around the pool a lot and go to other competitions, so they're used to the noise around them, and being able to block it out. They just want to do the best that they can and be the best so, they don't complain about coming the practice, or anything like that."

Turner Stadium is the site for the track and field events this Saturday,as well as the closing ceremonies next Saturday, August 4th.

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