WALNUT, Calif. - Two all-time great athletes and a current American star are in Walnut, Calif., to support the 2007 USATF Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships, currently under way.
Thanks to a grant from the USA Track & Field Foundation, National Track & Field Hall of Famer Kevin Young, the world record holder in the men's 400-meter hurdles, is taking part in "Be A Champion" youth outreach program tonight during the opening ceremonies for the meet. Also on hand in Walnut are 800m American record holder Johnny Gray and two-time Team USA 100-meter hurdler Jenny Adams.
The trio are in Walnut to help support the Junior Olympics and are participating in opening and closing ceremonies, autograph signing sessions, medal presentations and other activities aimed at connecting young athletes with their heroes.
"It is so important for the 'heroes' of our sport to give back," said Young, the 1992 Olympic gold medalist in the 400 hurdles. "Track opened the door to so many opportunities for me, and I want to share my experiences and be a positive influence to the athletes at Junior Olympics through the Be A Champion program."
"Having world-class athletes here to support the program and the kids adds so much to the athletes' experience," said USATF Youth Chair Lionel Leach. "Many of our top professional athletes got their start in the Junior Olympics, so to have these role models interacting with our stars of the future sets a great example."
With more than 6,000 athletes competing this weekend alone, the USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships is the largest and most visible youth athlete developmental program in the world. Many of today's Olympic stars got their start by competing in the USATF Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships.
The Championships are a national competition with entry based upon qualifying standards for each event. The Junior Olympics feature the following age divisions: Bantam (10 and under), Midget (11-12), Youth (13-14), Intermediate (15-16) and Young Men/Women (17-18). Entry for this championship is based on athlete performances at preliminary, Association, and Regional levels of the 2007 USATF Junior Olympic Program.
The meet began Tuesday and continues through Sunday. For more information, visit www.usatf.org
Don't miss live webcast
Running events from the 2007 USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships are being webcast live at www.usatf.org at no charge. Fans can simply visit the USATF Web site for exclusive coverage of the meet, held on the campus of Mt. San Antonio College. Coverage is available live and also on-demand.