Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Local kids get first taste of Olympic sports at youth clinics

By Joe Paisley Published: June 25, 2013

Sadie Hedemark's older brother should be concerned.

The 12-year-old was one of about 275 children taking part in the annual Olympic Day at the U.S. Olympic Training Center on Tuesday.

And like her peers, she learned a little about boxing, judo, sitting volleyball, weightlifting and wrestling.

The tips should come in handy since her older brother and she occasionally wrestle.

"He beats me most of the time but I win on occasion," she said.

That may change after she learned some basic takedowns during one of the five youth sports clinics sponsored by the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Colorado Springs parks and recreation department. The event is one of 715 around the nation June 21-30 to celebrate the Olympic movement.

Judo was also a popular clinic with kids getting to throw two national team members to the mat. In wrestling, some of the kids got to take down one of the instructors,

"It was pretty cool," said Riley Knapp, 12. "It was definitely fun to throw someone."

"I like pinning people," Jaliyah Gray, 9, said after the wrestling clinic.

"I was worried about hurting him," Sheridan Wayne, 12, said of throwing 2012 Paralympic 220-pound judo ilver medalist Myles Porter. "It was fun."

The athletes who led the clinics were happy to show off their sport.

"You work with 300 kids but if you get one into the sport, it's worth it," Porter said.

The program was one of the ways to get kids active at the city's community centers. The 3+-hour event opened with a speech and torch lighting by 2000 Olympic freestyle wrestling gold medalist Brandon Slay, a resident coach at the OTC.

"Like the speaker said, you don't have to come from a perfect home to succeed," said Brian Kates, director of the Meadows Park Community Center. "They can do anything they set their minds to and if we can help them realize that, that leads to all sorts of things."

It also helped kids realize what others can accomplish, even if they may not have all their advantages. The day's message and the sitting volleyball demonstration made an impression on Knapp.

"It is pretty amazing how people can do that," he said. "The (Paralympians) in the video were so good. It was like the wrestling guy (Slay) said, you have to put in a lot of hard work."

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