Hampton, Va. Competes to Pin U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling, Weightlifting

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Hampton, Va. is one of the seven cities that have submitted a bid to host the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling and Weightlifting. The target date for the event is the weekend of April 20-21, 2012.

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For 31 years, Hampton has hosted the highly-respected Virginia Duals tournament. It is most fitting that the U.S. Olympic Team hopefuls spar in the arena where so many wrestlers have discovered their passion for the sport.

Hampton, Va. is one of the seven cities that have submitted a bid to host the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling and Weightlifting. The target date for the event is the weekend of April 20-21, 2012.

The Hampton bid has been submitted by the Hampton Convention & Visitors Bureau. The proposed venue for the competition is the Hampton Coliseum.

“When athletes and coaches hear the name Hampton, Va., they think wrestling,” said said Kris Smith, leader of the Hampton, Va. local organizing committee bid. “For 31 years, Hampton has hosted the highly-respected Virginia Duals tournament. It is most fitting that the U.S. Olympic Team hopefuls spar in the arena where so many wrestlers have discovered their passion for the sport.”

The competition venue at the Hampton Coliseum seats nearly 10,000 spectators for wrestling and is located on a scenic waterfront campus. The venue has more than enough room on the main arena floor for the required raised wrestling mats and weightlifting platforms. The site is shared by the Hampton Roads Convention Center and the 295-suite Embassy Suites Hotel, both of which will be available for other needs of the competition. For more information, visit http://www.hampton.gov/coliseum/default.aspx

With a combined 30 years of experience in successful athletic event execution, members of Sports Hampton, the athletic marketing division of the Hampton Convention & Visitor Bureau, lead the Hampton bid. Kris Smith has presented the bid on behalf of the destination. As group sales manager, Smith works lock step with Group Services Manager Corey Peterson. Craig Lenniger, sports events logistics coordinator and producer of the Sports Hampton Festival held each January, rounds out the team. The efforts of Sports Hampton are supported by Mary Fugere, director of media and community relations, and Sallie Grant-DiVenuti, executive director. For more information visit http://www.hamptoncvb.com/go/visitors

For 31 years, Hampton has hosted the Virginia Duals Invitational, considered the nation’s oldest and most respected dual meet wrestling championships each January. The Virginia Duals has grown to host 24 college teams annually, 48 high schools, four middle school all-star teams, with high-quality competition in five different divisions. The event organizers also founded the National Team Championship, which has developed into the NWCA National Duals competition. A majority of the top college teams in the United States have competed at the Virginia Duals during the last three decades. This event is hosted annually in the Hampton Coliseum. Nearly 1,000 volunteers help each year to host the Virginia Duals.

The city of Hampton has also hosted a number of other national level wrestling events as well. The AAU Wrestling Grand National Championships were held in the Hampton Coliseum. The National Collegiate Wrestling Association National Championships were hosted at the HU Convocation Center at Hampton University. A number of other successful wrestling events presented by the Virginia Challenge, a local non-profit organization, have been held at the Boo Williams Sportsplex in Hampton.

In addition, the Hampton area has been home to many high-caliber weightlifting championships. Nearby Williamsburg was the site of the 1973 National Weightlifting Championships while Hampton hosted the 1980 Junior Nationals. Other past events in Hampton have included the Junior Olympics and North American Championships. Hampton also has been the site of the state’s annual weightlifting championships since 1946.

The Hampton Coliseum has served as the venue for numerous major events in other sports. These have included the AAU Junior Olympic Games (1998, 2001, 2006), the 1992 USA Tae Kwon Do Championships; the USA Boxing Mid-Atlantic Championship; the Virginia High School Coaches Association All-Star Games, the NIKE Boo Williams Invitational, the CIAA Basketball Championship and Arena Racing.

Other major events held in Hampton have included the 2006 USA Field Hockey National Indoor Tournament, the 2006 National Veterans Golden Age Games, the 2005 U.S. National Trampoline and Tumbling Championship, the 2008 & 2010 North American Kick Boxing Championships, the AAU Boys & Girls Basketball National Championships, the Hampton Cup Regatta (in its 85th year), the Virginia High School League State Indoor Championships, the USA Track & Field State Championships, USA Volleyball Regional Championship, USA Gymnastics State and Regional Championships, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Championships and many others.

Hampton is home of the Peninsula Wrestling Association (PWA), which was founded in 1978 by wrestling leaders Jim Casey, John Graham and Pat McCormick. These founding PWA members are integral members of Hampton’s local organizing committee for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. The association’s mission is to provide regional wrestlers with the opportunity to train and compete at national levels. The PWA founded the Virginia Duals Invitational, as well as many other wrestling activities in the region.

The PWA has featured a number of prominent coaches working with young athletes in the community, including Kevin Darkus, Keith Mourlam and Sean Gray.

Old Dominion University, in nearby Norfolk, Va., sponsors a Div. I wrestling program which competes in the Colonial Athletic Association. Currently coached by Steve Martin, ODU has produced a number of Div. I All-American athletes and has received national rankings as a team.

In addition to Old Dominion, the state of Virginia boasts five other Div. I wrestling teams at George Mason University, Liberty University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Military Institute and Virginia Tech University. There is a Div. III varsity wrestling team at Washington and Lee University.

The Apprentice School, located in nearby Newport News, Va., has a top varsity wrestling program that competes in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association and was NCWA national champions in 2009.

The Virginia Amateur Wrestling Association is the USA Wrestling state association, with 2,681 athletes, 380 coaches and 75 clubs in the 2009-10 membership year. The organization is led by state chair Roy Hill of Alexandria. For more information, visit http://www.virginiawrestling.com/

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, Virginia had 7,459 boys high school wrestlers from 260 high school teams in 2009-10. The NFHS statistics also included 112 girl high school wrestlers from 49 programs.

“We are equally looking forward to the opportunity to host the USA Weightlifting community and to work with Bob Crist, Paul Donelson and John Sauer on the Hampton L.O.C.,” said Kris Smith.

The Trials bid is supported by the Virginia Local Weightlifting Committee which is led by President Bob Crist. The former chairman of AAU Weightlifting from 1971-1976, Crist also is the founder of the Lower Penninsula Weightlifting Club, one of the premier weightlifting clubs in the area. Crist’s pioneering efforts laid the foundation for USA Weightlifting’s current Mid-Atlantic corps of 1,000 athletes. Crist will apply a wealth of knowledge that will be essential to hosting the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Weightlifting. Hampton most recently hosted the 2008 AAU World Powerlifting Championships, the International Push/Pull & Single Lift Championships, and the Military Nationals.

Hampton Roads, also known as the Coastal Virginia region, is home to every branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. The military traditionally supports and participates in wrestling and weightlifting events held in the region.

The Hampton metropolitan area includes a population of 1.7 million people. There are 10 hotels within a three-mile radius of the Hampton Coliseum which would be available for those attending the event. While cities Hampton and Newport News have 5000 available rooms, there are nearly 30,000 hotel rooms in the surrounding metropolitan area. The city is served by the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport which is 11 miles from the venue and the Norfolk International Airport, which is 18 miles from the venue.

Hampton and its neighbor cities offer abundant entertainment such as Busch Gardens Europe, Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown Settlement, The Mariners’ Museum, Virginia Air & Space Center, moat-encircled Fort Monroe, Harbor Cruises of Hampton Roads, the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, the world’s largest naval base (available for tour) and much more. There is world-class entertainment in Southeastern Virginia at two outdoor amphitheatres and a variety of indoor venues. Hampton features NASCAR short track racing at Langley Speedway, outdoor street fests and market places, and its own Chesapeake Bay beach. Hampton celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2010 and is abundant in history, especially with African American heritage and Civil War sites.

The group of seven bid cities will be reduced to between three and four finalist bids, with an announcement from USA Wrestling and USA Weightlifting expected on Dec. 20. Hampton is competing against Columbus, OH; Council Bluffs, IA; Greensboro, NC; Iowa City, IA; Oklahoma City, OK; and Pontiac, MI.

The organizing committees selected as finalists will be invited to make an in-person presentation on behalf of their bid during the week of Jan. 10-14, 2011. A committee will review the finalist bid presentations. An announcement on the bid selected to host the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling and Weightlifting is targeted for Jan. 17, 2011.

Each bid proposal includes hosting both the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling and Weightlifting. The wrestling event will feature competition in the three Olympic styles of the sport – men’s freestyle, Greco-Roman and women’s freestyle. The weightlifting event will include both men’s and women’s weight divisions.

The competition will determine the U.S. athletes in both sports who will qualify to represent the United States at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England.

Partially bordered by the Hampton Roads harbor and Chesapeake Bay, Hampton, with the 344,000 sq. ft. Hampton Roads Convention Center, is located in the center of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area. Hampton is the site of America's first continuous English-speaking settlement and is home to such visitor attractions as the Virginia Air & Space Center and Riverside IMAX ® Theater, Hampton Maritime Center, Hampton History Museum, harbor tours and cruises, Hampton University Museum, Fort Monroe, award-winning Hampton Coliseum, The American Theatre, among others.

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