FORT WAYNE, Ind. - The Summit City did its part Saturday in helping find potential Olympic hopefuls in six different sports.
Thirty athletes from across the Midwest registered for the U.S. Olympic Committee scouting combine at Turnstone. The goal of the Next Olympic Hopeful program is to discover athletes who have excelled in one sport, and develop them into Team USA competitors in bobsled, skeleton, rugby, rowing, weightlifting and cycling.
“We have a tremendous wealth of athletic talent here in the United States,” Scott Riewald, USOC Senior Director of Sports Performance, tells ParkviewSportsMedicine.com. “For some of the sports targeted in this initiative, they don’t have a tremendous wealth of grassroots program to produce athletes that will go on and compete at senior level.”
Turnstone was designated a U.S. Paralympic Training Site last May, and Riewald says the Next Olympic Hopeful program is tapping into those sites to attract talent who live within a 2- to 3-hour radius. The program is now in its third year, and Fort Wayne is one of 15 cities nationwide hosting a USOC combine over the next month. A film crew was also at Turnstone, recording interviews for a future documentary on the process.
“The facilities here are amazing, and provide a great opportunity for athletes to come in, get tested in a great environment,” Riewald says.
After the on-site testing state, the 50 top-performing combine athletes nationwide will be invited to Team USA headquarters in Colorado Springs for more testing and evaluation.
“We’ve had athletes go from the town identification phase, being invited to Colorado Springs, getting seen by the coaches of some of our national team to actually going on and competing at nationals and world championships in a couple of years,” Riewald adds.