While we follow the Tokyo Olympics on NBC 5, a Junior Olympics competition is happening this weekend in North Texas that could produce some future Olympians.
Lewisville ISD's Westside Aquatics Center will play the main venue host for the USA Water Polo Junior Olympics as the third session heads to the metroplex.
This will be the world's largest water polo tournament and the next water polo Olympic star just might be in the water here.
"Every single player that's over in Tokyo played at this event at some point. Multiple times. This is our national championship each and every summer. Players will be playing here over Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are going to be hopefully representing us in 2024, 2028, and 2032. It is exciting,” said Joe Linehan, Texas development for USA Water Polo.
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This is the first time the water polo junior Olympics has ever come to the Lone Star State. It's normally held in California but pandemic restrictions brought the third session of it to North Texas.
Lewisville will be the main venue but there will also be matches in pools at Dallas Jesuit, Carroll ISD, Denton ISD and SMU.
At least 3,000 athletes 200 teams from around the country are expected to compete, ages ranging from under 10 years old to 18 years old.
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"It's one of the sports that takes a little bit of football, little bit of basketball, a little bit of soccer,” said Linehan. "It's a passion sport. You have to be fast, you have to be in shape, you have to have the endurance, you have to be the quickest, and have the power and strength. It puts all of those great ingredients into a team sport where you have to work hard."
Water polo is starting to become a big sport across Texas. It was recently approved as a UIL pilot program at high school level.
“It’s a smaller sport but we are growing. It’s getting bigger and bigger,” said Linehan.
And if North Texas does well as host this weekend, the whole Junior Olympics tournament could make Texas a new home in the coming years.
“We are very thankful for all of our hosts here. We just want to welcome the rest of the country to North Texas,” said Linehan.
The games are open to the public to watch. Click here for more information on tickets.
Team USA Olympic water polo men’s and women’s teams are in the midst of their competition in Tokyo. The women’s team experienced their first loss since 2008 in a match against Hungary on Wednesday. Shortly after that, the men's team suffered their first loss of the games to Italy.