Olympics to inspire local youth to take on new sports

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The London Olympic opening ceremony is Friday, but already some play is underway with the United States Women's Soccer team defeating France 4-2 Wednesday afternoon. These Olympic performances come only every four years, but can inspire even the youngest of athletes.

For 17 days, a new group of athletes will be performing for the world, which means there are bound to be some fresh faces inspired to take on a new sport.

Every four years, you could argue television is great for keeping kids active. For local youth sports, the summer Olympics bring in a new wave of interest and light a new competitive fire.

"We’re expecting a lot of new future potential gymnasts coming into our program and trying it out," owner and director of Kidzplex gym Brian Bensley said. "Most of our team kids started because they saw the Olympics or something on TV and they wanted to try gymnastics."

"I’ll bet we'll be up 100 or 200 kids who just decide to try soccer because they saw it in the Olympics," executive director of Fire FC Soccer Club Shaun Howe said.

For 17 days, sports like gymnastics, soccer and swimming will take the world's stage, and the exposure is unparalleled here in the valley.

"We watched the Olympic Trials together. She's very excited for the Olympics to come on later this week," Mark Mascarenas said of his gymnast daughter.

While the Olympics inspire some to take up a sport, collegiate gymnast Cammi Muhr's mom made the choice for her.

"My mom was kind of the one who was like, 'Let's put her in gymnastics.' Because I used to tumble around the house," she said.

But growing up, Olympic athletes have provided her, as well as other athletes, role models. They’ve also encouraged young athletes to set goals and discover their potential.

"She says, 'I want to be in the Olympics.' She has those dreams," Mascarenas said of his daughter.

"They’re so graceful and they know that in order to look that good, they have to work so hard," Muhr said.

For these new athletes, maybe the potential was always there, it was just a matter of seeing it.

"After each Olympics we have a new influx of students and we start to create our new teams for each level," Bensley said.

Young girls may also find some encouragement this round of Olympics. This is the first year where the U.S. will have more female athletes than male. It's also the first time that all participating nations will have a female competing.

If your child was inspired by today's soccer match, youth registration for soccer is going on right now. You can go to http://www.gjsoccer.org/ for more information.

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