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NCAA Wrestling All-American Jason Morris chosen head coach of 2008 U.S. Olympic judo team

(Harlingen, Texas) - USA Judo is pleased to announce Jason Morris (Scotia, N.Y.) has been chosen as the Head Olympic Coach for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team that will compete in Beijing, China.

Morris, a 1992 Olympic silver medalist and four-time Olympian, not only brings a wealth of experience as a past athlete, but he served on the coaching staff for the 2005 World Championships in Cairo, Egypt and both the 2005 and 2006 Pan American Championships in Caguas, Puerto Rico and Buenos Aires, Argentina, respectively.

"I'm honored to have a chance to be part of the Olympic movement again," Morris said. "During the past few years I've worked with most of the top players in the United States. They are all excellent athletes and I'm looking forward to helping them achieve their Olympic dreams in Beijing."

Morris was a NCAA Div. I All-American in wrestling competing for Syracuse Univ. and was a talented high school wrestler in New York.

Under Morris' guidance, Team USA won four gold medals at the 2005 Pan Ams and six medals at this year's event. The 2005 World Team also fared well, placing two athletes in the top ten.

"It is not every day and in every sport that you get to have Olympic medalist such as Jason Morris come back to the sport to become an Olympic Coach. Judo is indeed setting an example among Olympic sports in the United States by using the knowledge and experience that these athletes gained to further the sport success at the World level," said USA Judo CEO Jose H. Rodriguez (Colorado Springs, Colo.) "Jason will no doubt begin what we feel will be a turn around in our total sport success at the Olympic and World competitions."

The personal coach for three members of the 2006 Pan Am Team, Morris is the owner and head instructor of the Jason Morris Judo Center. In addition to producing top-level elite senior athletes, the JMJC trains many possible future Olympians with six of his athletes recently qualifying for the 14-member team that will compete at the Junior World Championships, Oct. 12-15 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Morris' selection for this position with just under two years remaining before Beijing is an unprecedented move for USA Judo and will afford Morris the opportunity to work with the athletes on a one-on-one basis and develop a plan for the best possible success in Beijing. In addition to being tapped to lead the Olympic Team, Morris also has been selected to head the 2007 World Championship and Pan American Games Teams.

"We have been working to put together a long range plan where we will use our coaching talent to best benefit our athletes. We want the athletes to know who will be their coaching staff years ahead of the Games," Rodriguez said. "In the naming of Jason Morris as our nominee to be the Pan American Games and Olympic Games Head Coach, USA Judo sends a clear message that we are taking a new path to success."

Morris will immediately begin work to actively communicate with all of our top coaches to ensure that USA Judo's nationally ranked athletes who may be part of our 2007 Pan American Games and 2008 Olympic Games Teams are benefiting from USA Judo support programs, including national and international training camps and scheduling.

"Jason will be at all key world competitions where our athletes are competing in order to ensure the recognition that the Head Coach position needs and deserves," Rodriguez said. "But, as it will soon be clear to our US Judo support base, our long range planning does not stop at 2008 as we are already looking ahead to what needs to be done to win medals at the 2012 London Olympic Games and beyond."

Morris was selected by USA Judo's Coaching Committee. His nomination as Head Coach has been forwarded to the U.S. Olympic Committee for final approval.

"I invite all of our members - athletes, coaches and parents alike - to join me in not only congratulating Jason Morris on his first Olympic Coaching assignment, but most importantly to reach out to him and offer him the support he will need to help our USA athletes perform at their highest potential at the Pan American and Olympic Games," said USA Judo President Dr. Ron Tripp (Norman, Okla.)
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