January 16 - Medellín's bid to host the 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games has received a significant boost following the appointment of Andres Botero Phiillipsbourne as Colombia's new Sports Minister.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos made the appointment last week and Botero Phiillipsbourne is due to return from here where he is currently attending the Winter Youth Olympic Games to the capital Bogota for the inauguration on Thursday (January 18).
The 66-year-old Botero Phiillipsbourne, formerly head of the Colombian Olympic Committee for 12 years, was chosen by Santos partly to help promote Medellín's bid, which, along with Buenos Aires, is one of only two cities to have officially confirmed to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that they are plan to bid for 2018.
"The important thing is that it has always been committed to the sport," said Santos.
Botero Phiillipsbourne, a Stanford University graduate whose mother was from Ruslip in north west London and who finished 13th in water skiing at the 1972 Munich Olympics when it was a demonstration sport, has been a member of the IOC since 2007 and lives in Medellín.
"When he appointed me the President told me it was because promoting our bid for the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics was so important," Botero Phiillipsbourne told insidethegames.
Medellín's bid for the 2018 Youth Olympics follows the successful hosting of the South American Games in 2010, an event attended by nearly 4,000 athletes from 15 countries.
The city, the second largest in Colombia behind Bogota, is located 1,500 metres above sea-level is hoping to capitalise on the current trend for major events being awarded to new territories, including the 2014 FIFA World Cup to Brazil and the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics to Rio de Janeiro.
"I keep telling people this is the decade of Latin America," said Botero Phiillipsbourne.
"After staging a very successful South American Games we are enthusiastic to bid for something bigger."
Medellín was once known as the most violent city in the world as a result of an urban war set off by the drug cartels at the end of the 1980s.
But it has now come to symbolise the startling upturn in Colombia's fortunes in recent years - it has even been dubbed "the Medellín Miracle" by The Washington Post - with the city having been transformed from a battlefield of drug lords, paramilitaries and leftist guerrillas into one of the safest, most dynamic cities in Latin America.
"People are investing in our country again and the world is trusting us again," said Botero Phiillipsbourne.
"It will take time to totally erase the old image but we are gaining momentum."
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