Past champions consulted by IOC President over future aims of Youth Olympics

Monday, 10 March 2014
By Nick Butler

There is a growing focus on developing youth sport from the IOC ahead of the Youth Olympics in Nanjing this summer ©ChinaFotoPress/Getty ImagesMarch 10 - Olympic gold medallists Chad le Clos and Kim Yuna were among the ambassadors consulted by International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach in a bid to make the Youth Olympic Games "by young people for young people".

With a focus on youth sport a major aspect of the IOC's Agenda 2020 and with the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing this summer drawing ever closer, Bach is seeking to learn athletes experiences of competing at the event, as well as their ideas on how they can be used to inspire others. 

He claimed one of the objectives is to equip young athletes with the knowledge and skills to be ambassadors in their own communities, and sees this input as "vital to the future".  

As well as London 2012 200 metres butterfly swimming gold medallist Le Clos and figure skater Kim, who followed Vancouver 2010 gold with Sochi 2014 silver last month, three athletes who competed at both Innsbruck 2012 and Sochi 2014 were also present.

These were Adam Lamhamedi of Morocco, the first African skier to win a Winter Olympic medal at Innsbruck 2012 and the flag bearer for his nation in Sochi, Australian Alpine skier Greta Small and British freestyle skier Katie Summerhayes.

IOC President Thomas Bach meeting with the youth ambassadors in Sochi last month ©IOC/Ian JonesIOC President Thomas Bach meeting with the youth ambassadors in Sochi last month ©IOC/Ian Jones



When considering the benefits of participation South Korean Kim, a Youth Olympic ambassador in Innsbruck, claimed the Games were "a good opportunity for young athletes to pursue their future careers, but as everyone is around the same age, there is also a lot of fun to be had there."

She added: "It is also is a good way of inspiring other young people to get into sport and try out something new."

Similar sentiments were put forward by the other athletes present, including South African Le Clos, who before becoming an ambassador won five medals at the inaugural Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010.

He claimed competing there was an "incredible experience" which had a huge influence on his development as an athlete, before explaining that the Games can involve young people in the host city and nation.

"The Youth Olympic Games were a huge stepping stone for me and helped me enormously in preparing for the pressures of my first Olympic Games in London," he said.

"But more than the sport, the memories and friends that I made will last forever.

"Not only can the local youth get an insight into our sports but we can create bonds with the general public.

"People competing can get to know the local people and cultures."

The athletes also supported the addition of demonstration events in the new sports of skateboarding, sport climbing and roller skating to the Nanjing programme, as announced by Bach last December, with Lamhamedi claiming "it's fun for the athletes to be able to try different sports outside their own competition, to experience something new".

Skateboarding is one youth oriented sport that will be showcased at Nanjing 2014 ©Getty ImagesSkateboarding is one youth oriented sport that will be showcased at Nanjing 2014
©Getty Images



However at the same time it was also stressed that high-level competition should remain the heart of the Youth Olympic programme.

"We don't want to make it too much a festival environment as the Games still have to be serious," said Le Clos.

"We need that Olympic spirit - have some fun elements, but we want to get to the business end of competition as well."

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