Australia chooses swim legend as Chef de Mission for Nanjing 2014

Sunday, 18 November 2012
By Duncan Mackay

Susie ONeill Melbourne October 11 2012 2November 18 - Australia has appointed one of its greatest ever swimmers, Susie O'Neill, as its Chef de Mission for the 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing.  

The appointment of O'Neill, winner of eight Olympic medals, including gold in the 200 metres butterfly in Atlanta 1996 and 200m freestyle at Sydney 2000, was confirmed following a meeting of the Australian Olympic Committee's (AOC) Executive Committee in Melbourne. 

"I'm really excited to be a part of the Australian Olympic team again," said O'Neill, who is now 39.

"This is the first tip toe back into the water.

"I really look forward to being around elite sport again and I'll be doing my best to lead the 2014 Youth Olympic team."

The appointment marks O'Neill's second foray into the non-competitive side of the Olympic Movement after being elected to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athletes' Commission in 2000.

Following the birth of her two children, O'Neill resigned from the Commission in 2005 to spend more time with her young family.

"I really enjoyed being on the IOC Athletes' Commission and I always hoped when the kids were old enough I'd get to do be involved in the Olympic Movement again," she said.

O'Neill will take charge of a team expected to consisting of 100 athletes aged between 15 and 18 heading to China as Nanjing hosts the second Summer Youth Olympic Games between August 16 and 28.

Jessica Fox celebrates silver medal at London 2012 August 2 2012London 2012 Olympic silver medallist Jessica Fox represented Australia at the inaugural Summer Youth Olympics in 2010

The first edition in Singapore in 2010 launched the careers of three Australian Olympians, including canoeist Jessica Fox, who won a silver medal in the K-1 at London 2012. 

"The Youth Olympic Games is such a great opportunity for these young athletes to virtually see the whole Olympic process," O'Neill said.

"For me to be able to have a slight impact on their future careers is one of the reasons why I wanted to take on this role."

O'Neill is the second woman chosen as Chef de Mission of an Australian Youth Olympic team, following Alisa Camplin, who at the first Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck earlier this year.

"I spoke to Alisa about the role and I know how much she enjoyed Innsbruck and how great an experience it was for her and the entire Winter Youth Olympic team earlier this year," said O'Neill.

"Alisa did say there would be challenges, but I look forward to those challenges and I know that I will have a massive amount of support around me from the AOC.

"I really look forward to learning from the athletes too and helping them become senior Olympians."

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