By Emily Goddard

David Guest will mentor the likes of youth Olympian Nathanel Stewart as part of the new Champ Connect programme © than 60 Australian Olympians, including London 2012 canoe sprint champion David Smith, are to mentor their young compatriots competing at the Nanjing 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games.

The "Champ Connect" programme, launched by the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) today to coincide with Olympic Day, will see the likes of Smith, hockey bronze medallist David Guest, sprint canoe bronze medallist Lyndsie Fogarty and three-time Olympic medal winning swimmer Andrew Lauterstein working with some 90 athletes as they prepare for the Games in the Chinese city in August.

"It is wonderful to see so many Olympians wanting to be involved and support our future Olympians," said Chef de Mission Susie O'Neill, herself a two-time Olympic swimming champion.

"I think it is their way of showing they want to give something back as well as the importance of the Olympic Games.

"There was no formal programme when I was a young athlete.

"However swimmer Donna Proctor took me under her wing and showed me what to do.

"She made me feel more comfortable in a team environment, more relaxed and my goals more attainable.

"You don't know what the situation is going to be like, so to have a mentor who has been there and done that normalises what you are about to experience."

London 2012 K-4 1,000 metres gold medallist David Smith (second from front) is among the 60 Olympians mentoring Australia's athletes preparing to compete at Nanjing 2014 ©Getty ImagesLondon 2012 K-4 1,000 metres gold medallist David Smith (second from front) is among the 60 Olympians mentoring Australia's athletes preparing to compete at Nanjing 2014 ©Getty Images

As well as benefiting the youth athletes, the peer support programme also allows the Olympians to give something back to their sports - something that was important to Beijing 2008 medallist and coach Guest, who will look after competitors such as Nathanael Stewart on the hockey squad.

"I signed up to help these young athletes with the transition from national age group to international athletes," he said.

"To set them on right track in the preparation for an Olympic Games so that they will feel more comfortable going into those environments.

"Being a coach, we are imparting our wisdom and teaching kids about how to play sport, but this is not only on field but off the field as well.

"I'd like to help them know what they can expect and how to act when representing Australia at the highest level."

The Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games are due to take place between August 16 and 28.

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