By Tom Degun

August 31 - Members of the Innsbruck 2012 Organising Committee were on hand at a welcome reception in Tyrol to celebrate both the success of athletes from the state at the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore as well as the 500 days to go milestone until start of the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games.

Tyrol’s capital city is set to welcome the Olympics for the third time - having hosted the Olympics in 1964 and 1976 - when the inaugural Youth Olympics commence on January 13, 2012.

Around 1,058 youngsters are set to participate in the Games while the Tyrolean athletes aiming to compete in their home state in 500 days time will have been inspired by the success of the competitors in Singapore from the area, including triathlete Luis Knabl, who won bronze in the single and gold in the team competition.

To salute their success and to celebrate 500 days to Innsbruck 2012, the welcome reception in Tyrol was attended by the chief executive of Innsbruck 2012 Peter Bayer, the Tyrolean Vice-Governor Hannes Gschwentner and Innsbruck’s vice Mayor Christoph Kaufmannas well as representatives of the Tyrolean sports associations and federations.

Bayer is looking forward to putting the lessons learned in Singapore into practice in Innsbruck.

Bayer said: "The team gained a lot of experience, which will be very important for us.

"As Organising Committee of the first ever Winter Youth Olympic Games we are listening very carefully to all kind of input, such as what the young athletes liked in Singapore, and those things they would change.

"Evenings like this, when we can talk together are extremely valuable."

For the Organising Committee the next important milestones in the operational planning phase are the school projects as well as the volunteer recruitment and the further development of a strong Youth Olympic Games community.

It is expected that 60 countries will compete in seven sports and 15 disciplines at Innsbruck 2012 while a fully fledged Culture and Education programme (CEP) will raise participants’ awareness of the Olympic values and inform them on important topics of today’s society like healthy lifestyles and the fight against doping.

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