Curler Lauren Rajala has been announced as the Canadian flagbearer for the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games.
The 17-year-old has already had significant national success, winning gold at the under-18 Canada Winter Games and the under-18 Nationals last year.
She will now try her luck on the international stage here at Lausanne 2020, with the added bonus of leading out a Canadian delegation of 78 athletes and 23 coaches during the Opening Ceremony at the Vaudoise Aréna on Thursday (January 9).
"I'm still feeling butterflies from getting the phone call about being the flagbearer for Team Canada in Lausanne," Rajala said.
"It's just such an immense honour to be given this opportunity, and I couldn't be more grateful.
"So many people have helped me in my journey, and I wouldn't be in this position without them.
"Seeing the Maple Leaf worn by our athletes on television is always a thrill, but to be able to do it myself at the Winter Youth Olympic Games goes beyond my wildest dreams.
"I'm excited to compete, I'm excited to meet my fellow members of Team Canada, and I'm excited to make memories that will last the rest of my life."
Just wanted to say a huge thank you to @CurlingCanada for the amazing opportunity to play in the 2020 youth Olympics! I am beyond grateful to be chosen. Also,thank you to my amazing family,teammates and coach I would not be here without you. Very excited to represent my country🇨🇦— Lauren Rajala (@lauren_raj) April 17, 2019
Rajala was selected as flagbearer by a Canadian Olympic Committee selection committee that included Team Canada's Lausanne 2020 Chef de Mission and Beijing 2008 Olympic swimmer Annamay Oldershaw.
"Lauren embodies what we as Canadians strive to represent when we are on the world stage," Oldershaw said.
"She is a wonderful team member, has had some great success in her curling career so far, she is a dedicated student, and volunteers both at her high school and home club.
"I am so pleased that she is going to lead our incredible team into the Games.
"I am most looking forward to connecting with all of these young athletes that I get to support while they work towards achieving their dreams and goals.
"The Youth Olympics is a unique world stage with a focus on not only competition, but also on culture and education.
"There are a few sports that mix nationalities together, giving the opportunity to compete alongside athletes from other countries.
"I think this is a fantastic display of the Olympic Movement and I encourage all Canadians to follow and support our young athletes!”
Around 1,880 athletes are expected to compete across eight sports at Lausanne 2020, with competition running until January 22.