Under the guidance of Olympic Champion Susie O’Neill, 89 Australian teenagers will travel to Nanjing, China to represent the green and gold at the second summer Youth Olympic Games (YOG).
“I hope they do their absolute best in the sporting arena. But I also want them to support each other, cheer one another on and be proud to wear the Australian tracksuit,” eight-time Olympic medallist O’Neill said.
“I hope the Team will have a positive experience in what will be their first contact with the Olympic movement.”
For many, this will be the first time they pack the golf clubs, rugby boots or archery bows for an international multisport competition. Australians will feature in 23 of the 28 sports on the YOG program including golf and rugby sevens- the two new sports on the Rio 2016 Olympic program.
Aged 14 to 18, the Aussies are competing in most of the medal winning sports from the London Olympics including athletics, canoe/kayak, hockey, rowing, sailing, swimming and triathlon as well as archery, badminton, beach volleyball, boxing, equestrian, fencing, gymnastics, judo, modern pentathlon, shooting, table tennis, tennis, wrestling and weightlifting.
“It means everything,” 15-year-old sailor Elyse Ainsworth said about her selection to the Team.
“It was something that I had set out a year in advance. Every time I think that I’m going to Nanjing to compete I get nervous and excited all at once. I believe this is going to be an important stepping stone in my sailing career.”
The majority of athletes are from New South Wales (33), followed by Queensland (26), Victoria (12), Western Australia (9), South Australia (7) and Tasmania and ACT with one apiece. You can search athletes by state here >
Among the Australian showstoppers are Junior World Championship medallists Satali Tevi-Fuimaonoand Caitlin Parker (boxing), IRB Sevens World Series representatives Brooke Anderson and Tiana Penitani, 2013 senior World Swimming Championships silver medallist Ami Matsuo and swim/AFL starKyle Chalmers.
Many of the youngsters are coached by Olympic medallists including the men’s hockey 5s side- coached by 2008 bronze medallist David Guest; 800m runner Alina Tape- coached by 1984 heptathlon gold medallist Glynis Nunn-Cearns; and kayaker Angus Thompson- coached by 1996 bronze medallist Myriam Fox.
Youngsters Max Esposito (modern pentathlon) and Daniel Clopatofsky (shooting) extend long family traditions in the Olympic movement. Clopatofsky’s grandfather, Antonio, represented Colombia at the 1964 Games in Tokyo and his dad, Mario, also competed in shooting at the Los Angeles Games in 1984.
Esposito’s dad, Daniel, is another 1984 Olympian in modern pentathlon. Daniel’s daughters have also represented Australia- Chloe in modern pentathlon at the London 2012 Games and Emily at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in shooting.
Rowing twins Twins Miller and Tyler Ferris are also in the Team to compete in the women’s pair.
With plenty of time left to prepare for the Games, O’Neill has some sage advice for her chargers:
“The next two months is all about each athlete doing the best they can every single session. It is about giving 110 per cent each day and not thinking too much about the Youth Olympics at this stage,” O’Neill said.
“Hopefully when the athletes arrive in Nanjing they will know they can look back and know they have prepared as well as they could have and can relax and enjoy the competition.”
Context and culture
This is the second summer edition of the International Olympic Committee’s brainchild which raised Australian kayaker Jess Fox, South African swimmer Chad le Clos and British diver Tom Daley, converting them into London Olympic medallists.
“For me the YOG was a great experience. It was my first really big international event and the whole YOG set up was fantastic,” said Fox, who will travel to Nanjing as Australia’s Young Ambassador.
“It really gives you a taste of what the big Olympics is like and for me I think it definitely helped me for London- I had an idea of what to expect and I wasn’t overwhelmed arriving in London. It’s definitely a great experience.”
Fox, one of six Australians to progress from the YOG to the Olympic stage, is tasked with encouraging the Australians to participate in the International Olympic Committee’s Culture and Education Program at the Games (CEP). This aims to teach athletes life-skills to enable them to grow up in their sporting career and promote a healthy lifestyle.
As part of the CEP, Australian Olympic medallists Emma Snowsill and Patrick Murphy will attend the YOG as Athlete Role Models in their respective sports of Triathlon and Swimming.
The second summer Youth Olympic Games, taking place in Nanjing, China, commence on Saturday 16th August and run for 12 days, concluding on Thursday 28 August 2014. 3,800 aspiring athletes from 204 nations will compete across the 28 sports of the Olympic program, vying to win one of 222 gold medals on offer.
Please follow the links below for more information.