The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has today announced an impressive list of over 100 inspiring young people who will serve as Young Ambassadors for the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games (YOG).
The eclectic list features active athletes, including Olympians and YOG alumni, sports coaches, students and young professionals, all aged between 18 and 25 . Despite coming from all walks of life, the Young Ambassadors, who were nominated by their National Olympic Committees, have one thing in common - a desire to live by the Olympic values, and to inspire and empower young people to do the same.
Following the success of the programme during the first Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, in 2010, and first Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, in 2012, the number of Young Ambassadors has increased from 30 and 33 respectively to 105 in Nanjing. The programme demonstrates just one of the elements of the YOG which make them such a unique event, along with the Young Reporter and Athlete Role Model initiatives.
As well as promoting the YOG and the Olympic values in their countries, the role of the Young Ambassadors will be to help the athletes of their national teams get the most out of their YOG experience. They will encourage them to interact with people from different sports and backgrounds, to soak up new cultures and to take part in a unique programme of activities and workshops, featuring sessions on healthy eating, injury prevention, anti-doping, careers in sport and media training. The lessons learned will equip the athletes with the sports skills to perform to the best of their ability on the field of play, and the life skills to be true ambassadors of their sport off the field of play, inspiring young people in their communities to get active and embrace the values of Olympism.
Irish hockey player Leah Ewart represented her country at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games and is also studying biomedicine at university. Speaking about her nomination, the 20 year-old said: “To be part of an event like this is every young athlete’s dream, so I want to make sure the athletes in Nanjing realise not only the sporting opportunities of competing against other top athletes but also the educational and cultural experiences that will be available to them, so it’s an experience that they will keep with them for the rest of their lives.”
On his nomination, Mothusi Ramaabya, a 22 year-old sports volunteer and auditor from Botswana, said: "The Ambassadorial nomination gave me a new source of responsibility for my nation, and I had mixed emotions about the post. At first it was scary, because when I was informed that I would be representing over two million people in my country, I doubted I could do it. And then I realised that, as a mover and a shaker, it is now time to get out of my comfort zone and step up to the challenge.”
Speaking from a training camp in Turkey, Qatari handball player Hannah Al-Bader, 22, who is also studying sports management at university, said: “I feel very honoured to be given the chance to represent Qatar as a Young Ambassador, and I am looking forward to spreading the YOG DNA with our Qatari delegates and giving our youth a chance to learn about what the Youth Olympics are all about.”
The Young Ambassadors will gather in Nanjing from 25 to 28 March for a four-day seminar, when they will be fully briefed on their role, test out some of the workshops and activities that will be available to the athletes during Games times and experience Chinese culture.
The second edition of the Summer Youth Olympic Games will be held from 16 to 28 August in Nanjing, China. The sports programme will feature 28 sports, including golf and rugby sevens, which will make their debut on an Olympic programme before their inclusion in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The YOG also feature unique disciplines such as 3-on-3 basketball and 5-a-side hockey, as well as mixed gender and mixed NOC events.