Stellar line up ready to mentor7 December 2008
The Australian Olympic Committee has coordinated a stellar group of Olympians to mentor young athletes competing at the 2009 Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF).
Twenty-four outstanding Olympians have been selected as Ambassadors at the Festival, staged in Sydney from January 14 - 18.
Between them, they share eight gold medals, four silver and six bronze as well as experience at the Olympic Games from Atlanta 1996 to Beijing 2008.
Olympic gold medallists Anna Meares and Ken Wallace will travel interstate to play their part in supporting the development of youth and sport in Australia.
“I am looking forward to the task and going back to experience another Youth Festival,” Meares, who competed at the 2001 AYOF, said. “It’s always fun working with younger athletes.”
The Ambassador’s will act as role models for athletes across all sports. They will provide encouragement and inspire athletes with stories of their own Olympic experience.
“I will be going around, talking with the kids and sharing my experiences from the Games,” Meares said. “You can’t ask me which experience, as there are so many. Basically I will be telling them to have fun, enjoy yourself and remember what you are doing there.”
Wallace, on the other hand, will draw from one of his experiences in Beijing.
“For me one of the most important things I learned at the Games was being open to change,” Wallace said. “You can only plan to a certain point. Sometimes things don’t go to plan, but it is not the end of the world. You have to learn how to deal with it and get on it – focus on the good, not bad.”
Wallace, who won a gold and bronze medal in canoe/kayak at the 2008 Games, recalls the importance of having role models when starting out in a sport.
“When I was growing up, I used to watch the older, professional athletes around me,” he said. “You would learn things like how they got on the water, what they wore and how they stayed out of the sun before competition. Now I am the older one, so I suppose they will be looking at me.”
The AYOF has produced some outstanding role models, including Emma Snowsill, Eamon Sullivan, Jared Tallent, Matthew Mitcham and Sally McLellan. A staggering 76 athletes from the 2008 Olympic Team are AYOF alumni.