The 2003 AYOF was launched through an exciting and unforgettable Opening Ceremony and provided the highest level of competition to young aspiring athletes in 14 summer Olympic sports, four more sports than were held in 2001.
The Festival featured some of the best young male and female athletes from Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Oceania, Singapore, South Africa and United States of America. Oceania was counted as one nation but it comprised two additonal countries.
The Festival included several elements of the Olympic Games model, including lighting of the Festival Cauldron, raising of the Olympic Flag, Athletes' and Officialss Oaths, Medal Ceremonies, Village Accommodation and the use of Olympians as medal presenters and team leaders.
The competitive sports program was complemented by Drug Education, Drug Testing, Athlete Education and Olympic Village type experiences.
The ‘Live Clean Play Clean’ Drug Education presentation was well received and the young athletes responded well to the Olympian role models who provided 'real life' athlete experiences relating to the challenging and complex issue of drugs in sport.
The Australian Sports Drug Agency (ASDA) supported the program with their participation in the presentations on the specific issues relating to drug testing.
The program was well supported by the presence of the World Anti Doing Agency (WADA) Awareness Program which was located at two of the major Village sites.
ASDA was contracted to implement the drug testing program for each sport on the AYOF program and to report results to the relevant NOC/NF contacts. ASDA completed 66 internationally recognised urine drug tests in total. All results were analysed and all tests recorded negative results.
27 athletes from the Festivals in 2001 and 2003 competed in the 2004 Athens Olympics and won a total of 8 medals for Australia including three gold, one silver and four bronze.
22 AYOF competitors from other nations also went on to represent their country at the Athens Games. Those athletes came from China, Canada, Japan and New Zealand.
“The entire Festival was of a high standard and enjoyed by all the athletes. From the competition I have not only gained much needed racing and media experience but many friendships, which I am very grateful for” - Rebecca Borgo, Cycling
“Just walking up the to the dais and hearing the National Anthem playing was an amazing experience, I kind of couldn’t believe it, all our training had paid off” - Alarna Targ, Canoe/Kayak Flatwater