In the footsteps of the 2000 Olympic Games the inaugural Sydney Youth Olympic Festival was held from 10-14 January 2001 comprising of participants competing in 10 summer sports.
The Festival provided a great opportunity for young athletes to participate and gauge themselves amongst international sporting peers in world class facilities.
For the athletes, the Olympic experience included living and eating together in a village style environment, travelling together and sharing cultural activities.
Medal ceremonies just like those in an Olympic Games added to the excitement of the Festival.
A hard working team of volunteers made the Games a reality. They were provided with orange shirts and a cap that helped spectators identify personnel for queries.
Sports and Ambassador Program
Several sports took the opportunity to embrace Development Programs during the Festival such as: Athletics – conducted education sessions at the village with topics such as transition from junior to senior levels, and the effects of menstrual cycle on performance. The ambassador program further enhanced the Olympic experience with Olympians working with their respective sports.
Basketball – Annie Burgess (Youth Festival Ambassador), Barry Barnes (former Men’s Olympic Basketball Coach), Bill Mildenhall (1992 and 2000 Olympics Referee) and Patrick Hunt (1992 Barcelona Assistant Coach) coordinated programs and talked about their journey to Olympic selection, their preparations and experiences.
Canoe/Kayak – National coaches were responsible for developing and delivering education sessions. A sprint session informed athletes about junior team selection policy and tours for 2001 and 2002. Slalom ran a couple of sessions in which Olympians from 2000 assisted in video evaluation of athlete performances during the day.
Hockey – The Development Manager of Hockey Australia conducted an umpires seminar at the village and ongoing umpire and technical officials training and assessment were performed throughout the event. An ITC seminar was also conducted by the National Women’s Coach with all State ITC coaches present.
ASDA conducted the Doping Program for the Festival that included several athletes from various sports being tested. A Drug Education Program was delivered to all athletes that ensured they were fully aware of the physical reasons for not taking performance enhancing drugs, the ethics, inadvertent doping and the drug testing process and procedures in submitting a sample.