Aspiring Olympians encouraged to dream big

16 August 2013

Watch the Digital Press Conference here with Susie O'Neill at 10am AEST.


YOG: Olympic silver medallist and Youth Olympic Games gold medallist, Jessica Fox, is calling on aspiring young Australian athletes to ‘dream big’ to mark the one year to go milestone to the start of the second Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Nanjing, China.

“When I went to the YOG I didn’t expect to be competing in London two years later,” the 19-year-old said. “It took hard work fuelled by a big dream.”
The canoe/kayak sports star was one of 100 elite young Australian athletes who competed against the best from around the world in the first Youth Olympic Games in Singapore 2010.

“It was a very valuable experience because it's an event like no other for young athletes and an eye opener for what the Olympics could be like,” she said.
“When I arrived in London I felt I was able to settle in quickly and deal with the excitement of the village, transport, the long opening and closing ceremonies, security, drug testing and uniform fitting.”

Multiple Olympic medallist, Susie O’Neill, will lead the 2014 Australian Youth Olympic Team (AYOT) as Chef de Mission.

“I am excited to be part of the Olympics and the Australian Team again, especially at this junior, sub elite level,” the three-time Olympian said.

O’Neill will lead a team of approximately of 90 athletes to Nanjing next year, made up of 70 individual athletes and two sport teams.  The qualification period commenced in June this year and to date Australia has qualified 8 (maximum) spots in swimming and the women’s pair in rowing.

“It is great to see the IOC investing in the development of emerging athletes and providing them with a learning experience for the Olympic Games,” she said.
“The Olympics can be hard to do well in as there is so much stuff going on,” she said. “It always helps if you have been to a multi-country, multi-sporting event prior to Olympics. This would have helped me.”

Fox will flank O’Neill as the Young Ambassador to the 2014 AYOT.

“This is a really exciting opportunity for me,” she said. “Hopefully I can share my YOG experience with the team members and give them some guidance. I think it is easier to open up to someone who is closer to you in your age.

“I will also be encouraging them to participate in the Cultural and Education Program. There are some really exciting activities and it is a great way to meet other people and step outside your comfort zone.”

YOG athletes also at the London Olympic Games were pole vaulter Liz Parnov and boxer Damien Hooper who won a silver and gold medal respectively at the 2010 YOG. 

Other 2010 team members to wear the green and gold at international events include swimmers Emma McKeon and Kenneth To at the 2013 Swimming World Championships, Brandon Starc and Nick Hough at the 2013 Athletics World Championships, rower Olympia Aldersey and canoe/kayker Scott Smith at their respective U23 International events and equestrian athlete Thomas McDermott who last year won the prestigious FEI Rising Star of the Year award.

The YOG was first established at the International Olympic Committee session in Guatemala in July 2007 and is brainchild of IOC President Jacques Rogge. It is a multi-sport, cultural and educational event, inspiring young people around the world to participate in sport, lead active and healthy lives and adopt and live by the Olympic values.

More than 3,000 young athletes aged 15 – 18 years will descend on Nanjing, China in August 2014 to compete in 222 events across the 28 Olympic sports over 12 days.

The YOG is considered as an opportunity to trial new events for the Olympic Games.  There are variations to the sports program including basketball which is 3x3 and hockey which is 5 a side. There are also mixed gender events in swimming and mixed NOC events in sports such as triathlon, equestrian, athletics, table tennis and judo.

A mixed relay in swimming was held at the inaugural YOG in Singapore.  In July 2013, FINA agreed to incorporate mixed relays, featuring two men and two women at future World Championships. 

The YOG also provides an opportunity for young athletes to participate in cultural and educational exchanges, on the sporting field and inside the Village.
“There were fun activities in the Village which encouraged us to explore various cultures, learn some new words in different languages, try some interesting foods and the best part was to mingle with other international athletes!” Fox said.

The Olympic silver medallist, YOG gold medallist and multiple World Cup winner remembers 2010 fondly.

“There were so many fantastic moments at the YOG,” Fox said. “The excitement of being part of a big team and the pride in wearing the green and gold uniform and seeing the Olympic rings everywhere! Being a part of the Opening ceremony and competing in front of a big crowd (including the IOC president Jacques Rogge & sporting legend Sergei Bubka!!) was exciting as well as winning a gold medal!”

Learn more about Nanjing 2014 here>>>

Australian Olympic Youth Team

The One Year to Go media conference will be broadcast live at 10am AEST Friday 16 August on The media conference features Chef de Mission Susie O’Neill and AYOT hopefuls Nina Kennedy (athletics – pole vault) and Alanna Bowles (swimming).

The public can ask questions using Twitter with #ASPIREtoNanjing

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