Olympians mentor youth athletes
23 June 2014
AOC: The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has launched a peer support program called ‘Champ Connect’, for aspiring athletes wearing the green and gold at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games taking place in Nanjing, China in August.
More than 60 Olympians, including Olympic medallists David Smith (Canoe/Kayak), David Guest (Hockey), Lyndsie Fogarty (Canoe/Kayak) and Andrew Lauterstein (Swimming) have signed up to the program.
“It is wonderful to see so many Olympians wanting to be involved and support our future Olympians,” Chef de Mission and Olympic medallist Susie O’Neill said.
“I think it is their way of showing they want to give something back as well as the importance of the Olympic Games.”
The program connects Australian Olympians with athletes who have been selected as part of the 2014 Australian Youth Olympic Team in an eight week mentoring program.
Olympians and aspiring athletes are encouraged to connect online and discuss their experiences and challenges, both on and off the sporting arena.
“There was no formal program when I was a young athlete,” O’Neill said.
“However swimmer Donna Proctor took me under her wing and showed me what to do. She made me feel more comfortable in a team environment, more relaxed and my goals more attainable.”
The multiple Olympic medallist is a strong believer in peer support and realises the value it can have for a young athlete.
“You don’t know what the situation is going to be like, so to have a mentor who has been there and done that normalises what you are about to experience,” she said.
Champ Connect is structured to focus on providing unique support for athletes in an inspiring and motivating environment.
The program also provides opportunities for Australian Olympians to give something back to the sport and build a unique relationship with our sporting champions of the future.
“I signed up to help these young athletes with the transition from national age group to international athletes,” Olympian and hockey coach David Guest said.
“To set them on right track in the preparation for an Olympic Games so that they will feel more comfortable going into those environments.”
Guest, who competed at the 2008 Olympic Games and won a bronze medal with the men’s hockey team, wants also to share his off field advice.
“Being a coach, we are imparting our wisdom and teaching kids about how to play sport, but this is not only on field but off the field as well.
“I’d like to help them know what they can expect and how to act when representing Australia at the highest level.”
Champ Connect is an initiative of the AOC and the peer support program will run for eight weeks in the lead up to and during the 2014 Youth Olympic Games.
Australia will send approximately 90 outstanding young athletes to compete across 23 sports at the Youth Olympics, taking place in Nanjing, China, from 16 – 28 August 2014.