Golden Start, Golden End
27 August 2014
TEAM: It was a golden start and a golden end for the Australian Youth Olympic Team competing at the second summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.
The green and gold won a total of 26 medals: 5 gold, 4 silver and 17 bronze of which five medals were won by Aussies competing in mixed nations events.
From the outset, Chef de Mission Susie O’Neill asked the Team for ‘excellence and to give 110% right to the very end’.
“Overall I have been really impressed with everyone’s attitude and how they have carried themselves,” the multiple Olympic medallist said.
“On the field I think only the athlete knows whether they have given 110%. Hopefully they all have, but I think whether their performance has been a positive or negative one, I would like them to look at what they can improve in the future.”
The future for swimming looks bright with these athletes bringing home 10 medals for Australia – one silver and nine bronze. Brianna Throssell won a total of seven bronze medals, including one for the mixed medley heat swim.
“The times here have been amazing. The standard in the swimming was a lot higher than I expected,” the Olympic swimming champion said.
“Seven out of eight of the swimmers did PBs in at least one of their events.”
Also heavily contributing to the medal tally was the track and field section, bringing home nine medals for Australia, of which two were gold, three silver and four bronze. Read more >>>>
“A definite highlight for me was watching Jessica Thornton win gold in the 400m,” O’Neill said. “I have been really impressed with the athletics team ... I am used to being in teams where swimming always gets most of the gold medals.”
The triathletes brought home medals from two of the three events in which they competed, one of which was the first gold medal of the Games won by Brittany Dutton in the women’s individual race.
And thriving on team spirit, the men and women’s team sports of hockey and rugby sevens also added to the medal tally both bringing home a gold medal each.
“Team sports are exciting to watch and rugby sevens is reaching out to a new audience that have not been exposed to the Olympics before.”
O’Neill is confident the Youth Olympics have been a stepping stone for these aspiring athletes and that some from this Team will go on to represent Australia at future Olympic Games.
“There are certainly a few athletes that stand out more than others. Without naming names, there were three that I noticed at the swimming and a few from the rugby sevens team,” she said.
The three time Olympian is pleased the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is putting money into junior sport and after experiencing the Youth Olympics for herself and thinks it is a good concept.
However never one to be satisfied after achieving a goal, O’Neill hopes a distinction between the Olympics and Youth Olympics is maintained.
“I hope that when athletes make the Youth Olympics they are not satisfied with that, it spurs them to go on further to the actual Olympics.”
Mixed gender and demonstration sports at the Youth Olympics have been watched closely by the IOC, as Agenda 2020 approaches in December this year.
“I have seen a lot of the mixed gender events and I really like them. I think it is a great concept - the way forward, putting athletes more on equal terms as athletes, not as their gender.”
The first time Chef de Mission has enjoyed her role, supporting athletes in all sports, getting behind the scenes and feeling what it is like to be an athlete again.
She charged the Australian Youth Team with these parting words.
“Enjoy and celebrate what you did well here but don’t be satisfied. There is always more you can do.
“You can always train harder, always work on your skills more. Don’t be satisfied with this and continue to aim for something better.”