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Olympians visit children's hospitals in Sydney for Olympic Day

21 June 2018

OLYMPIC DAY: Each Olympic Games, the world comes together through sport; differences are set aside, even welcomed, and talents are showcased.

World Olympic Day aims to accomplish this same feat each year on June 23. The annual day unites the world through sport, celebrates the Olympic Games and Olympic values like friendship, respect, determination and courage.

In celebration of the 70th annual Olympic Day this Saturday, Aussie Olympians are spreading the Olympic values all week through school visits, hospital visits and workshops.

Seven Olympians had the chance to share the Olympic love at the Starlight Express Rooms in Sydney this week.

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A humbling experience, the athletes played games, answered questions and acted out different sports with the children and their families.

The athletes were also able to go around the hospital ward to visit children in their rooms.

Rio 2016 Olympian and bronze medallist Matt Abood visited Sydney Children’s Hospital along with fellow Olympians Anneliese Rubie, Lucinda Whitty and Patrick McCutcheon.

Abood said he was fortunate to meet Olympians growing up and welcomes the opportunity to provide young kids with that same excitement.

"It is very easy to come see some kids and put a smile on a face, and it's a really nice way to be able to give back through a sport that has given me so many opportunities," Abood said.

"It might be just five or 10 minutes for a child, but you're taking them out of here and giving them a distraction and something to hope for."

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Alpine skier Sami Kennedy-Sim reflected on how fortunate she feels to be able to bring positivity and encouragement to communities Olympians represent.

"Giving back to the community is so important in any aspect, whether it's volunteering for a day or mentoring the next generation of athletes," Kennedy-Sim said.

"There is always an opportunity to inspire change in our community and our people, and if we lose sight of that, there's not really any point of being an elite athlete."

Kennedy-Sim participates in many events like this one throughout the year.

"I do some school visits, and I do motivational speaking for schools across the country.

"This is the first hospital visit I've done, and it was very unique. I'm looking forward to coming back again."

Beijing 2008 diving silver medallist Melissa Wu visited Westmead Children’s Hospital with Kennedy-Sim and Hayden Smith.

Wu believes promoting Olympism is one of the most important parts of sport.

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"It's everything it means to be an athlete," Wu said. "It's about sharing positivity and your Olympic values to the wider Australian community and trying to give back the values you’ve learned in sport."

Olympic Day aims to unite the world through sport and develop Olympism in global communities.

Olympic Day will be celebrated in Australia this whole week. On Friday, Olympians Brit Elmslie, Megan Jones and Stuart O'Grady and Louise Bawden will visit the Starlight Express Room at the Women and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide.

Continuing with hospital visits even beyond Olympic Day, Jesse Phillips, Alana Nichols and Blair Evans will visit the Starlight Express Room at Perth Children’s Hospital in Nedlands on Monday. 

Nicole Booth
olympics.com.au

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