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Youth athletes support mixed gender events

29 August 2014

MIXED GENDER: While the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) has been a fantastic experience for everyone involved it has also acted as a dress rehearsal for mixed gender events on a larger Olympic stage.

This year the YOG has played host to mixed gender events across 14 of the 28 sports on show in Nanjing and the overall consensus has been largely positive.

Youth Olympic swimmer Ami Matsuo, 18, is a fan of the events having won bronze in both the mixed gender medley and freestyle relays in week one of the Games.

“For the girls it might be a bit daunting and scary swimming with all the big guys but...we love racing them, we love to step it up and show the guys that we’re swimmers as well and we can compete as well so I recon it should definitely continue,” the Sydneysider said.

Matsuo may get her wish sooner than you think with an IOC meeting scheduled in Monaco in December where it will be decided on whether or not more mixed gender events will be introduced into the Olympic movement for Rio.

The move will work in favour of the swim team with Australia traditionally doing very well in mixed gender events in the pool, the Aussie’s currently holding the world record in the 4x100m mixed medley relay, 3:46.52 (Ashley Delaney, Daniel Tranter, Alicia Coutts, Emma McKeon ) and 4x100m freestyle relay, 3:23.29 (Tommaso D'Orsogna, Cate Campbell, James Magnussen, Bronte Campbell ) both set at the 2014 Aquatic Super Series.

Currently tennis is the only sport where mixed gender events take centre court in an Olympic arena, but Australian Chef de Mission Susie O’Neill says she would love to see more of them incorporated in the Games in the future.

“I really like [mixed gender events]. If I use swimming as an example, because it is what I know the best, the 4x100 mixed relay, especially the medley one, was really fascinating as there are so many tactics involved - who you are going to pick and the lead change during the race,” she said.

“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 as athletes, not as their gender.”

It’s not all about swimming. Youth triathlete Jack van Stekelenburg, who won bronze for Australia along with Brittany Dutton in the mixed team triathlon with New Zealand, says he would love to see mixed gender teams introduced permanently into his sport as well.

“It was good to compete with the opposite sex obviously we don’t go with female athletes often we just race in male and female categories,” he said.

“They had it at the Commonwealth Games and it was a really popular event and it sort of adds a bit more excitement and flair to it and it would be good to see it at the real Olympics.”

Marina Carrier, youth modern pentathlete, agrees with Van Stekelenburg and says after competing in a mixed gender event with Hungary’s Gergely Regos on Tuesday they are a very positive experience for not just the athlete but the viewer as well.

“I think it is a really special experience just competing with boys and girls because you get an extra something that’s just not quite there all the time... It is something I would like to see in the future,” the 17-year-old said.

“Seeing them [mixed gender events] progress more into the Olympics would be a fantastic thing because they are just so much more fun to watch, they are so much more inclusive and I think from a viewers perspective I think it is just so much more fun to watch.”

Laura Judd





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