Yesterday I blogged about the Youth Olympic Games currently taking place in Singapore. The first YOG medal was awarded to Yuka Sato of Japan for triathlon, she completed the 750m swim, 20km cycle and 5km run in 1 hour and 49 seconds. I know it would be normal for me to now focus on Sato and how awesome her achievement is – and it really is, I doubt I’d ever manage to complete a triathlon, never mind do it as Sato did, in Singapore with the heat and humidity, at such a young age with so much expectation resting on her shoulders. I’m not going to do that though – the media will I’m sure.
Photo by Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games
The other line to take would be to explore what appears to be a little odd decision to put the triathlon on first – an event which is very demanding and one at which athletes are guaranteed to perform better if they’ve had time to acclimatise to the conditions. There I said it, but I’m not going to say any more.
Instead I’m going to focus on three of the athletes – but not the three you’d expect, the Gold (Sato, Japan), Silver (Ellie Salthouse, Australia) and Bronze medal winners (Kelly Whitley, USA), well ok then, I’ll talk about one of them – Kelly Whitley, then I’m also going to mention Eli Thorogood from Team GB and Wan Ci Clara Wong from Singapore.
The little snippet that struck me about Kelly was the fact that a couple years ago she had given up triathlon! Well I guess the truth as it is now is that she took a break from it, she only returned to training last November and has only taken part in one competition this year. She gave a brilliant quote:
“After two years off I knew it was time to come back because this is what I really love doing and I enjoy…I absolutely love this sport. I would not want to do anything else”.
You can read more on the Team USA site here and it includes a picture of Kelly looking pleased as punch.
So next up is Eli Thorogood, the Team GB representative in this event. You can follow Eli on twitter here and you can see an interview she gave after competing in the Triathlon World Champs in Hyde Park last month below
I know some of you won’t watch the video so I’ll pick out the key point which was that Eli was aiming to get a top 15 place – she does say she’d love a top 10 but she’d be happy with top 15. (You really should watch the video it’s only short and it’s great to see how much it means to her to be competing in Singapore). Eli is also expecting her A Level results while she’s in Singapore so hopefully she’ll be pleased with her placing – she came 13th so achieved her ambition and no doubt she’ll do just as well with her study – fingers crossed for her anyhow.
So the final person I wanted to mention was Wan Ci Clara Wong who was placed last in the event (although two athletes didn’t compete after an accident on the cycle section). I was checking out the photos earlier and the photo of Wan finishing her race summed up everything that I understand the YOG to be about – friendship, excellence and respect; about not giving up; about appreciating the whole experience not just winning medals.
Photo by Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games
So there you have it, my trio of triathletes – not quite the usual suspects but equal deserving of our appreciation and admiration methinks.
August 15 2010 marks the 65th anniversary of VJ Day, the day that Japan surrendered, the official end to the Second World War. My Grandad was serving in Burma – now 92 his memories of that time are as vivid today as they were the first time round. My Grandad often says that he went to war as a boy and came back a changed man. He was, and is, a quietly reflective person; he’d admit himself that he’s a worrier, a sensible type; he’ll also readily acknowledge that he has only lasted this long with the support of my Gran, a solid tower of strength for him during and after the war. I can not begin to imagine what he must have been through, what he saw, what he had to live with. I know that my Gran discourages him from discussing the war nowadays as she feels it leads to him having nightmares – I often wonder whether him not talking just means he sits having daymares (if such a thing exists).
Anyhow, my Grandad was an active member of the local branch of the Burma Star Association and went to the annual memorial every year until this year. This year he stayed home. He has reached a considerable age and lost many of his friends, not only during the war but since and he wasn’t wanting to put my mum out this year – she accompanies him as my Gran “isn’t much into all the old war boys talk”. I can’t help but think that a little slice of history is dying away with these veterans. I often berate myself for not paying more attention when my Grandad regaled his war stories to us as children – the only one I can remember in any great detail was the one my Gran always told him off for telling us…it was an account of the fact that there was one jungle plant that if you pee’d on it would close up, my Gran never approved of that story but as kids we loved it I suspect that when my grandparents die we will find a treasure trove of memories – I know my Grandad has spent hours collecting clippings from the paper that detailed what they got up to, and I know he has letters he sent my Gran during the war and correspondence between him and his fellow soldiers sent for years afterwards – I’d like to think that I’ll take the time to document it in some way, but for now this blog post is a start.
Burma Star medal picture from wikimedia
Today saw the start of the 12-days of competition at the Youth Olympic Games, or YOG, which is being held in Singapore. This is the first ever Youth Olympic Games, the brain child of the IOC President, Jacques Rogges. There was a spectacular opening ceremony last night, highlights of which can be seen on BBC Red Button or over at the official YOG site and there are some awesome photos on flickr here. The YOG will see over 3500 athletes aged 14-18, representing 205 National Olympic Committees, compete in 26 different sports and participate in a Culture and Education Programme, or CEP.
The CEP is absolutely core to the spirit of the YOG, it builds on the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect and it is designed to ensure that the young athletes get a balanced and rounded experience where they can focus on sport, education and culture.
Photo by coolinsights
Jacques Rogges spoke at the opening ceremony about the importance of the games for the young athletes:
Your experiences here will help you prepare for life beyond the field of play. You will share the wonderful atmosphere of the Olympic Village. You will gain a deeper appreciation of Olympic values. You will acquire knowledge and life skills through our culture and education programme.
You will learn the difference between winning and being a champion. To win, you merely have to cross the finish line first. To be a champion, you have to inspire admiration for your character, as well as for your physical talent. You have to compete in spirit of fair play, respecting your opponents and the rules — without doping or any other unfair advantage.
If you can reach that pinnacle, if you are ready to serve as role models for your generation, you will all be champions, irrespective of your rankings.
You can read all of his speech here if you are interested and I’d recommend taking a peak at some of the Young Ambassador’s blogs for a fascinating insight into the behind the scenes action. Check out Erin’s blog from Team USA, Florian’s from Team Austria, Callum’s from Team Canada or of course Ferg’s from Team GB.