Singapore games gateway to London 2012
Like so many international travellers from these shores, Australia’s Youth Olympians will use Singapore as a stopover on the way to London and the world.
The Australian team, composed of the maximum allowable 100 athletes, flew out to Singapore on Thursday ahead of the inaugural Youth Olympic Games, to be held from August 14-26.
AOC chairman John Coates said the introduction of the Youth Olympics added a valuable stepping stone for young athletes seeking to compete at senior level, but counselled them not to get too wrapped up in the race to London.
According to Coates, Rio de Janeiro 2016 looms as a more realistic target for many of the competing athletes.
“Some of them will get through (to London), (but) it is a big ask to expect too many just two years out,” said Coates at the farewell function for the team in Sydney Olympic Park.
“We had 28 from our early (Olympic youth) festivals make it to Athens in 2004, and another 76 for Beijing, and so for us the experience has been good.”
The Youth Olympics have been fashioned in the image of the festivals arranged by the AOC in the wake of the Sydney 2000 games, and Coates said they carried a hefty educational component in addition to the competition with more than 3000 athletes from the rest of the world.
“It’s not only a pathway for competition but an opportunity to help prepare young athletes for a lot of experiences,” he said.
“The youth festivals we’ve run have given a different perspective, performing in a multi-sport event rather than just going to their own world championship.
“These are going to have a big element of education, learning about Olympic values, life skills and values and those sorts of things, an anti-doping message and we’re very interested to see how it all goes.”
Australia’s team for London remains a work in progress, with the Delhi Commonwealth Games in October looming as a key signpost along the way, irrespective of organisational worries.
“I think the results (from Australian athletes) this year have been pretty good, but we haven’t seen all the results,” said Coates.
“We’ll be paying very close attention to how the swimmers in particular go, that is the one I really don’t have a feel for yet, but the signs in most of the other sports are encouraging.”
Encouraging too, according to Coates, are London’s preparations for 2012, aside from the expected difficulties with transport and space in one of the world’s more congested cities.
London organising supremo Sebastian Coe will visit Sydney in September to mark the 10th anniversary of the 2000 Olympics.© AAP 2013
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