The old adage goes “there is no harm in asking”, and it paid off big time for judoka Liu Xiaoyu (CHN) at the first Chat with Champions session, part of the Culture and Education Programme (CEP) at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games. Liu took a chance at the event and managed to line up a training session with London 2012 Olympic Games judo gold medallist Lucie Decosse (FRA).
The three athlete role models in attendance at the Youth Olympic Village, Decosse, Heather Moyse (CAN) and Patrick Murphy (AUS), had just opened the floor for questions, when Liu cut to the chase. “Is there going to be an opportunity to teach me how to play judo? Can we do that?” Liu asked. “Absolutely, I train every morning between 8:30 and 9:30 and you’re welcome to join me,” Decosse replied.
Even better for LIU, the French judoka will hold Sport Initiation sessions at the Youth Olympic Village, another part of the CEP. “I often watch her competition videos. I watch every move, emotion and expression. I like her very much. She’s my idol,” Liu said. Decosse commended Liu for having the courage to ask for exactly what she wanted. “In China, judo is not one of the top sports, so it’s great to see a young girl that’s motivated by judo,” Decosse said.
The one-hour session covered a variety of topics, from the story behind the multiple Olympic medals won by the panel, through to how they cope with regret and nerves. “Nerves is what you have on the inside,” MOYSE said. “For me, I used to get worried if I wasn’t nervous. I would be like ‘oh my gosh, this is not going to be a good race’, because you don’t have that adrenaline.
“It’s about having the optimal level of arousal. Sometimes you can be too nervous,” the Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games bobsleigh gold medallist said. The athletes were also asked to compare the Youth Olympic Games to the Olympic Games.
“The Youth Olympic Games are fantastic. I’ve been very surprised how similar it is,” Murphy, a double Olympic swimming bronze medallist, said. “Especially for me is the experience around the village and the dining hall.”
Decosse said: “We have a lot of cultural experiences here that we don’t have at the normal Olympics. But here we are being helped to grow up. This in a way is better than the real Olympic Games.”
At one stage Moyse mentioned how she used to sing silly songs to calm the nerves of her teammate, but despite the audience’s best efforts, a song was not forthcoming. “I may be very good at multiple sports, but I’m not going to sing right now,” she said.