This past week, while working as an intern at the Canadian Olympic Committee’s office in Montreal, I received quite the unexpected guest at my desk: Zhihao ‘Michael’ Zhang, a member of the 727 Cycling Team, came to visit me.
Michael and other members of the team are a volunteer group commissioned by the Organising Committee to bike across North America to promote the Youth Olympic Games.
He made effective use of social media to find my profile that listed I was the Young Ambassador for Canada, so he decided to take a chance and go meet someone else who shared the same passion for the Youth Olympic Games as he did!
Michael was very excited to meet me, to learn about my trip to Nanjing in March for the Young Ambassadors’ Seminar, Canada’s athletes and to share stories about his travels thus far. I learnt that he began in Houston (more than 2,500 km from Montreal) in April and has cycled to cities like Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and New York City – unbelievably, he travels on average of 100 km per day.
During his visit, I gave him a tour of the Canadian Olympic Committee’s offices and introduced him to my colleagues. That evening, we went out for dinner to eat Quebec’s world-renowned dish - poutine, a plate of French fries, topped with gravy and cheese curds. We then attended a professional soccer game, a first for both of us… and it won’t be my last!
At the end of the night, we presented Michael with a red Canadian Olympic Team sweater, which he immediately adorned! He's making his way to Canada's capital, Ottawa, next and then onto Los Angeles for his return flight to China next month. Upon his arrival in China, he will regroup with his team and spend the month leading up to the Games biking to Nanjing.
As a Young Ambassador for the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games, I found meeting Michael incredibly inspiring. He showed me how sport can encourage and facilitate cultural exchanges and bring those from across the world together!
Sport really does help turn strangers into friends.
I’m really looking forward to the Games in August and for athletes from all nations to not only compete in sport, but also learn, share and build lasting friendships!
With just months to go until the Games, the YAs, aged between 18-25-years-old, are busy spreading the YOG spirit all over the world by hosting camps and workshops with young athletes in their communities and working closing with their NOCs and National Federations.
Click here to see the full list of the Young Ambassadors