As a graduate of the first IOC Young Reporters programme at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010, Julia Vynokurova knows a thing or two about being behind the camera. In fact, thanks to this “life-changing” experience, she has made a career out of it, enjoying an internship with Getty Images at the London 2012 Olympic Games and now working with Russia’s national RIA Novosti agency, coordinating images for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games. But last week, the 25-year-old Ukrainian photographer got a taste of what it is like to be in front of the camera when she turned torchbearer for a Moscow leg of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay.
What was it like to run with the torch?
It was a truly special experience, for so many reasons. It felt like a huge honour to carry the Olympic Torch on behalf of the Olympic youth – all those athletes, Young Ambassadors and Young Reporters for whom the Youth Olympic Games have become an inspiration, an important step in a career or, like for me, a turning point in life. It was also a very unique feeling to be part of one of the most sacred Olympic traditions. Even more so because it was the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay. Coming from Sevastopol, a city just across the Black Sea from Sochi, I truly consider these My Games. And it was great fun too! Lots of photos taken, many laughs and smiles, and very sincere emotions!
How did your experience at the YOG help you?
It does sound a little bit clichéd every time a Young Reporter calls the Programme “life-changing”, but for me it really has been so. Besides all the unbelievable opportunities and people I got to work with and learn from, I am particularly grateful to the programme for helping me define my career path. It was in Singapore that I became totally infatuated with the Olympics. It was in Innsbruck (2012 Youth Olympic Games) and London (2012 Olympic Games) that I got to polish my photography skills and started learning the operational side of the Games, setting myself an aim of one day becoming part of the team who deliver this most inspirational sporting event of the world. Now, as a National Olympic Photo Pool Coordinator, I’m combining my two passions – photography and the Olympic Games!
Have you kept in touch with the other Young Reporters?
I have formed some very meaningful friendships within the group, which I hope will also prove to be lifelong ones. They are beautiful people, and talented reporters, the future of the Olympic media.
With the rest of the gang we are always in touch in social media, on our Facebook platform https://www.facebook.com/youngreporters, and also meeting at Olympic events and conferences from time to time. It's amazing to see how well most of the Young Reporters are doing in their careers.
What advice would you give to young journalists hoping to become sports reporters?
To apply for the next addition of the IOC Young Reporters Programme, that’s the first thing. It really can be your lucky ticket. And to all young people around the world, regardless of their career choices, I would advise to dream big and be bold and persistent in pursuing those dreams.
Have you been inspired by Julia’s story? If the answer is yes, then you should waste no time contacting your National Olympic Committee as the second cycle of the Young Reporters Programme has already been launched. This sports journalism initiative will bring together 30 budding journalists, aged between 18 and 24, from the five continents, Africa, America, Asia, Oceania and Europe, and will run during the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games. For more information on the Young Reporters Programme please click here.