With roughly 46 per cent of the 3,600 athletes who participated in the inaugural Youth Olympic Games being female, Singapore 2010 is expected to see record participation by girls and women in an Olympic event. It also marked the debut of mixed events featuring teams with both men and women and athletes from different nationalities participating together in various sports.
Mixed gender events a success
"It was such a fascinating experience to participate in the mixed-super-sprint relay at the YOG” said triathlete Yuko Sato from Japan, who had won the first YOG competition with the individual women’s event earlier and placed eighth with her “Asia 1” team. She added: “It wasn't a race in which you should think of yourself, but it got me thinking of something more important - team spirit. One for all and all for one!! Of course, I had to handle some pressure to meet the team's expectations, but this is also something one has to overcome to rise to the next level as an athlete."
Female role models inspire young athletes
After their competitions and in their free time, the young athletes participated in a Culture and Education Programme (CEP) which was filled with more than 50 fun, interactive and educational activities and aimed to encourage the young athletes to learn and share, and build to friendships with their peers. For instance, during the “Chat with Champions”, participants learnt about personal experiences of top-level athletes, among them many female role models. One of them was Barbara Kendall, Olympic champion and mother of two. “I have had many young athlete girls come up to me so excited to hear you can have a family and still compete and that I have been to five Olympic Games” she said, adding: “I tell them that if you really want to achieve, it is up to you. It is about knowledge = confidence = success and learning as much as you can and doing everything with 100% effort and passion. Also, balancing sport, education and family is crucial for longevity in sport - that is why I competed for so long and what made my life happy.”
Customised offers for girl athletes at the YOG
“We want to provide the athletes with the tools to take ownership of their futures”, said IOC President Jacques Rogge about the objective of the CEP shortly before the opening of the Youth Olympic Games. Customised offers for the girls and women participating included education about a Healthy Body Image, nutritional advice and career planning.