A two-time Olympian in diving, Anna Sorokina will be serving as Chef de Mission for the Ukrainian Team at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Buenos Aires 2018.

The role and responsibilities have become quite familiar for the 42-year-old, who won a bronze medal in the women’s 3m synchronised springboard at Sydney 2000, and has since been Chef de Mission for her country at all four previous Summer and Winter YOG.

She first started working at the Ukraine National Olympic Committee (NOC) in 2006 as Olympic Programme Solidarity Manager and is currently the Chief Manager of Olympic Games Operations following a promotion in May.

“There are so many Olympic projects now – in Europe, we have Youth Olympic Festivals, European Games, Olympic Games, Youth Olympic Games and now the Beach Games,” Sorokina tells Athlete365 regarding her job. “This is why someone needs to professionally take care of all of this.”

Prior to representing her country in Sydney, Sorokina earned a university degree in physical culture and Olympic sports education. Upon her retirement from competitive diving, she landed various positions associated with the Ukrainian Diving Federation, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) and the European Olympic Committees.

Here, Sorokina discusses the transition from a full-time athlete to life after sport, while also expressing the joy and satisfaction she has felt from supporting young athletes at the YOG…

Job satisfaction
It is a great honour to be a Chef de Mission because it means that you lead your team and also contribute and share your knowledge with the youngsters. Through them, you can experience again and again this nice sense of victory and growing up [in sport].

Kids are really different before and after they win a medal. Their lives are changed forever and they become more confident, blooming like a flower.

It’s really satisfying when you feel like you’ve had a small role in their lives. It encourages you to do this not-so-easy job again and again.

Transferrable skills
First of all, I think it’s not only the Olympic Games, but sport in general [that gives you useful skills]. All these skills you learn come from self-discipline and continuous work. Learning how to work hard, you apply this knowledge to other aspects of your life.

When I became a diver I started speaking English aged 12 and this, along with my knowledge of sport, has really helped me.

I share with other athletes that they must learn everywhere; not only in school and at universities. There are many different ways for development and a platform like Athlete365 can also help with obtaining this knowledge.

Making the transition
The most difficult thing for me was to sit behind a computer for eight hours a day reading documents; but I cannot say the transition is difficult because if you really want something, you just have to do it. Don’t be frustrated if you can’t immediately get what you desire. You have to find different ways.

It is just like training. Not all athletes are granted the perfect conditions or perfect results at once. You have to do something to reach it and it involves a strategy and daily work. It is the same with your life.

It is difficult at first because as an athlete you are depending on your coach, team and National Federation – but now you are fighting just for yourself. You have to make your own way and this can be a little bit difficult. You must realise that nobody except you will manage your life now.

Advice for young athletes at the YOG

Keep your eyes wide open, but try to concentrate on yourself. There will be lots of fascination around and first you have a job to do. Be brave and don’t be shy. It is very important to feel that you can take advantage of every chance your fortune will give you because these Games will only happen once for you. Believe in yourself and be happy. When you go to the competitions with this positive mood, then you will succeed.”

The benefits of the YOG
From the point of sport performance, it has been absolutely great. At first, we didn’t know what feeling the athletes would have about the Games and what level this competition will be at in comparison with national, continental or international youth championships.

The YOG has become a huge resource of support for the athletes and in the identification of talent from an early stage. It is a great education for them to experience such level of competition, communication between countries, the special atmosphere and knowledge about various topics that concern their sport careers. I have seen from one Games to the next that kids are more educated on the ground level, more prepared and more professional during the early stage of their careers.

For information and resources about the YOG Buenos Aires 2018, visit Athlete365’s ‘Get Ready Pack’ here