Japan’s Yuka Sato – who won the first-ever Youth Olympic Games (YOG) gold medal in Singapore in 2010 – talks about her memorable #YOGJourney and her hopes for her home Olympic Games in 2020.
Japan's Yuka Sato etched her name into Olympic history at the YOG Singapore 2010 by becoming the first-ever YOG gold medallist. Her impressive victory in the women's triathlon ensured her unique place in the record books and kick-started a #YOGJourney that she hopes will take her all the way to the podium on home soil at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Following her victory in Singapore, Sato – who took up triathlon aged nine and credits her mother as the biggest influence on her career – revealed how a trip to the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 motivated her to pursue her own Olympic dream.
"When I watched the triathlon at Beijing 2008, I was inspired to one day compete on the Olympic stage," she said. "The YOG and the Olympic Games are very different events, but I feel like I've overcome the first hurdle.
2010 Getty Images
"To achieve this gold medal is the halfway stage. I know that there will be hardships in my career, but when I face them I will be able to remember this feeling. It will give me confidence for the future."
Eight years on, reflecting on her #YOGJourney in an interview with olympic.org, Sato still has fond memories of her success in Singapore.
"Winning the first-ever gold medal at the Youth Olympic Games, and seeing everyone celebrating my achievement, was a great experience for me," says Sato, who encourages athletes at the YOG Buenos Aires 2018 later this year to make the most of the experience.
"The Youth Olympic Games are a great opportunity for [athletes] to meet athletes from other countries and other sports, so I would tell them to enjoy that experience and meet as many people as they can."
2016 Getty Images
Since winning YOG gold, Sato has forged a successful triathlon career that has included gold medals in the 2015 Tongyeong ITU Triathlon World Cup and the 2015 Osaka ASTC Sprint Triathlon Asian Cup.
In September 2013, she was also chosen to represent young Japanese athletes during Tokyo's final presentation for the Olympic Games 2020. Having made her senior Olympic debut at Rio 2016, where she finished 15th, her next goal is to emulate her YOG success on home soil in 2020.
"Having the Olympic Games in Tokyo is very exciting for me and for all Japanese people. Everyone is very focused on this event, and I can take inspiration and power from that. Hopefully I can use that power to qualify for the Games and win a medal."