- 20 Dec 2010
Bartekova keen on spreading the Olympic values to the world's youth
Alan Harris, Singapore 2010 young reporter from Barbados, reports from Durban
Already she is an Olympian and world record holder. To boot, she has already qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games. But the one thing that 26-year-old Danka Bartekova treasures most of all: the ability to communicate the time-honoured Olympic values through the universal and unwavering language of sport.
She has an interesting story: After her father, an avid huntsman, gave her a turn on his shotgun in the mist-kissed woods of Slovakia 13 years ago, she has never looked back. Now a professional target shooter, she attended the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and in the same year set world records for the skeet competition. She has a twin sister, Lanka, who also shoots. Earlier this year at the European Championships in Russia, Danka finished with a gold medal and Lanka with a bronze. It was the first time they shared a podium together.
But the summer of 2010 provided Danka with another historical and ground-breaking opportunity. She journeyed to Singapore for the first-ever Youth Olympic Games (YOG).
Of course she was not there as a favoured markswoman. Athletes are between the ages of 14 and 18. She was there in the capacity of a YOG Ambassador.
Joined by an international mix of 29 like herself, she shouldered the responsibility of mentoring the 3,600 young athletes who participated in the historic event.
It was an important role she played; a vital one. It was one that would change the lives of the countless young Olympians she and her colleagues would meet over the course of a two-week period in August.
The Ambassadors were ever-present. They were there every step of the way, offering their full support to the achievements of the athletes both on and off the field of play. "My role was part of an inspiring Culture and Education Programme (CEP)," she said recently while in Durban, South Africa.
Again, just like she did in Singapore, the articulate Slovak athlete was doing what she treasured most: passing on the Olympic values of respect, excellence and friendship.
She was a guest speaker at the 7th World Conference for Sport, Education and Culture, whose theme was "Giving a Voice to Youth". She grasped her opportunity with both hands.
"When I met many of the youth Olympians in Singapore, many of them did not know about the Olympic values," she said.
"Like me, they were just focused on their respective sports. I spoke to them about what the Olympic values are. Of course sport is important but there is much more to life".
While in Durban, Danka was joined by five other YOG Ambassadors, three YOG athletes and three YOG Young Reporters. With boundless enthusiasm, they represented countries such as Barbados, Senegal, Austria, Singapore, Rwanda, Brazil, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and South Africa. During the Conference - which was opened by Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee - all took centre stage and had an opportunity for their voices to be heard.
"I feel very privileged. For a young person to have an opportunity such as this, to contribute to a conference that 'Gives Youth a Voice', is very important. I think that this is the beginning of many great things to come from my generation. We were there to talk about our attitudes and our views. It was a great day for my age group".
After an 8th place finish at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Danka seized her first opportunity and qualified for the London 2012 Games with a bronze medal at the 2010 World Championships in Munich.
She currently studies sports diplomacy - a perfect fit for an “ambassador” of sport.