Family ties bind strong at the YOG
As the world marks the International Day of Families on 15 May, Olympic.org takes a look at some of the Youth Olympic Games athletes whose families have strong links to the YOG and the Olympic Games
Celina Saubidet Birkner
Argentina’s Celina Saubidet Birkner became the third member of her family to compete at the YOG when she sailed at Buenos Aires 2018. Now aged 19, Celina placed sixth in the Techno 293+ event, four years after her brother Francisco won gold in the same event at the YOG Nanjing 2014. Their brother, Bautista, had paved the way for the Saubidet Birkner family, having finished seventh in the Techno 293 event at the YOG Singapore 2010. He then went on to compete in the Olympic Games Rio 2016, finishing 21st in the RS:X windsurfing event.
Middle-distance star Keely Small was given the honour of carrying the Australian flag into the Opening Ceremony of Buenos Aires 2018, six years after her cousin, Alpine skier Greta, had been given the same honour at the Winter YOG Innsbruck 2012. Keely went on to win gold in the 800m in Buenos Aires and is now hoping to continue emulating her cousin, who used her own YOG experiences as a springboard to compete at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018.
New Zealand swimmer Gina Galloway competed at the YOG Buenos Aires 2018, 70 years after her grandmother had taken to the pool at the Olympic Games London 1948. Galloway took part in the 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke, 100m butterfly and mixed 4x100m freestyle relay in Buenos Aires, while her grandmother, Ngaire Lane, was the only woman on New Zealand’s seven-member team in London, finishing 11th in the 100m backstroke.
Perhaps inspired by older sister Taylor, who won a silver medal in the pool at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, Australian swimmer Kaylee McKeown was one of the stars of the YOG Buenos Aires 2018, winning gold in the 50m backstroke as well as a further two silver medals and a bronze.
Winning a silver medal in the team jumping event at the YOG Buenos Aires 2018 was poetic for British equestrian athlete Jack Whitaker, whose father Michael won team silver 34 years earlier at the Olympic Games Los Angeles 1984.
As the daughter of an Olympic gold medallist, cyclist Sofia Collinelli may have felt some extra pressure on her shoulders when she competed at the YOG Buenos Aires 2018, but she certainly didn’t show it. The young Italian finished sixth in the women’s road race and eighth in the criterium as she and compatriot Giada Specia combined to place seventh in the team event. Collinelli’s father, Andrea, won the individual pursuit at the Olympic Games Atlanta 1996, as well as seven medals at the Track Cycling World Championships, including two golds.
Maria Sol Ordas
Argentine rower Dolores Amaya had qualified for the single sculls at the Olympic Games Sydney 2000 when she found out she was pregnant, ruling her out of the event. Eighteen years later, the story came full circle as Maria Sol Ordas, Amaya’s daughter, claimed Argentina’s first gold medal at the YOG Buenos Aires 2018, in the junior women’s single sculls at Puerto Madero. Amaya, who competed at Atlanta 1996 at the age of just 16, took time away from the sport as she raised her daughter, though Maria’s father, Damian Ordas, went to Sydney 2000 to compete in the men’s pair. With two Olympians as parents, perhaps Maria was always destined for the top of the podium.