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30 Jul 2019
Olympic News, YOG

Firm friendships forged at the YOG

As the world marks the International Day of Friendship on 30 July, highlights how the Olympic value of friendship is a focal part of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG), with athletes talking about the lasting friendships they formed at the Games.

Spencer Wilcox

Canada, boxing, Buenos Aires 2018

“At the Youth Olympic Games, it’s like everyone is best friends. You can walk up to any athlete and have a full conversation, and nothing is wrong. Rivals become friends, and it’s a very positive environment. It just goes to show how much sport can change the world. It changes how people act; everyone here has a smile on their face, and it doesn’t matter what country you’re from.”


Robert Shyroian

Ukraine, karate, Buenos Aires 2018

“Being in the Olympic Village with so many athletes, meeting new people – from Ukraine and around the world – was very special; the best days of my life. My room-mate, Oleh [Veredyba], was from my hometown, but we didn’t know each other before, so it was very exciting to meet him. We became very good friends. I remember when he won his medal [in judo] and I was surprised how emotional I was watching him. I didn’t think I would feel like that about watching someone else win a medal.”

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Magnus Kim

Republic of Korea, cross-country skiing, Lillehammer 2016

“The YOG are such a great event and give athletes the opportunity to meet new friends from all over the world. For me, the YOG gave me joy when I achieved my results, but I found the same amount of joy meeting new friends. I will keep those memories forever. I will never forget the moment I stepped into my room after winning my first gold medal and my room-mate [Bae Jun-woo] went crazy; he was so happy for my win. We got to know each other during the YOG and we became really good friends.”

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Nicola Philippaerts

Belgium, equestrian, Singapore 2010

“Going to the Youth Olympic Games was an unbelievable experience. Martin Fuchs [of Switzerland] and I were on the same team with Team Europe, and we’re on the same show jumping team again now with the London Knights [in the Global Champions League]. We’re very close friends. I believe the friendships that you forge at the Youth Olympic Games are friendships that last throughout your careers.”


Noah Lyles

USA, athletics, Nanjing 2014

“We got to interact with so many athletes from other countries. I actually made a lot of friends and I still race against a lot of the same guys. I remember we had these cool little things [Yoggers] that you could connect to share your details whenever you met someone. So that made it easy to keep in touch.”


Grace Kim

Australia, golf, Buenos Aires 2018

“Living in the Youth Olympic Village was a great atmosphere to be part of; making lots of new friends, hanging out and doing all the activities they had going on. I was fortunate enough to room with some really cool girls, so we'd just talk and talk until it was time to go to sleep. All our team-mates were really friendly and supportive, so I did get to make a lot of friends, and now we're all friends on our social media.”


Yuliya Levchenko

Ukraine, athletics, Nanjing 2014

“During the Youth Olympic Games, I realised that sport unites the world. For the first time, I saw such a variety of sports and people from different nations in one place. It was all about making new friends and expanding your horizons. I understood how much friendship and team spirit can motivate you, and it doesn’t matter if you are on the field of play or cheering from the stands. I was enlightened by the humanity of the Olympic values and how they can help you in everyday life. I realised that sport is much more than just training and competitions.”


Igor Bellido Mikhailova

Spain, triathlon, Buenos Aires 2018

“Competing in the mixed triathlon relay was a great chance to meet and get to know other people from other countries who we usually don’t have the opportunity to speak to – because ours is basically an individual sport, and there's no time to make good friends from other teams. So it was a very nice way to make good friends. That’s what the Olympic Games should be about, right?”


Biniam Hailu

Eritrea, cycling, Buenos Aires 2018

“[Thanks to] the Youth Olympic Games, these people from all over the world are now our friends.”


Tags Olympic News , YOG
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