In love with Buenos Aires
On the occasion of Valentine’s Day today on 14 February, we look back at five remarkable moments that pulled at the heartstrings during the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Buenos Aires 2018.
YOG fall for dance sport
Breakdancing – also known as b-boying or breaking – made its Olympic debut in Buenos Aires, and it was evidently love at first sight judging by the reaction of the spectators to the two days of rhythmic action. Home favourite B-boy Broly (Mariano Carvajal) was the undisputed star of the show, claiming silver in the mixed team event with Italian B-girl Lexy to the roars of the predominantly Argentinian crowd, before patiently posing for pictures with his new-found legion of female fans.
A family affair
The Natatorium in Buenos Aires was charged with emotion when New Zealand teenager Gina Galloway took to the pool – 70 years after her grandmother Ngaire had competed at the Olympic Games London 1948. The 93-year-old “Nana Ngaire” is New Zealand’s oldest living Olympian, having swum in the women’s 100m backstroke in London, and she proudly ensured she followed all her granddaughter’s exploits in Argentina on her tablet. “She’s able to live-stream and watch the races,” Gina said. “Dad always sends her the link so she can watch, and it’s cool knowing she’s watching from home.”
The Olympic Movement demonstrated its ability to bring people together after IOC President Thomas Bach invited the Mu Pa Football Club to attend the YOG and stay in the Olympic Village. The 13 young Thai footballers made global headlines in June when they were trapped for days in a flooded cave before a dramatic underwater rescue. As well as playing a friendly against the River Plate youth side, the “Wild Boars” players made an emotional appearance at the Opening Ceremony in front of their fellow young athletes.
The five-day team cycling events at the YOG saw the riders compete in five different disciplines for the first time, and the new format led to one particularly public show of affection. It came in the cross-country short circuit race, in which Austrian Laura Stigger and Great Britain’s Harriet Harnden decided to work together to maximise each other’s points tallies, a tactic which ultimately helped Stigger claim silver in the girl’s team event. “I love you, Harriet,” the Austrian shouted to her new best friend after the race. “You are the best!” Harnden replied: “I really enjoyed helping Laura. I loved having been able to race with her and not against her.”
Tears of joy and sorrow
Winning a medal at the YOG is an emotional moment for any young athlete, but it proved to be particularly poignant for Argentinean swimmer Delfina Pignatiello after she claimed silver in the 800m freestyle. The 18-year-old took to the podium and broke into tears remembering the recent death of her grandmother, waving to the crowd with the word “abuela” (grandmother) and a love heart drawn on the palm of her left hand. “She passed away last week before I started swimming at these championships,” Pignatiello said at the time. “So this is for her.”