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09 Jun 2010
Singapore 2010 , YOG

Meet Irina Merlini, Ukraine’s Young Ambassador for Singapore 2010

My name is Irina Merleni. I am happy and proud to be the Youth Olympic Games Young Ambassador of Ukraine. I am 28 years old. I’m very lucky that sport has come into my life and still guides me through it.

In 2004 in Athens, I became the first female Olympic champion in Ukrainian history. I am also a three-time winner at the Women’s Freestyle Wrestling World Championship in 2000, 2001 and 2003, two-time European Champion in 2004 and 2005; and a bronze medallist in Beijing in women’s freestyle wrestling in 2008.

I started to go in for freestyle wrestling in 1997 when I was 15. My first big achievement was a gold medal in the Youth World Championship in 1998. Since 2004, I have taken an active part in popularising wrestling worldwide, and participating in training camps, international competitions and public events.

My father is a sports teacher, so from my childhood he taught my brother and I to love sport. All the time he arranged for us different sports competitions like “Who can jump further” or “Who can run faster” or “Who can pull up more”. At the age of five I started to go in for gymnastics, then I took up chess. When I was eight I went to music school to study the violin and the piano, but then I realised that it would be better for me to keep on practising sport. And I have never regretted it.

All my successes are linked with His Majesty Sports . He taught me to be strong and work hard; he gave me awareness that there is nothing impossible in a life, if you can overcome yourself and keep playing fair.

As a champion I am often invited to schools and sports schools to communicate with children. I share my experience with them, tell my sport story and ask them to love sport and practise sport and lead a healthy lifestyle. I want to show this wonderful world full of joy and happiness to other kids.

My main task as Young Ambassador is to promote the Youth Olympic Games and the Olympic spirit and values among youngsters in Ukraine. Just make a touch and you will feel it. Your dreams can come true here.

Express yourself, make friends and be healthy!

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