Seven times the YOG lead the way!
From the international debut of 3x3 basketball to the introduction of the Sports Lab, we pick out six examples of how the YOG are leading the way in sporting innovation.
The first YOG in Singapore in 2010 made their mark in numerous ways, most notably with the introduction of events featuring mixed-gender and mixed-NOC teams. These included triathlon and swimming relays, and archery, table tennis and fencing events, to name but a few, adding a completely new element to the sporting competitions, which proved particularly popular with athletes.
As if the 28 sports on the Youth Olympic programme didn’t provide enough entertainment, visitors to the 2014 YOG in Nanjing were also given the opportunity to enjoy world-class displays of roller sports, skateboarding, sports climbing and wushu, at the innovative Sports Lab. Throughout the Games, large crowds flocked to the facility to view the two-hour showcases that were held for each sport, with top Chinese and international athletes displaying their skills before offering fans the chance to try out the sports for themselves. The concept proved so popular that it was further developed during the 2016 Winter YOG in Lillehammer, where fans were given the opportunity to have a go at all 15 Winter Olympic disciplines when visiting the YOG venues during the Games.
The Olympic return of golf and rugby
Golf and rugby returned to the Olympic Games for the first time in 112 and 92 years respectively during Rio 2016, but both sports actually made their Olympic comebacks during the 2014 YOG in Nanjing. The rugby sevens competition provided plenty of highlights, with Australia winning the girls’ competition, and France beating Argentina in an epic final to secure gold in the boys’ event. The golf competitions, meanwhile, saw Italy’s Renato Paratore and Korea’s Lee Soyoung celebrate gold medals in the men’s and women’s events respectively, with Sweden’s Marcus Kinhult and Linnea Strom combining to win the mixed team event.
All eyes were on the basketball courts in Singapore during the 2010 YOG, with the action-packed 3x3 format making its international debut. The fast-paced games saw two teams of just three players compete on half a court. Games were played over two five-minute periods, although teams could win sooner by being the first to reach 33 points. Serbia won the boys’ event while China took gold in the girls’ competition. The successful debut of 3x3 basketball was followed by an innovative dunk contest for boys and shootout event for girls at the 2014 YOG in Nanjing.
The Nanjing 2014 YOG also featured an exciting new hockey format, with matches reduced to high-intensity five-a-side games of three 12-minute periods played on half-pitches. The faster games proved a hit with fans, featuring more shots on goal and less play in midfield, with Australia winning gold in the men’s event and China claiming the women’s title.
A unique new bobsleigh format guaranteed exciting and closely contested competitions at the Lillehammer 2016 Winter YOG, with the introduction of the monobob event. By featuring one-athlete teams, the event created the opportunity for more countries to participate. The new format ensured that the outcome of both the women’s and the men’s competitions were decided only when the last competitors crossed the line at the end of their second and final runs, with Germany’s Laura Nolte and Jonas Jannusch topping the podiums respectively.
The 2018 YOG in Buenos Aires are also set to break new ground when, for the first time in Olympic history, there will be complete gender equality on the Olympic sports programme. In total, 1,893 women and 1,893 men are set to compete in the YOG, which will also include new youth-oriented events such as BMX freestyle, kiteboarding, beach handball and cross-country running.