Surprising family connections at the Youth Olympic Games
With the International Day of Families being celebrated on 15 May, we take a look at some of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) athletes whose families have strong ties to the Games.
Alex and Sabrina Massialas
US fencer Alex Massialas won individual silver and team bronze at the 2010 YOG in Singapore, before going on to become the first American men’s fencer to win an individual medal at the Olympic Games since 1984, as he captured silver in the foil at Rio 2016. His success saw him become the first YOG athlete from the USA to win a medal at the Olympic Games; but his younger sister, Sabrina, may soon be following in his footsteps. Already she has managed to go one better than her brother by winning YOG gold, as she claimed victory in the women’s foil at Nanjing 2014. “She doesn’t let me forget that,” jokes Massialas. “She always says it’s the one competition where she was able to do better than her brother!”
Enrique and Juan Cruz Camerlinckx
Enrique Camerlinckx is more than a year older than his brother, Juan Cruz, but that didn’t stop the siblings appearing alongside each other at the YOG Nanjing 2014. The duo were part of the Argentinean rugby sevens team that won a historic silver in China, as the discipline made its debut on an Olympic programme. “My mum is probably crying right now,” Juan Cruz joked at the time. “I think [our parents] are really, really proud of us.”
Michael and Rachel Parsons
Michael Parsons first started ice dancing with his younger sister, Rachel, in 2010. Just two years later, they were competing together at the Winter YOG Innsbruck 2012, where they finished fourth. Since then, they have gone on to clinch gold in the 2016–17 ISU Junior Grand Prix Final and the 2017 Junior World Championships; and Rachel is glad to have her brother alongside her on the ice. “I did singles for a bit, but I found ice dance to be more artistic,” she says. “And I was really nervous to go out on the ice when it was just me; so having my brother out there made me more confident.” Having now stepped up to the senior ranks, they finished sixth at the prestigious Four Continents Championships in January.
Jackson and Beau-James Wells
Brothers Jackson and Beau-James are part of a freestyle skiing dynasty in New Zealand, with their elder siblings Jossi and Byron both competing internationally as well. It was only the younger duo who got the chance to compete at the YOG, however, with Beau-James finishing fourth in the ski halfpipe at the Winter YOG Innsbruck 2012, before Jackson placed sixth in ski slopestyle at the Winter YOG Lillehammer 2016. And Beau-James had some helpful advice for his younger brother as he prepared to follow in his footsteps. “He just told me it was a whole heap of fun and to go out there and enjoy it,” said Jackson. “So I did just that!”
Sarah and Taylor Anderson
Twin sisters Sarah and Taylor Anderson started curling together at the age of five and were both part of the US mixed curling team at the Winter YOG Innsbruck 2012, losing to eventual silver medallists Italy in the quarter-finals. Since then, the duo have kept playing together, winning two straight national titles at the 2015 and 2016 US Junior Championships before clinching silver at the 2016 World Junior Championships. And as Sarah explains, there are benefits to both being keen curlers: “We always have someone there to practise with!”