For the 34th Olympic Week, which got off to a flying start yesterday with 3,000 sports try-outs organised, IOC President Thomas Bach went to meet the young participants.
He took part in a Q&A session with around 100 youngsters aged 8 to 15, who had come to learn about and practise over 30 sports disciplines. The children were highly enthused at the idea of putting questions to the President, and wanted to know which sports he practised, how he had chosen fencing and how he organised his time.
Here is a brief sample from the playful and spontaneous chat.
Q: Why did you come to meet us today?
A: I still learn a great deal from my meetings with schools and universities. It is important for me to know what you think about the Olympic Games, and above all to understand what we have to do to get you interested in the Games and sport in general. You represent the future and your ideas are valuable to me.
Q: How did you feel when you were elected as President of the IOC?
A: When you win a medal, you are responsible for all the steps leading up to the victory. In an election, your fate depends on others. When you are elected, you have the feeling that everyone who voted for you places their trust in you. You feel the responsibility that that represents, and it’s a very special emotion.
Q: What were you thinking about right before your Olympic final in Montreal?
A: It’s as if you are in a tunnel – with total concentration. You don’t think about the others – anything that could distract you. It is not easy to enter this tunnel, but it is the key to success.
Q: How did you choose fencing?
R. Well in fact, I always wanted to play football. When my parents told me that they were going to sign me up to a fencing club, I was in tears. But they were clever enough to tell me that the training that I would have in fencing would help me play football better. That’s how I started…
Q: How long have you been doing this job?
A: It’s not a job – it’s a pleasure. I am a bit like an interpreter between the athletes and the world of sport. I want to offer the best conditions for competition, clean sport and fair play.
The IOC President then thanked the 200,000th visitor to the Museum since the start of the year – in the person of little Alina, aged 12.
A group photo and an autograph-signing session concluded this meeting full of anecdotes. The youngsters then headed off to the various workshops organised for them this week even more motivated.
For many years, Olympic Week has been one of the highlights of the autumn half-term holidays for youngsters in Vaud and French-speaking Switzerland. This year is enjoying record participation, with 2,300 youngsters signed up to date. During the Week, they can try out numerous sports disciplines free of charge, and sometimes even discover passions or vocations. In addition to introducing sport to young people, Olympic Week also has the aim of promoting the Olympic values, education and development through sport.