YOG runs in the family for Australia’s Keely Small
Australian 800m runner Keely Small is aiming to follow in the footsteps of her cousin Greta and use the YOG as a stepping stone to the Olympic Games.
Keely Small has big goals for her YOG experience in Buenos Aires, with the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 firmly in her sights. But she knows exactly what it takes to achieve such lofty targets thanks to her cousin, Alpine skier Greta Small, who competed at the Winter YOG Innsbruck 2012 before skiing at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018.
Here, Keely – who was the Australian flagbearer at the Buenos Aires 2018 Opening Ceremony – tells us what advice Greta gave and how much she has been enjoying her YOG experience so far…
Q. What was it like to be the Australian flagbearer for the Opening Ceremony?
A. It was an awesome honour to represent the 88 athletes that we have on our Australian team. To walk across that stage felt amazing. I was a little bit nervous at the start, especially seeing how many people there were in the crowd, but it was so exciting and such an honour.
Q. How would you describe your YOG experience so far?
A. The experience has been awesome. Just being around the Village is so much fun; it’s a great atmosphere and I think it really showcases the Olympic spirit. It’s been great to swap pins with athletes from all over the world and learn about their countries and what events they do. I’ve met lots of people, I’ve been able to do a few of the activities in-between training, and just going around the Village has been really great.
Q. How are you feeling ahead of your event?
A. Training has been going well so I’m feeling pretty confident. I’m definitely trying to get into competition mode now. I’ve been setting times that show that I’m ready to run fast, so that’s really exciting. I feel like I’ve settled into the Village and got used to the atmosphere, so I’m really looking forward to racing.
Q. What do you hope to learn from your YOG experience?
A. This is such an amazing opportunity to compete against the best young athletes from across the world. Even just being in the Village and meeting other people is really exciting. I experienced that at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year as well and I really enjoy that part of multi-sport events. It’s great to meet people from other sports, so I was really excited when I made the Australian team.
Q. Your cousin competed at the Winter YOG Innsbruck 2012 and was the Australian flagbearer as well. What advice did she give you about competing on this stage?
A. It’s pretty cool that we were both flagbearers and we’re from the same family. She mainly just told me to take the whole experience in and make sure I meet lots of people. She’s still friends with people who she met at the YOG, so she told me to enjoy that international experience.
Q. Since competing in the YOG, Greta has gone on to compete in two editions of the Olympic Winter Games. Have you been inspired by her achievements?
A. I’ve definitely been inspired by her, just by being around her and hearing about all her experiences. The Olympic Games is a massive goal of mine and hopefully I can make it to Tokyo 2020. The YOG can be a massive stepping stone towards that, getting the experience of what it’s like to compete with an Olympic atmosphere. I really think I can take a lot from this experience and hopefully make that Tokyo 2020 team.