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The Singapore 2010 Organising Committee unveiled the first Youth Olympic Games mascots on Saturday 21 November 2009: Lyo (pronounced Leo) and Merly.
Lyo is short for “Lion of the Youth Olympics”. A sports lover, he is fun-loving and hopes to inspire young people to keep fit and enjoy sport for life. He symbolises young people’s boundless energy, their determination to live life to the fullest and zeal to strive for excellence.
Merly got her name from “mer” (meaning the sea) and “ly” stands for liveliness and youthfulness. A passionate advocate of environmental protection, Merly believes that everyone has a role to play in working towards a sustainable future. She also wants to encourage young people to play an active role in their communities and promote respect for one another.
From 14 August to 6 September 2009, members of the public had been invited to name the mascots. About 375 entries were received from more than 20 countries. Lyo was named by Sean Pang Yi Wei, while Tung Chi Jun picked the name for Merly. Sean and Chi Jun, both Singaporeans, had the opportunity to be amongst the first to meet Lyo and Merly in person at the unveiling ceremony.
Lyo is a lion cub with a mane as fiery as his passion for life. A boundless bundle of energy, Lyo is always on the go, learning new things and playing sports. His favourite sport is football and he dreams of someday winning an Olympic gold medal with the Young Lions – Singapore’s under-23 football team.
Having lived in a concrete jungle all his life, Lyo is no stranger to people. He likes making friends from all over the world and learning about their different cultures. He is fun-loving and wants to inspire youths to keep fit and enjoy sports for life. Lyo truly has a lion’s heart.
Merlion is a merlion cub who loves exploring the waters around and beyond Singapore. Although merlions are omnivorous by nature, Merlion sticks to a vegetarian diet out of a deep respect for all living things.
Merlion is friendly and a great listener – when she makes a friend, she is a friend for life! Always ready to lend her support to worthy causes, Merlion is especially passionate about environmental issues as many of her friends have fallen ill from pollution. Merlion believes that everyone has a part to play in working towards a sustainable future and is working hard to spread the message one person at a time. Her dream is to become a scientist one day, so that she can find more ways to protect Mother Nature.
Legend has it that a prince spotted a lion on an island a long, long time ago. He decided to call that island ‘Singapura’, which means ‘Lion City’. Today, that island is known as ‘Singapore’ and the lion has become synonymous with Singapore’s national identity.
The merlion is a mythical sea creature that is part lion and part fish. It is inspired by local folklore and Singapore’s fishing village origins.