I’ve recently returned from what were the two most incredible weeks of my life. Last year I was humbled to receive a Victorian Pierre de Coubertin award for demonstrating attitude congruous with the Olympic values. Following this, I was honoured to be selected as part of the Australian contingent to the 9th International Youth Olympic Forum in Norway. Countries from across the globe send delegations to this biannual forum where participants compete, discuss, attend lectures and most importantly, make friends.
The most special aspect of this trip had to be the people on it. Having never met the other Australians before, I was extremely nervous upon arriving at Sydney airport. My anxiety quickly dissipated, however, and we quickly grew close. It’s hard for me to explain to people back home how our friendships could have blossomed so strongly in such a short amount of time. I suppose that everyone being so willing to make friends definitely helped.
My experiences with athletics definitely aided me in the competitions held at the forum. I surprised myself, placing first in my 100m heat and second in the cross-country and long jump. I guess I have my wonderful club and coach to thank for that.
Upon leaving the forum many tears were shed and I think it was only then that we realised how close we’d all become. These life-long international friendships testify the ability of sport to break down barriers and promote unity where other institutions cannot.
Following the forum, the Australian delegation flew to Germany for a five day long exchange. There we toured the province of Thüringia. Meeting the German people was great and the towns there are truly picturesque.
Overall, the experience was incredible. I owe a big thanks to the club as I would never have been selected for the award were it not for athletics.