Olympic Youth Camp kicks off
By Wang Bo
China Daily Staff Writer
Updated: 2008-08-07 08:37


Four hundred and eighty-one teenagers from 205 countries and regions gathered at the Beijing 101 Middle School for the Olympic Youth Camp (OYC) opening ceremony presided by honorary International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch and BOCOG President Liu Qi.

"I can assure you that you will remember your stay at this camp all your life," Samaranch told the young campers.

"And I can promise you that the Beijing Olympic Games will be the best in Olympic history."

Youngsters from around the world celebrate the opening of the Olympic Youth Camp in Beijing August 6 2008. [China Daily]

Junior representatives from all five continents will get first-hand Olympic experience from the 12-day camp, including attending the opening ceremony, watching matches and visiting the Olympic village.

Romanian camper Mark Stoian said he was thrilled at the thought of the 12 days of camp life that lay ahead.

"I only arrived Wednesday, and already made friends with my Chinese and Czech dorm mates," the 18-year-old said.

Stoian, a junior national shotgun champion, will participate in the 2010 Singapore Olympic Youth Games.

"This is a good, relaxed way of starting my Olympic journey. My ultimate aim is to compete in the 2012 London Games," he told China Daily.

And the camp is perfect compensation for Dona Gales, a 17-year-old backstroke swimmer from Luxembourg, who narrowly missed being selected to represent her country in the Olympics.

"It's OK. I'm still young and making friends as I enjoy camp life is just what I want," she said, adding that going to the Water Cube was her dream.

Besides to see her compatriots competing in the swimming pool, Dona said track and field and volleyball were her favorite sport event.

The camp organizer also provides campers with opportunities to appreciate Chinese culture.

Youngsters get the chance to learn Chinese kungfu, calligraphy and make Chinese dumplings, as well as visit Beijing's famous tourist attractions.

"I will play the guzheng (a zither-like instrument) and demonstrate tai chi for my fellow campers, as these are two brilliant facets of Chinese culture," Shao Heng, a camp member from Beijing, said.

"As a camper from the host city, I will take the chance to introduce the history and culture of my hometown and the changes spurred by the Olympic Games in recent year,"she said.

The Beijing Olympics is the first occasion on which physically challenged campers, ten in total, have been invited to the OYC.

As Xi Yanping, a visually impaired camper said, "This shows respect and care for people with disabilities. I hope more disabled young people will be invited to join the camp in the future."

OYC has been an inalienable part of the Olympic culture, which has been held in almost every Olympic Games since 1952 in Helsinki, Finland.

The idea was originated by Swedish King invited 1,500 Boy Scouts to set up tents near the Olympic Stadium and celebrate the Games in Stockholm in 1912.

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