Sports / China

Youth Olympics relay provides the perfect mix of sports, fun

By Sun Xiaochen and Cang Wei in Nanjing (China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-28 06:59

The mixed team relay at the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games demonstrated on Tuesday how sport can transcend differences, bring people together and turn strangers into friends.

The 8 x 100m event, included in the youth games for the first time, was contested by teams of male and female athletes from different countries and different track and field disciplines.

More than 500 athletes from all disciplines and a wide range of countries competed in eight-person teams in the 100m back-and-forth relay held on a street track outside the stadium.

 Youth Olympics relay provides the perfect mix of sports, fun

Jamaican shot-putter Vashon McCarthy runs in the men's 8 x 100m mixed relay race at the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games on Tuesday in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. Wei Xiaohao / China Daily

Regardless of nationalities and languages, all the athletes appeared to enjoy the new competition as the sight of bulky throwers running against slim jumpers and sprinters delighted the crowd.

"It's really a fun event," Vashon McCarthy, a well-built shot-putter from Jamaica, said after the race.

"I'm fat, so I picked the last leg," he said, explaining that he did not want his teammates to be alarmed by the spectacle of him hurtling towards them for the baton exchange in an earlier leg.

"I didn't win my leg but I enjoyed gelling with my new mates," he added.

Lamine Diack, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, said the idea of introducing the mixed relay is to encourage the youth of the world to meet and interact.

"It's the spirit of the Youth Olympic Games," he said. "This event is special because you have teams composed of athletes from different countries.

"You have athletes from different disciplines coming together and building bonds with each other."

Athletes had plenty of other opportunities to meet and bond during the 13-day games thanks to a program of 50 cultural and educational events.

The activities included visits to the many museums in Nanjing, a youth festival, tours of the city and new media workshops.

To make sure the athletes had enough time to take part, the federations that govern each sport were required to give them two days off. In addition the competitors were asked to stay in Nanjing until the end of the games even if they had finished their event.

Gilbert Felli, the IOC Olympic Games executive director, said the cultural and educational program helped the young participants to go beyond athletic competition and learn from each other.

"The youth Olympics encourage young people to learn together and try to understand more about sport and the values it embodies," he said.

The games' organizing committee joined forces with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to stage the World Youth Forum on Sport, Culture and Peace alongside the event.

Representatives from around the world, including famous writers, athletes and NGO leaders, shared their experiences and discussed how to enhance the role of youth in preventing violence and achieving peace.

The games' closing ceremony takes place on Thursday evening.

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(China Daily 08/28/2014 page3)

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