There is an interesting article on insidethegames around what London 2012 can learn from the events out here in Singapore for the Youth Olympic Games. Indeed, for me one of the most striking things I’ve of observed in the past few days, which includes watching GB’s Jade Jones win Gold in the 55kg Taekwondo and Sarah Milne’s inspirationally hard fought and atmospherically electrifying bronze medal final yesterday, is in fact something so obviously brilliant its amazing that it is not a fundamental part of every games.
The activity in question wasn’t directly a sporting event either, but rather as part of the Culture and Education Programme of the Youth Olympic Games a chance for all the young Singaporean primary school kids who, having just watched either Taekwondo or Wrestling could then come and take part in some coaching in either of those sports – most likely for the first time ever in Singapore. Alongside these activities is also a museum showcasing replica torches from previous Olympics and explaining a little bit of the history and values of the Games. This museum, situated as it is in the International Conference Centre in Singapore, is accessible to members of the public who happen to be passing or who might be visiting the adjacent shopping centre. I’m not aware of this sort of thing being integral to the experience of previous Games but it strikes me as something both so brilliant, and in fact so obvious, that any host Olympic city in future, serious about public engagement and ensuring a legacy for the Games, should consider it mandatory at every venue.
Indeed, I think that given that all the athletes from these competitions will be staying in Singapore for the duration of The Games, it would be great to try and negotiate a situation in future where a few of them, or perhaps all of them, devoted a couple of hours post-competition to come and take part in these coaching activities. This would, I think, be a mutually beneficial situation for them at such a young age to get a taste of coaching others, promoting sport and like some of the other Culture and Education activities such as Community Drumming – serve as an introduction to them of getting involved in community work and social development through sport.
Over the past week of the inaugural Youth Olympic Games there have been many highlights and the final week will doubtless contain many more. But for me, seeing this activity and witnessing the potential for activities such as these to become part of the future of the Olympic Movement is as exciting as witnessing the young sports people who in London 2012 and Rio 2016 will come to embody it.