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Olympians share their wisdom with Buenos Aires 2018 Team

4 October 2018

BUENOS AIRES 2018: This week, 88 young athletes from all over Australia embarked on their journey to the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games, but not before being mentored and inspired by Olympians Bronte Campbell, Brandon Starc and Jess Thornton. 

Olympic gold medalist, Campbell, Commonwealth Games gold medalist, Starc, and Rio Olympian, Thornton each shared their stories during an interactive session called ‘The Olympic Experience’. 

The Olympic Experience took place during the pre-Games preparation camp, Champ Camp with the three Olympians providing the young athletes an idea of what to expect at a Games, how to deal with setbacks and how to make the most of not only your performance but your experience at a massive multi-sport event. 

Swimming superstar Campbell opened up about her battles with injury and the mental toughness required to overcome and adapt to them. 

“Injuries have been the only set back to ever make me consider giving up swimming, because it is such a hard period to get through,” Campbell shared. 

“I went into Rio 2016 having been injured since the December prior, so had barely been able to swim or train.  

“Going into a competition feeling completely under done and unprepared is a really difficult thing to get your head around,” she continued. 

“But at those Games I was part of the relay team that won gold and broke the world record. I was so proud of not only that, but my 100m freestyle swim after that, where I came fourth. 

“In my 100 m freestyle, I was only 0.5 seconds off my best, so considering what I had gone through in the months prior, injury-wise, it was a massive success for me even though most other people saw it as a failure because they wanted me to win.” 

Olympic Experience

The 24-year-old summed up by saying, 

“When it comes to injuries, you need to realign what your ideas are of success. You can’t come out of months of compromised training and say ‘I’m going to set a new PB’ because that’s not realistic.  

“What is realistic is being adaptable and finding a way around it. There is always another way to do things and you need to be in control of what you define as success.” 

High jumper Starc has just come off his own stellar season, but got his first taste of international success at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games at Singapore 2010, where he bagged both a silver medal and a new PB. 

“My first international trip was Singapore 2010 for the Youth Olympic Games, but I wasn’t first picked,” the recent Diamond League Champion started.  

“I was actually selected in the second round due to other sports dropping out and athletics being granted extra quota. I went in ranked quote low, as at the time my PB was 2.10m. 

“I ended up jumping 2.19m in the final and winning silver but it wasn’t until this year that things really started to take off,” he said, after just last month equaling the two decades-old national high jump record. 

Thornton is another YOG success story. In 2014 she attended the Youth Games in Nanjing where she won gold in the 400m and was chosen as Flag Bearer for the Closing Ceremony.  

She then headed to Rio just two years later as the youngest member of the Australian track and field team, where her and her teammates made it to the final of the 4x400m relay. 

“My experience at the Youth Olympics was amazing, there were hundreds of people joining my family in cheering for me. It was incredible to know that so many people that didn’t know who I was wanted to support me and see me do well. It all gave me a little tear on the podium,” Thornton said. 

“As for Rio, I just took it all in, and having that experience at the Youth Olympics previously really helped calm my nerves, because I could say ‘You know what you’re doing, you’ve done this before’ and with each race the experience becomes better and you’re able to enjoy it more and take it all in.” 

The Australian Youth Olympic Team are currently in Buenos Aires with the Opening Ceremony in just two days’ time. You can follow the Aussie Team’s journey via the Live Stream HERE and keep up to date via our socials. 

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Liana Buratti
olympics.com.au

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