Seven Olympic and Paralympic sports champions, including British triathlete and Beijing Olympian, Will Clarke, made their way to York yesterday, along with the Olympic Torch, to the Young Ambassador conference at York Race Course.
Over one hundred 14-19 year olds from across the country attended the day after being selected by their schools to become Young Ambassadors, tasked with using London 2012 to inspire other young people in their schools and communities.
The day was led by a team of Olympic and Paralympic Athlete mentors including Paralympian middle distance runner, Tim Prendergast and former Olympic swimmer, Adam Whitehead, as well as a number of experienced Young Ambassadors. The mentors shared their own experiences of what it's like to be part of a Games event and encouraged the Ambassadors to think about how they can make London 2012 relevant to their own communities. A number of experienced Ambassadors also discussed their important role and the ways in which they have made an impact in their schools and communities.
The group of young stars have been acknowledged for the prestigious roles by their schools, having shown exceptional commitment and ability as young leaders or volunteers, to become Young Ambassadors, an initiative presented by adidas, delivered by the Youth Sport Trust and supported by the Department for Education. Central to their mission will be spreading the Olympic and Paralympic values of respect, friendship, personal excellence, courage, determination, inspiration and equality and showing how people can adopt them into their lives.
The aim of the conference is to inspire and motivate the Young Ambassadors through London 2012 and the Olympic and Paralympic values, so that they can then go back to their schools and inspire and motivate other young people.
A World and European U23 triathlon champion 2006, Beijing Olympian and British National Champion 2008 and 2009, Will is no stranger to commitment, perseverance and team work. He shared his experiences of what it takes to be an elite athlete and being involved in an Olympic Games event, the importance of role models and the impact of inspiring others.
Taking time out to inspire the next generation of Olympic hopefuls and volunteers, Will commented: "I'm privileged to be involved in the Young Ambassador programme. Competing at an Olympic Games event is the ultimate achievement and the best feeling to know you have trained hard, pushed yourself and your boundaries and have come out fighting in wining form. It's incredible and has definitely changed me as a person. I admire these young people who are so keen to support and promote the Olympic and Paralympic values, as they are genuine representations of what the Games stand for. I really hope I can use my energy and reflections to help these Young Ambassadors spread that message and ensure London 2012 touches everyone."
Alison Oliver, Director of Sport for the Youth Sport Trust which is responsible for delivering the programme, said: "Our Young Ambassadors programme demonstrates the influence that young people can have as role models with their peers and those younger than themselves. Since the initiative launched in 2006, thousands of young people have been recognised by their schools for their ability and exceptional commitment as young leaders or volunteers. With the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games drawing closer, these conferences play a crucial role in encouraging Young Ambassadors to harness their passion for sport and use their energy to make London 2012 relevant to other young people within their own schools and local communities."