The new Olympic challenge for young elite athletes

Elsa Kristiansen, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Norway

Theme: Elite performance

Program ID: SYM-04

Presentation: October 3, 2013 8:15 am - 9:30 am

Room: Belle Chasse


The Youth Olympic Games (YOG) is an innovative development of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), targeting youths between 14 and 18. The first YOG was held in Singapore in 2010 (summer) and the second in Innsbruck in 2012 (winter). YOG’s vision is to inspire young athletes to participate in sport and adopt and live by the Olympic values. In addition to the regular competitive program, this new event also includes two new components: First, the Culture and Education Program (CEP), teaching athletes Olympic values and experiences and second, modification is the innovative events created by the different International Federations. This investigation intended to study how the Norwegian Olympic Youth Team experienced the first winter YOG, examining how they balanced the regular competitive program, the Cultural and Education program, and several innovative events. Nine athletes were interviewed. Their experiences and perceptions of stressors differed according to their sports program during the ten days of the Games. The results are presented in three narratives: the curler (extensive competitive program), the biathlete (more balanced program), and the luger (one competition – possible to participate in CEP). Because of the curler’s schedule, YOG was all about competing and trying to get enough rest whenever possible. The biathlete with a balanced program had time to experience all that YOG had to offer, while the luger would have benefitted from additional competition, regular or innovative. In order to cope, different types of social support from coaches, team mates and parents, together with cognitive strategies, were mentioned as important. The athletes’ main goal for YOG is to perform in competition. However, if the IOC wants all the athletes to embrace the cultural learning possibilities offered during the Games, future organizers should balance a cultural-competitive program for all athletes.

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