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15 January 2020 06:37

2020 Winter Youth Olympics Youth Olympic Games Lausanne

Massey University student at Winter Youth Olympic Games

Israeli alpine skier Noa Szollos, 17, won Israel its first medals in the Winter Youth Olympic Games when she competed in the competition earlier this month in Lausanne, Switzerland. "I couldn't be any prouder," said the Hungarian-born athlete following her bronze medal win in a video posted on Facebook by the Winter Youth Olympic Games. Talking more about her victory, she said, "I hope I made everyone proud at home and … I guess it's a big deal. It's the very first Olympic medal at the winter games, [for either] youth or normal Olympics for Israel, so I think it means a lot." Israel has won a total of nine medals in the Olympic Games; more than half are from judo. Korea's You Young claimed victory and her country's first medal on day four of competition at the Youth Winter Olympic Games in Lausanne, winning gold in the women's single skating.

She stunned from the outset, opening with her trademark triple axel, but ever the perfectionist she said: "I'm happy with my triple axel, but I didn't have a chance to put my triple toe in the second half. In the women's sprint ski mountaineering it was gold for Maria Costa Diez from Spain in what is being described as the "beautiful sport", as huge numbers of competitors completed the race with broad smiles on their faces. The 2020 Winter Youth Olympics are being held in the Olympic capital Lausanne, Switzerland currently. Over 1,800 athletes from more than 75 nations are participating in this event. This is only the third edition of this sports event.

What are the Youth Olympic Games (YOG)? The Youth Olympics is an international multi-sport event organized by the International Olympic Committee. However, apart from being just a sporting event, the Youth Olympics combines sports with culture and education. The educational programmes use a wide range of interactive workshops and activities, whereby athletes get an opportunity to learn about Olympic values, learn and explore about other cultures, improve their training techniques and performances, and develop skills that would help them become the best ambassadors of the sport. Like the Olympic Games, the YOG are held once in four years.

The first summer edition of the games was held in Singapore in August 2010 whereas the first winter edition was held in Innsbruck in Austria in January 2012. Mascot for the 2020 Youth Olympic Games The mascot for the 2020 Youth Olympic Games is Yodli, a hybrid animal that is composed of several Swiss animals that live in the Swiss mountains – a cow, a goat, and a St Bernard dog. Yodli signifies the diversity of the athletes participating in the sporting event. Read more about this unique and interesting sporting event here. The home of the International Olympic Committee is hosting its first Games, when representatives from 79 nations head to Lausanne, Switzerland for the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics.

China has sent 53 competitors to the event as the country looks ahead to Beijing hosting the next Olympic Winter Games in 2022. It is a significant increase from the 23 athletes who represented China at the first two editions of the Winter Youth Olympics, held in Innsbruck, Austria in 2012 and Lillehammer, Norway in 2016. Shuqi Zhang, a 14-year-old ice hockey player from Qiqihar, Heilongjiang Province, come to Lausanne with a dream of taking home the gold for her country. "I feel really honored to be on the Chinese team and to compete here in Lausanne. It's the first time for China to compete here, which proves to be not easy, I feel extremely proud," She said.

"I think the youth Olympics are a great opportunity for young people to get involved in winter sports," Shuqi added. "I believe more people will like ice and snow [because of the games]". After winning gold in speed skating at the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi Russia, Chinese Olympian Hong Zhang is now an ambassador for Beijing 2022. She said she's seen a big increase in interest in sports in general following the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games. "After 2008, the whole country participated in sports. China's medal haul has already begun as Jingyi Wang won silver in the women's 500 meters speed skating, while Zhiwen Xue brought home the bronze in the men's 500 meters speed skating. Also in Lausanne is Quzhen Soulang who came fourth in the women's individual Ski Mountaineering event, a new sport introduced at these games that combines both skiing and mountaineering techniques. All competitors in Lausanne are eager to take the spirit of the Olympic Games back with them for Beijing 2022. Twenty-one-year-old Massey student Zakea Page has achieved his lifelong dream of performing at an Olympic opening ceremony, in Lausanne, Switzerland, at the Winter Youth Olympic Games. Mr Page performed his unique artform, which blends sport and art, in front of thousands at Vaudoise Arena on January 9, 2020 making him the first person to design a Youth Olympic medal and perform at an opening ceremony of a Youth Olympic Games. "My ultimate life ambition has been to perform at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games and hence to be able to achieve that is incredibly humbling," he says. Mr Page won an international competition to design the medal for the Youth Olympic Games in April 2019. As a result, he travelled to Lausanne for the games where he received the gold, silver and bronze medals from the president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach. Sport and Art connection "There's not much between sport and art. Zakea Page in Lausanne, Switzerland (Picture Supplied)