Wietse VAN ALTEN remembers time as role model at 2010 Youth Olympic Games
Lausanne (SUI) - Tuesday, July 01, 2014
At Singapore 2010, Wietse acted as the first Youth Olympic role model for archery – as well as coaching a young Dutch archer to individual silver.
The Athlete Role Model programme encourages legendary names from the world of sport to support, mentor and offer advice to the athletes that compete at the Youth Olympic Games.
Wietse VAN ALTEN was appointed as the Athlete Role Model for the first Youth Olympic Games at Singapore 2010.
“I was honoured to be asked,” says Wietse. “And I was also there as coach of the Netherlands team.” Dutch recurve archer Rick VAN DEN OEVER took individual silver in the boys’ event, while Maud CUSTERS finished in the girls’ top 16.
“I was the only role model to stay in the village,” Wietse explains his position as head coach put him in a unique position. “I experienced the whole event even more closely, and it was great! Just a more compact version of the senior Summer Olympics.”
A bronze-medal winning Olympian at Sydney 2000 himself, VAN ALTEN is more than qualified to compare the two Games.
“I really had the same impression as a senior Olympics: all the facilities in the village, transport, venues, accreditation, security… it was all there. The only thing that was really different was the average age of the athletes.”
“But, importantly, the way they acted and performed was as true Olympians.”
After losing to Australia’s Simon FAIRWEATHER in the Sydney semifinals, then winning bronze over Magnus PETERSSON of Sweden and suffering an elbow injury in 2001, Wietse returned to the Dutch team for the New York 2003 World Archery Championships.
He came sixth there and won a place at his second Olympic Games. Individually, Athens wasn’t as successful for VAN ALTEN, but he finished fifth with the Dutch recurve men’s team and rose to the number one spot in the world rankings soon afterwards.
In Singapore, Wietse watched VAN DER OEVER win the ranking round and cruise through the head-to-heads before collecting his own (Youth) Olympic silver: “the event was organised in the same professional way as any Olympics, and young archers experienced a high level of competition that definitely had a positive effect on their futures.”
Rick VAN DEN OEVER won team silver at the Belek 2013 worlds last year, while fellow 2010 Games alumni Tatiana SEGINA (RUS) and Ibrahim SABRY (EGY) are regulars on the international circuit.
Mariana AVITIA (MEX), who was beaten to Singapore bronze by SEGINA, won individual bronze at the London 2012 Olympic Games two years later.
There’s no doubt the athletes at Nanjing 2014 have the potential to be just as successful on the senior stage. Brazil’s Marcus DALMEDIA is already considered medal potential for the Rio host nation, if he continues to improve at his current rate.
That’s in the future, and Wietse is happy to reminisce on the past: “VAN DER OEVER’s silver was one of the many highlights from Singapore for me, along with running the Olympic Flame through the streets of Singapore with my fellow role models.”
Five-time Olympian Khatuna LORIG will take up the Athlete Role Model mantle for the upcoming Games in Nanjing. As well as her Barcelona 1992 team bronze, LORIG is famous for teaching archery to actress Jennifer LAWRENCE for her role in The Hunger Games.
“I want to wish Khatuna and everybody competing at the 2014 Youth Olympics the best of luck,” says Wietse, who is now head coach of the Italian Olympic team. “Please do not forget to enjoy every minute of these special Games, because they will be part of your career, and life.”