Badminton stars Nathan Robertson of England and Cheng Wen Hsing of Chinese Taipei have been chosen by the International Olympic Committee as Athlete Role Models (ARMs) for the upcoming Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.
Former World champion Robertson and World Championships bronze medallist Cheng are among 37 Athlete Role Models selected by 28 International Federations whose sports will feature at the 2nd Summer Youth Olympic Games from 16-28 August, 2014. The ARMs will support, mentor and offer advice to the 3,800 young athletes participating at the Games. Athletes will get to interact with the ARMs both at the Youth Olympic Village and during a series of educational activities and workshops focussing on skills development, leading healthy lifestyles, environment, social responsibility and Olympism. Athletes can also hope to pick up valuable lessons from the ‘Chat with Champions’ sessions which will be accessible to audiences worldwide on IOC’s digital platforms. Fans of the Youth Olympic Games can pose their questions directly to the ARMs during informal interactions on the IOC’s social media channels.
BWF President Poul-Erik Høyer, himself an ARM at the Youth Olympic Games 2010, hailed the decision of the IOC in selecting Robertson and Cheng and congratulated the two accomplished players. Both athletes were nominated by the Badminton World Federation (BWF), having shown great dedication and passion for the sport, in addition to a high level of performance. They are also approachable individuals with abundant experience to share with junior players.
Robertson, now retired (right) and best known for his Mixed Doubles gold medal at the BWF World Championships in 2006 and silver medal at the Athens Olympic Games in 2004 (both with Gail Emms), was thrilled to be chosen by the IOC.
“I am very proud to be one of the Athlete Role Models for the Youth Olympic Games 2014,” said the 36-year-old. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to pass down my experience gained from 17 years as a professional player on the world tour to the stars of the next generation. I’m really looking forward to experiencing the YOG myself as it wasn’t around when I was a junior. I am sure it’s going to be amazing for the young athletes.”
Doubles player Cheng Wen Hsing (below) has distinguished herself in Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles. The 32-year-old’s most notable achievements are bronze medal-winning performances at the BWF World Championships 2010 and the Asian Games in Guangzhou the same year.
“I’m excited to be selected as an Athlete Role Model for the Youth Olympic Games. I am looking forward to the experience of interacting with young athletes at Nanjing, especially since the Youth Olympics is an event that is important to me and to the Chinese Taipei Badminton Association,” declared Cheng who was last week busy reaching the Mixed Doubles semi-finals of the Swiss Open with partner, Chen Hung Ling.
When she and Robertson meet in Nanjing it’s Cheng who will have the bragging rights as she and Chen boast a winning 3-1 record versus Robertson and Jenny Wallwork.
Meanwhile, Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission and Olympic silver medallist in fencing, Claudia Bokel, endorsed the initiative, noting: “The Athlete Role Model programme is a unique element of the Youth Olympic Games. The ARMs have so much valuable information to pass on to the younger generation. They will really inspire and empower the athletes long after the Games conclude to not only be great ‘Youth Olympians’, but (also) to share the skills and values learnt at the YOG with their communities and peers.”
* Full list of IOC Athlete Role Models.