Monday, September 6, 2010

Learning from each other

Hey folks,

So approximately one week after our amazing experience in Singapore has ended, I feel ready to write another blog entry. Apart from the usual physical fatigue after such an event (hours were long and sleep was short), I also experienced this kind of mental fatigue. Experts might call it reverse culture shock - the kind of shock you get when you go back to your culture of origin. Anyways, it was just a little bizarre to be back home after the nearly three weeks in Singapore.

In the following updates to this blog, I would like to write about certain things that will live on from the Games. Those might be more global things (speaking of which: Fergus has written a masterpiece on the YOG and media with an excellent capital model!), however, since I can only speak for myself, those might as well be more personal insights. If you allow, I'd like to be selfish and start with one of these stories.

In Singapore, the Austrian delegation comprised of 16 athletes and my job was to promote the Culture and Education Program (CEP) to them. This particularly meant to tell them about the various activities going on, signing them up for stuff taking place outside the village and actively motivating them to get involved. However, over the course of time, it was interesting to see that we initiated our own education program - by teaching and learning from ourselves!

Let me explain: In our team, we had ten girls and six boys competing in 12 different sports. They came from all Austrian regions and all had made different experiences in their lives. Of course, the CEP was a great initiative to teach them things they would maybe not have such an easy access to if it wasn't for the Games. However, I personally believe that they also hugely profited from being together with their peers and learning from them. And although I can't point my finger at it (after all, we are talking about teenagers, who are not too much into openly showing that they have learned something ;)), I could really see that every single one of them has grown during their time in Singapore.

However, it would be foolish to say that only the athletes have learned something. I personally have to admit that I learned a million new things.

  • From our shooter, I learned how to take defeat like a real champion.
  • From our gymnast, I learned what it means to sacrifice, e.g. by controlling your diet, for your sport.
  • From our canoeist and ringer, I learned how to clench your teeth and go for that medal.
  • From our triathlete, I learned that even after taking a gold medal, the next day starts with another training session
  • From our sailor, I learned what dedication it takes to make it to the top
  • And from our rower I learned the importance of mastering foreign languages.

Bottom line is that in only 18 days, we all made so many valuable experiences, from which we can extensively draw in our futures. I already feel the effects: In Singapore, I realized that also in the future, I want to accompany youngsters on their way to sporting excellence. That's way I will work even harder to finish my education and thus be able to, hopefully, help them even more. I also would love to try out rowing, because I think it's a real fascinating sport, not only because of the great abs it gives you. And last but not least, I restarted working out and playing handball. And guess what: It feels good and rewarding. I might would have done these things even without Singapore, however, it would definitely would not have been with the same motivation and satisfaction.

Unfortunately, I can only talk from my personal experience, since I can not look into anybody else's head (yet). However, I am convinced that my athletes will feel similar effects. Maybe not now, in the immediate aftermath. But they will. And they will realize that their experiences from Singapore will tremendously help them in their future. Not only in sports, but with everything they want to achieve in life.

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