The International Olympic Committee named eleven world-class athletes to serve as Athlete Role Models at the Youth Olympic Games Gangwon 2024, among them, Olympic champion British curler Jennifer Dodds and Korea’s Olympian curler Kim Changmin.
The Athlete Role Models are an integral part of the Youth Olympic Games, as they use their knowledge as experienced athletes to help guide the next generation. They will be tasked with sharing their experiences with the young athletes during the Youth Olympic Games and they will also lead sports initiations.
Great Britain’s Olympic champion from the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, Jennifer Dodds, is highly enthusiastic about this opportunity saying, “I’m really honoured and excited to be selected to become an athlete role model. The Youth Olympic Games gives young and talented athletes a taste to what the Olympics is like.
“Like for many of the athletes, this will also be my first Youth Olympic Games and I never had to compete there when I was younger. It’s such an exciting thing to be part of, but I would tell athletes that don’t get selected to not be discouraged.
“I’m looking forward to meeting all the curlers in South Korea in January, for many of them this will be the first time they have competed outside their own country. I was in Gangwon this year for the World Mixed Doubles, and it’s a beautiful place to visit. I spent a lot of time walking along the beach.
“I hope I can help and inspire the next generation of athletes to enjoy the game and reach their full potential.”
Korea’s Kim Changmin, who participated in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on home ice, shares his inspiring journey to the Olympics, saying “Personally, I do not consider myself the most decorated nor most popular of the bunch, however there are few things that I would like to share with the future athletes. I remember my first junior appearance at the World Junior-B Championships. We placed eighth place out of the eight countries. The following year we were fifth, then the following year we were the first, so we got to go to the World Juniors and were placed fourth.
“I remember my first Universiade appearance being placed fifth. Two years later we were fourth, then two more years later we were first.
“You can start to see the pattern. I always started from the bottom. I missed three consecutive opportunities to appear at the Olympics, but eventually I became an Olympian in 2018 and stand as the last champion of the Pacific-Asia Curling Championships.
“Never give up. Never give up on your dream. Never give up on your chances. More importantly, do not miss out on opportunities to make lifelong memories and timeless experiences with your friends. It will be priceless.
“I would like to end it with a quote from my coach, Bob Ursel, ‘Remember all the names of your fellow athletes.’ There was a name I have remembered seven years ago. That kid was just a junior with 13 years of age apart from me. He is now my teammate. You never know when the roads will cross. I will be remembering every single name of you, because someday you will be an Olympian and prove yourself to the whole world.”
More Athlete Role Models for the Youth Olympic Games will be announced in January 2024.