With 100 days to go until the Youth Olympics, Australia is putting the success of its aspiring athletes in the hands of Madame Butterfly.
Two-time Olympic champion Susie O’Neill plans on instilling some old-fashioned values in the next generation of Australian swimmers.
The Atlanta and Sydney gold medallist is chef de mission of the team of 90 young Australians competing at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, from August 16.
“I’m going to try and instil some values that I was brought up with, which is competing as hard as you can, and representing your country well outside the arena, too,” she said.
“I want to get a great team culture, get all the athletes supporting the others and great team spirit.”
O’Neill’s comments come as her former Olympic teammates Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett, Geoff Huegill and Scott Miller try to conquer their own personal demons.
With 100 days to go, Australia’s Youth Olympic team on Thursday said it has selected 13 athletes to compete in swimming, archery, judo and fencing. The final team makeup for Nanjing will be announced in the middle of June
Among those who have already been selected is 17-year-old swimmer Ami Matsuo.
The HSC student won two silver and a bronze medal in freestyle at this year’s age championships in Brisbane.
The rising star’s progress in the pool has even caught the eye of other countries.
Following Matsuo’s silver medal at the 2013 World Championships, her parent’s native country of Japan approached the Australian-born swimmer with an offer to join its team.
Matsuo turned them down.
She said she wants to represent Australia at many Olympics and hopes the Youth Olympics will cement her progress.
“Nanjing is going to be another stepping stone for me to get more experience, mentally and physically,” the Sydneysider told AAP.
Held every four years for athletes aged between 15 and 18, the Youth Olympics features 28 sports including athletics, diving, tennis, and fencing.
Some athletes have credited the event with helping them improve their ability to train and stay focused.
Before Jessica Fox won silver in canoe/kayak at the London Olympics, she won a gold medal at the inaugural Youth Olympics in Singapore in 2010.
“Going from Singapore to London, I was better prepared and I guess it wasn’t as overwhelming,” said the 19-year-old.
“It provides such a great foundation by letting you experience everything at the Olympic Games (beforehand).”