Australian, Angolan and German Olympians bring Olympism to the community for Olympic Day

23 | 6 | 2016

Olympians around the world are coming together to celebrate Olympic Day, teaming up with their National Olympians Associations and National Olympic Committees to encourage people of all ages and abilities to get active and enjoy the many benefits of sport.

In Australia, Olympians have been out in force visiting schools across the country as part of their national Olympic Day celebrations. Guided by the Australian Olympic Education programme, Olympians have been engaging with schoolchildren in order to share their Olympic experiences, offer advice and goal-setting tips, participate in sports activities and highlight the positive impact sport has had on their own lives.

Among the many Olympians participating in the school visits were five-time Olympian, Olympic gold medallist and World Olympians Association (WOA) Executive Committee member Natalie Cook; London 2012 gold medal-winning sprint canoeists Jacob Clear and Ken Wallace; Sydney 2000 modern pentathlete and Australia’s Rio 2016 Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller; Athens 2004 hockey player Karen Robertson; London 2012 bronze medal-winning water polo player Nicola Zagame; London 2012 rowers Phoebe Stanley and Robyn Selby-Smith; Lyn McKenzie, a gold medal-winning swimmer from Mexico City 1968; Beijing 2008 silver medallist and former world champion sailor Glenn Ashby; Beijing 2008 equestrian silver medallist Shane Rose; and double Olympian and Sydney 2000 gold medal-winning equestrian Stuart Tinney.

For a full list of all Australian Olympians and the schools involved in Olympic Day activities please visit the Australian Olympic Education website.

Olympic Beach Volleyball champion and WOA Executive Committee member Natalie Cook, said:

“It is wonderful to see so many of our Olympians, both young and old, take time out to visit schools and speak to the children about their Olympic experiences. To be able to connect with the next generation in such a personal and inspiring way will no doubt have a big impact on our athletes of the future.”

“Olympic Day is an opportunity for the international sporting community to come together and celebrate all that is good about sport and the Olympic Movement, and the important role both play in our society. It also provides Olympians with the perfect platform from which to engage with young people and promote the advantages of leading healthier, more active lives.”

In Angola, the Olympic Athletes Association of Angola (AAOA) partnered with the Angolan Ministry of Health and the Lwini Foundation to raise awareness for sickle cell anaemia, as part of its Olympic Day community outreach programme.

Olympians were joined by the First Lady of the Republic of Angola, Dr Ana Paula dos Santos, and Luisa Baptista, Miss Universe Angola 2016, along with 400 children in the capital city, Luanda. The Olympians used the occasion to promote Olympism and the Olympic values, lead demonstrations in basketball and volleyball and to hand out flyers drawing attention to the disease, which claims the lives of around 10,000 children a year in Angola.

Nádia Cruz, President of the AAOA and four-time Olympic swimmer (Seoul 1988 - Sydney 2000), said:

“Sickle cell anaemia is a deadly illness which cuts short the lives of so many children in Angola each year. The AAOA was keen to celebrate Olympic Day while also drawing attention to the disease and driving home the message that sport can be used as a tool for social good.”

“I was proud to see our Olympian basketball stars Angela Cardoso (London 2012), Joaquim Gomes (Athens 2004 & Beijing 2008), Carlos Almeida (Sydney 2000 to Beijing 2008), Leonel Paulo (Beijing 2008) and Valter Gerson Monteiro (Athens 2004) as well as handballer Anica Neto (Atlanta 1996 to Athens 2004), swimmer Mariana Henriques (London 2012) and canoeist Nelson Henriques (London 2012) volunteering to raise awareness and promote Olympism in the community alongside the First Lady of Angola at this important event.”   

In Germany, more than 3,000 children and young people turned out to celebrate Olympic Day at a mass event in the city of Cologne. Hosted by the German Olympic Academy and supported by the German Olympians Association, young visitors were treated to a diverse, hands-on programme with over 30 sport and recreation activities on offer.

On hand to provide unique insights into the world of Olympic sport were Britta Heidemann, Olympic fencing champion at Beijing 2008 and London 2012 silver medallist; double Olympian and world champion javelin thrower Katharina Molitor; Franziska Leo, a member of the Athens 2004 gold medal-winning German hockey team; Rio 2016 qualified badminton player Karin Schnaase; and triple Olympic trampoline gymnast Henrik Stehlik, who won bronze at Athens 2004.

Christian Breuer, President of the German Olympians Association, said:

“It has been great to see so many young people embrace the Olympic spirit, get active and try new sports at our Olympic Day celebrations. Our Olympians have had a fantastic time helping out and using their position as role models in society to inspire the next generation.”

“With the Rio 2016 Olympic Games around the corner the event took on added festivity this year as Cologne is a sister city of Rio de Janeiro and also hosts the largest Brazilian community in Germany.”

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world are getting active and taking part in Olympic Day activities this year. Across the globe, the Olympic family is celebrating Olympism and promoting the Olympic values to honour the founding of the Olympic movement on 23 June 1894.

The WOA has loved sharing all the inspiring stories our National Olympians Associations have sent us from around the world in our Olympic Day Countdown. It’s not too late to let us know what you’ve been up to.

Tag and share your stories, events and photos on our social platforms: Twitter: @worldolympians or Facebook: @WorldOlympiansAssociation using the hashtag #OlympicDay.

Photo credit: DOA/Maria Schulz