Swimming New Zealand homepage

The start of something extraordinary

Swimmer honoured as flagbearer at Youth Olympic Games

Junior world champion swimmer Gabrielle Fa’amausili has been named flagbearer for the New Zealand team for tonight’s opening of the second Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.

Fa’amausili, 14, will lead the 50-strong New Zealand team in the opening ceremony with the experience already rich for the four-strong Kiwi swim team.

"It's such an honour just to be part of the New Zealand team. To be flag bearer is a double honour” Fa’amausili. "I think we can all achieve something great if we work together and back each other."

The announcement was made at a function held at the New Zealand Club in Nanjing, China attended by NZ Deputy Consulate-General Brian Hewson and around 100 team members and supporters

Fa’amausili and her teammates Bobbi Gichard, Jacob Garrod and Michael Mincham will all march in the opening ceremony before getting straight into the action at the pool tomorrow afternoon (NZ time).

“There was never any thought about not taking part in the opening ceremony,” said coach/manager Brigitte Mahon.

“We want the swimmers to soak up everything they can with this experience. The competition is important but so too is this experience, learning to cope in a different environment, and in an international multisports competition.”

That includes the cultural part of the Youth Olympic village and the chance to rub shoulders not only with athletes from other countries but some of the biggest names in world sport, who share their experiences in regular lecture sessions.

The team has settled well after a five hour bus ride from Shanghai to Nanjing, with Fa’amausili randomly selected for doping control on arrival, her first experience with urine and blood testing.

“This is what elite sport is about at this level and it is a case of rolling with it and learning to cope and get on with it,” Mahon said. “It is all part of the experience and learning.”

All four swimmers are in the pool tomorrow with Gichard and Fa’amausili in the 100m backstroke where they are ranked 15th and 16th fastest respectively, Garrod  who is ranked 24th in the 100m breaststroke and Mincham ranked 12th in the 400m freestyle.

They compete each day until next Thursday and then have time to soak up some of the cultural and education programmes on offer, as well as continuing to train for the upcoming national short course championships on their return.

Kiwis will compete across 15 sports in Nanjing.