Winter Youth Olympics 2012: GB hopefuls leave for Innsbruck
Great Britain's best young athletes jet off to Austria on Wednesday to compete at the first ever Winter Youth Olympic games
Team GB’s best young athletes jet off today to take part in the first ever Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria.
The delegation is led by Chef de Mission Sir Clive Woodward, with 24 of the country’s leading winter sports stars competing in 10 different disciplines during 10 days of competition at the Austrian resort.
Over 1,000 athletes from 60 nations around the world will compete, with Britain represented in Alpine and Freestyle Skiing, Bobsleigh, Ice Hockey, Curling, Short Track and Figure Skating, Biathlon, Cross Country Skiing and Freestyle Snowboarding.
The squad gathered at Gatwick airport on Tuesday for team briefings and an address from Sir Clive, with the athletes buzzing in anticipation.
Freestyle skier Katie Summerhayes, 16, is one of GB’s best medal prospects for the games.
She said: “I’m stoked. Just to be with Team GB is so exciting and getting ready with all the kit was amazing. It’s been the best bit so far! I’ve already been to the gym showing off all my kit.
“The whole Olympic experience will be great. Hanging out with Team GB will be good but I’ll also get to see some friends from other countries who compete in the half pipe and I don’t often get to hang out with them so it’ll be great.
“I think anyone’s dream is to represent their country doing something that they love doing. I get to travel the world with my friends representing Team GB and it can’t really get any better than that.”
As well as competition, athletes can look forward to an educational and cultural programme encouraged to teach them about the Olympic spirit.
Britain’s European Curling champion Eve Muirhead has been appointed as an Athlete Role Model by the International Olympic Committee, but younger brother Thomas is hoping to use the games as a chance to shine in the family limelight.
He said: “It’ll give me the opportunity to steal the spotlight for a bit! Her gold is an inspiration to us and shows that you can do it, even if you’re young.
“We’re very excited to be going. It’s great to have the opportunity to represent Great Britain at such a big event. It’s the first time we’ve played with a mixed team so it’ll be interesting working together and quite challenging, but we’ve trained hard so hopefully it will come together nicely.”
Duncan Menzies will skip the mixed curling team and admitted to some nerves prior to departure, but is confident that GB can hold off the challenge of Canada and Sweden to claim a place on the podium.
He said: “I’ve never been to anything as big as this before so I’m a bit nervous but I’m also very excited. We’d like to play to our best and hopefully and if we do that I think we’ve got a good chance to win.”