Former Namibian sprinter FrankFredericks says he could have wonOlympic gold if he was more "ruthless"during his career. The former WorldChampion, World Record holder andfour-time Olympic silver medallist was speaking to a group of young reporters at the first Youth OlympicGames in Singapore."I was probably thinking of different things whichdidn't give me an advantage," said Fredericks, whenasked what he felt before a race. "I think if I was moreruthless I probably would have won four gold medalsrather than four silver."Fredericks, who is his nation's only Olympicmedallist, acknowledged Olympic gold is the only thing missing from his trophy cabinet."Looking back now it's the only thing I don't have,so it would be nice to have one in the cupboard."But after six years of retirement Fredericks iscontent with his achievements. "I've tried my best. But there's now an opportunityfor another youngster to have that dream of beingNamibia's first gold medallist."Fredericks also hopes to see an African nationhosting an Olympic Games in the near future: "AfterSouth Africa hosted a wonderful and, what I think, a successful FIFA World Cup, I think it shows Africa is ready." (Luke Dufficy, Australia)Asked about her first meeting with fellow pole-vaulting legend SergeyBubka, Yelena Isinbaeva turns into ahyperactive fan, describing in animateddetail how she had once sought a photograph with him in Sydney in 2000. She recountsthis with the Ukranian seated beside her, at the Chat with Champions programme in the Youth OlympicVillage, where the two superstars met YOG athletes."Sacrifices," she said, were her biggest challenge,because "all my young girl's life was sacrificed forsports. And all of you must do it too. You won't lead a normal life like your friends."Her pre-competition routine includes staying alone in her room the night before, not doing anything at all. "I focus on myself. I imagine." She imagines her bestjump. She imagines looking over the bar as if she hascleared it. The three-time IAAF World Athlete of the Yearholds the honour of being the first woman to clear theholy five-metre mark. But it was not all smooth sailing.Last year, Isinbaeva lost twice, including at the WorldChampionships in Berlin. "I cried for two days after the Berlin defeat. I couldn't believe it.""Winning, not so hard. Breaking records, a littleharder. I thought I could do it forever. So I was relaxingand wasn't 100 per cent focused. When I was looking at the new world champion I realised I wanted to be thebest again. I took a break, went out, and did everything I like. I had a lot of ice cream!" Isinbaeva rewrote the pole vault mark to 5.06metres just eleven days later. "There is so much I canachieve. It took a defeat for me to realise this."Many are also intrigued by what she mumbles toherself every time before a jump. But Isinbaeva is keeping mum, calling it "nothing special". She was more forthcoming on her Ambassador role,however: "Make friends and learn about each other'sculture. When you go home, share with others what you learnt here." (Thiam Peng Tan, Singapore) BelowSergey Bubka looks on as Isinbaeva chats with athletes36OLYMPIC REVIEWYOUTH OLYMPIC GAMESUPCLOSEANDPERSONALYOUTH OLYMPIC GAMES YOUNG REPORTERS QUIZZED OLYMPIC LEGENDS FRANKFREDERICKSAND YELENA ISINBAEVAAS PART OF THEIR TRAINING IN SINGAPORE
OLYMPIC REVIEW37YOUTH OLYMPIC GAMESYOUNGAMBASSADORSFLORIAN KOGLER,YOUNG AMBASSADOR FORAUSTRIAERIN KENNEDY, YOUNG AMBASSADOR FOR USAWhat were the highlights of the YOG for you?Some of the things that made the Games such anincredible experience were the team spirit withinTeam Austria, where all the athletes and coachessupported each other and formed friendships to last,and the warm-hearted and welcoming people inSingapore, inviting us to their marvellous city andhosting excellent Games. What else made the YOG special for you?The multicultural atmosphere at the Youth OlympicVillage, where over 200 nations could live next toeach other without any problem, and the activities of the Culture and Education Programme, which tried to help athletes grow and develop. Were there any particular highlights for you?I watched France beat the Cook Islands 58-4 athandball. However, what was remarkable was thatinstead of shouting at each other or losing theirspirits, the underdogs had fun. They were doing sometricks they've learned, interacted with the audienceand never gave up trying. And after the Game wasover, they had a blast in the mixed interview zone. Of course nobody likes to lose. However, if you cantake a bad defeat and still enjoy the game to the max, then you have understood what it is all about.What have you been able to take from the YouthOlympic Games?I came into this role uncertain of what I would be doing. I was uncertain of what I would get out of it. I wasuncertain of many things. I leave the Games now certain. I am certain that my presence at the Games was anexperience of a lifetime. I am certain that I leave theseGames a better person than when I entered. I am certainthat these athletes' lives have changed for the positive.What did you enjoy most about being a YoungAmbassador?I did a lot of different things at the Games, whichincluded logistical and administrative stuff and alsohanging out with athletes and fellow Ambassadors. I enjoyed spending time at competitions and participatingin cultural activities. I spent time getting to know many of our athletes not just as competitors, but as people.Were there any particular highlights for you?Watching Max [Schneider] compete for the gold medal[in judo] still gives me chills. Seeing him counter throwhis opponent and then drop to his knees in pureastonishment that he had just won was incredible. Do you think the YOG succeeded in educating young athletes about culture?In a heartbeat. Ask any athlete that participated in theYOG and ask them what the best part was.Reverberating like a drum you will hear: culture.