This week’s column comes to you from Kaunas, Lithuania, the host city for the 2017 International Children’s Games.
Actually, by the time you read this I will be back on home soil, but for the past week I have been in Kaunas supporting Team Lake Mac, the 12 swimmers and track and field athletes who represented our City at the Games.
It’s been a hands-on job, too; the swim coach even had me marshalling our swimmers poolside and keeping track of their split times during races.
We had a wonderful week.
Kaunas is not a big city by European standards – at around 300,000 it has half the population again of Lake Macquarie – but it is a very historic place, with a charming ‘old city’ that we had the opportunity to explore.
The Games were a fantastic event, with 1300 young athletes from 88 cities.
Lake Macquarie was the only Australian city represented this year, which made Team Lake Mac quite a novelty.
Our team souvenirs were highly sought after and the kids were madly swapping pins and building up their collections.
The competition was of a very high standard and I am immensely proud of our athletes, many of whom rose to the occasion to post personal best performances.
This is one of the great aspects of the International children’s Games: by giving young athletes exposure to competition on an international stage, it really encourages them to lift to the next level.
We also had the excitement of a gold medal win by Kaitlyn Klein in the 800 metres. Kaitlyn powered home in the final lap to hold off a fast-finishing opponent and win by about 10 metres.
Our kids were wonderful ambassadors for Lake Macquarie and had the time of their lives in the athletes’ village, mixing with other young people from across the world.
They all say they will be going home and telling everyone what a great opportunity it is and encouraging others to participate in future games.
The closing ceremony, like the opening ceremony a week earlier, was a colourful and joyful event that fittingly brought the curtain down on an event celebrating youth, friendship, participation and diversity.
- Picture: 800m winner Kaitlyn Klein takes centre stage at the medal ceremony in Lithuania.
- For more pictures of Team Lake Mac at the Games, visit lakesmail.com.au