THE 2019 International Children's Games begin in Russia on Tuesday, with 14 young swimmers and track and field athletes representing Lake Macquarie.
The Lake Macquarie athletes were recently guests of honour at a ceremony at Lake Macquarie City Council chambers.
The members of Team Lake Mac attended a reception hosted by mayor Kay Fraser before being introduced and presented with their team kits at the council meeting.
"The International Children's Games is a high-level competition that uses sport to promote cultural awareness and interaction, so our young athletes participate not only as competitors but also as goodwill ambassadors for their city and country," Cr Fraser said.
"Each year we have a great group of kids that make our community so proud.
"It is a wonderful opportunity for them and I'm looking forward to seeing all the smiles on their faces as they compete, all while making new friends, travelling and learning about other cultures."
Head of the delegation, Karen Turner, from the Hunter Academy of Sport, said the Games offered a great experience for emerging athletes.
"All of the competitors are aged between 12 and 15 so it is a rare opportunity for them to represent Australia and Lake Macquarie, as well as gain maturity as an athlete," Ms Turner said.
"This year we have a very talented team of athletes, so there is a lot of excitement around the group, who are all busy with their training and preparation.
"The athletes' village is always a highlight for the kids when they get the chance to mix with competitors from all over the world. But, it's also the rare experience of representing their city and country in the sporting arena that drives their ambition."
As part of the council reception, athlete Caleb Baker made a special presentation to thank Hunter Academy of Sport and council for the opportunity to represent the city and travel to Russia and the city of Ufa.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and one that I will never forget," Caleb said.
"Thank you to Lake Macquarie City Council and Hunter Academy of Sports for this opportunity, I know Team Lake Mac will do the city proud and make so many lasting memories."
The team of swimmers and track and field athletes will participate in the Games from Tuesday, July 9, to Saturday, July 13.
The team members are: Amber Xavier, Brooke Xavier, Jasmine Roberts, Jemma Pollard, Riley Gardner and Cory Vizintin (all athletics); and Chloe Scanlon, Ella Kohl, Rilee Perry, Rylee Jenkinson, Blair Southam, Caleb Baker, Che Van Beek, Nick Caldwell (all swimming).
Team Lake Mac is managed by the Hunter Academy of Sport and will be accompanied by Ms Turner, from the academy, as well as coaches Mavis Godber (athletics) and Ben Jenkinson (swimming).
Cr Fraser will join the team in Russia as the council's representative.
The ICG is the biggest youth multi-sport event in the world.
It is sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee.
Lake Macquarie has been a regular participant in the annual Games since 2008 and, in 2014, became the first Australian city to host the event.
For more information on the 2019 International Children's Games, visit icgufa2019.ru/en/