Day One- Opening ceremonies at the first Youth Olympic Games being held in Singapore were filled with excitement and enthusiasm. Singapore is making good use of its eye-catching waterfront stage (and impressive skyline. Entertainment included fire, fireworks, dancers and dragon drums. The torch arrived in style on a boat across the bay, according to a press release from Africah Harrigan. (Earlier this summer, The Virgin Islands Olympic Committee selected Africah Harrigan to be a good will ambassador for the V.I. at The International Olympic Academy (IOA) located in Olympia, Greece. While in Greece, Africah was trained to be an educator to teach local athletes about the values and goals of the Olympic Movement).
Virgin Islands athlete Bridget Raamussen swam the 50-meter breast and looks forward to competing again on Tuesday, Aug. 17. The Virgin Islands Basketball team had a solid win over South Africa with a score of 28-12.
“The venue is awesome. Two half-court games are going at once. Both games are announced with blaring music in the background. There are 20 girl dancers performing while the teams are warming up. There are five-minute halves with a shot clock of 10 seconds. It is exciting to watch,” said Lynn Reid, a V.I. Olympic Board member.
David Walters, a V.I. athlete, practiced at the track and field competition site this morning, while sailors are gearing up for a practice race.
Day Two –The Youth Olympic Games and the competitions are heating up. The V.I. Basketball Team had another great day, scoring 32 points to the end of the game against the Philippines, with a minute left over to throw. Team members strategically worked together to defeat their opponent, while maintaining the Olympic value of fair play. Coach Jareem Dowling has videotaped the basketball moves of Spain, which is the next team to play against the Virgin Islands. This will be used as a play by play study during practices. Although, the basketball team will not be competing today, athletes will be participating in a free throw contest in the afternoon.
Today, Aug. 17, Bridgette Rasmussen will swim the 100-meter butterfly, and David Walters will swim the 40m butterfly.
Virgin Islands sailors Ian Barrows and Chalis Diaz had a practice race, but because there was no wind, it turned into a drifting match. Races begin tomorrow, Aug. 18.
Day Three – The Virgin Islands athletes are giving it their best shot. Bridget Ramussen swam the 100-meter breaststroke and was first in her heat but did not move on to compete in the finals. Unexpectedly, Ramussen was selected for a random drug test.
Cheers for the Virgin Islands Basketball team for winning the game. Afterwards, basketball player, Javier Martinez was also randomly chosen to take a drug test. On a lighter note, the V.I. basketball team had an opportunity to participate in the free throw shoot, but the activity was disrupted by a heavy thunderstorm.
V.I. sailors finally had a chance to compete. Ian Barrows was over earlier in the first race and was 5th in the second. Chalis Diaz was in the middle of the fleet in both of her races. The sailors are scheduled to race on the Aug. 18, 20, 21, 23 and 25. David Walter ran the 400m, and his first 100m in the race were among the fastest runners, but he was unable to maintain his speed and finished at his best time. Walter took the Olympic Values of friendship, excellence and respect, to a whole new level when he shared a pair of his spikes with a competitor who didn’t have any. His generosity ensured that his opponent had an equal chance to compete in the 400m. At the opening ceremony, Jacque Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, said there is a difference between a champion and a winner. “To win, you merely have to cross the finish line first. To be a champion, you have to inspire the admiration of your physical talent.”
Day – Four The competition at the Youth Olympic Games is fierce. The Virgin Islands Basketball Team played a tough game but still lost 17-11 to Spain. Their next competition will be with Croatia. If the V.I. wins, then they will be automatically moved to the medal round.
Heavy rains delayed and postponed the sailing races causing the team to get home late. However, it is a good thing they have the next day off to relax.
Athletes eagerly embraced the opportunity to meet former pole-vaulting champion Sergey Bubka. He shared his experiences and his wisdom. The Olympic spirit and values in the room were contagious.
Local schools set up booths to teach athletes about the cultural practices of various countries. Thus far, students have learned about Africa and Europe. Coming up next are lessons about North America and the Caribbean. V.I. athletes will also have an opportunity to share their experiences about our U.S. Virgin Islands.
Day Five – The Virgin Islands Basketball Team lost the game to Croatia. However, the entire V.I. delegation cheered and supported the basketball team with high hopes of winning the game against Turkey on Saturday, Aug. 21.
David Walters is expected to run in the 400-meters on Saturday. After his intense training, Walters is also busy formatting the Virgin Islands cultural and educational presentations that he will share with his fellow athletes from around the world. There is also a possibility that he may be the first V.I. athlete to receive the special edition of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Swatch Watch for completion of major activities.
Virgin Islands sailors Ian Barrows and Challis Diaz are racing today (Aug. 20) and Saturday (Aug. 21). The rain did not stop Challis from earning two 12-place finishes out of field of 32.
The Olympic Games in Singapore are not all work and no play; on Saturday the Virgin Islands athletes will satisfy their taste buds with Singapore’s famous chilly crab.
Day Six – On Friday, Aug. 20, Virgin Islands sailors had two races. Ian Barrows came in 2nd and 8th, so with the throw-out, it is now tied for 5th place. Although Challis is not happy with her results, she is still in the middle of the fleet.
David Walter ran his heat in the 400-meters and came in with a time of 52.50 seconds. He earned the Youth Olympic Games Swatch watch.
Virgin Islands Basketball lost in a game against Turkey 31-16. Their next game will be against Egypt. The team also had an opportunity to visit the Virgin Islands booth in the Olympic Village, which was created by a local primary school in Singapore. The athletes distributed Virgin Islands books, pins, hats and bags.
Day Seven – Sailor Ian Barrows finished first today in the Byte CII Dinghy medal race to clinch the first Olympic Gold for the Virgin Islands at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore! Barrows beat the two-time world champion Darren Choy, who was representing Singapore. Germany won Silver and Just Van Anholt of the Netherlands Antilles got the Bronze.
It was an emotional moment for Lynn Reid, board member of the Virgin Islands Olympic Committee, who had tears in her eyes as the Virgin Islands Flags was raised with the V.I. anthem playing in the background. “It was an amazing experience with the whole Virgin Islands team there to support Ian as he sailed in to cheers at the medal ceremony,” said Reid.
Challis Diaz also had a great day, rounding the 1st mark in 2nd place. She was 13th in the medal race.
David Walter had a once in a life time opportunity to meet with Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee to discuss his experiences at the Youth Olympic Games.
The V.I. athletes have a speaking engagement tomorrow, Aug. 25, at a local secondary school. Athletes will share the experiences they have had at the games.
The Youth Olympic Games is an international event that started on Aug. 14 and will end on Aug. 26. Fashioned after the Olympic format, the games will occur every four years for both summer and winter competitions. Athletes between 14-18 years old from around the world can compete.