We’ve made it. I frankly never thought it would come, but it has.

It’s with great pride, relief, happiness and sadness that I write this post.

The Games have been delivered, and by my measure (I don’t know about you), it’s been a rip-roaring success.

There was so much joy, moments of despair, many dreams realised, many dreams still to be fulfilled, and a whole lot to be thankful for.

With a lump in my throat the size of Sentosa, I would like to thank:

The athletes: For your determination and athleticism that remind us all how pure sports can be and how it can unite us all.

The organising committee and my crew: I’m thankful for the great bosses,colleagues, partners, vendors, and other awesom people I have had the honour of working with, and my amazing New Media team that has hung in there since we started work on this just over 2 years ago. Amanda, Jialin, Kok Siong, Yee Hon, Victor, Nazif and Adeline: You guys rawk. hard.

To the extended family that have come forward to multiply what we’ve been able to deliver during the Games… STARS and volunteers, you don’t know how incredible you’ve been, and how there wouldn’t be a Games without you. I’m proud to have worked beside each and every one of you.

And finally, thank you dear reader for accompanying me on this 100-stop journey. I hope you enjoyed the ride.

flame

This flame may have gone out, but the Singapore 2010 spirit burns on

Don’t stop believing.

Although the majority of people here (and even abroad) now seem to understand the beauty and magic of the Youth Olympics, there might still be others who do not understand or miss the point of Singapore hosting the Games.

But rather than me attempting to explain, I thought it would be better if someone else did it. Particularly someone who sees the benefits first hand. This is an email I received recently, which is fairly lengthy, but fully worth reading.

After a year of  preparation 22 youths from more than 250 finally made it to the Youth Olympic Village as Community Project Facilitators in-charge of Circus Arts.

Dressed in an official purple polo tee and smart khaki pants, these youths conducted themselves respectably as Singapore’s ambassadors to their peers from the rest of the world. We could not help feeling really proud of them as they stretched out their hands to introduce themselves followed by “Where are you from and what’s your sport?” They mingled confidently with the crowd and not for a moment would anyone realize  that they are youths-at-risk who had once gotten into trouble of sorts.

Over the last year, we have been offering  students and youths from residential settings the opportunity to serve as a Community Project Facilitator for the Youth Olympics. Eventually, these 22 gathered from a couple of schools, the Bukit Ho Swee neighbourhood and the Muhammadiyah Welfare Home stuck to the regular training where they reached a level of competency that enables them to instruct others. At the village, they  showed the athletes how to juggle, spin a plate, throw a diablo, lift  devil sticks and swing a poi. In the process they were to reinforce the Olympic values of excellence, respect and friendship.

PM tries it out

It wasn't just athletes that the volunteers taught! :)

The idea of reinforcing the Olympic values sounds real nice but can it really be done?

Here are a couple of exchanges between the athletes and our youths and you decide if the idea succeeded:

A  16 year old Israeli basketball player got our youths thinking what it means to persevere for excellence when he shared that he had lived through 2 wars. When asked how he did it, this 16 year old simply shrugged his shoulders and said that he just focused on what he had control over and that was basketball. Our Muslim youths listened respectfully while encouraging him as he fiddled with the diablo. The basketball player was definitely comfortable in the company of our youths and soon they were laughing and gently teasing each other like a bunch of teenagers hanging out.

Another athlete from Yemen could not speak a word of English but she enthusiastically wanted to try out every skill we were imparting. While enthusiastic she was rather self-conscious about her inability to verbally communicate with our youths but she eased up immediately when one of our youths greeted her with the traditional Muslim greeting  Assalamu Alilkum or may god’s peace, mercy and blessings be with you.  Somehow, despite the differences, our youths found a way to find something similar to reach out to these athletes from different lands. Amidst the falling plates and juggling balls rolling all over the place, excellence, respect and friendship stood their ground.

Perhaps being in the company of champions brought out the champion in our youths. Working alongside them, greeting and speaking with the athletes was Yumilka Ruiz Luaces, a 4 time Olympian who has won 2 gold medals and 1 bronze as the Captain of the Cuban women’s volleyball team. Whatever it was, The Youth Olympics has won over these 22 youths whom a year ago could not imagine playing a role in an international event. They are now glad that they hung on and are now eagerly looking forward to their final round of duty this Sunday.

Three cheers to excellence, respect and friendship!
Gerard

Thank you Gerard, and kudos to your 22 volunteers for making this all worth it.

Having been confined in the Main Media Centre for … god knows how long… I was pretty happy to have couple of hours to escape to the Youth Olympic Village, where I have another team that teaches athletes about useful and (hopefully!) fun social media applications!

social media too

Team Japan at the workshop... again!

It turns out that the Japanese contingent is pretty keen on tech (who knew? :) ) and it was quite encouraging to see Japanese athletes attending the workshop for the fourth consecutive day! Most of them didn’t speak very much English, but that’s ok, because we made sure to have a selection of applications that would come with user interfaces in different langages. Also, we had interpreters to help out. But sometimes, it was just the smiling faces and basic sign language did the job.

brian speaks japanese??

Hmm... so does Brian (right) speak Japanese?

And it wasn’t only athletes who benefited from the experience.

There were a fair number of coaches who came by to take care of the athletes, and ended up picking up tips along the way. One particular story that I learnt about was of a gentleman from Gambia (a coach I believe) who had unsuccessfully attempted to attend the workshop thrice! But by sheer determination, he made it eventually, and the team was happy to guide him on his maiden experience with computers. I think it’s great that the super-savvy trainers and volunteers from Singapore got the chance to interact with people who have very limited or no experience with computers. It’s a wake-up call that not everyone lives on the internet, and that life goes on perfectly fine without being hooked up to your cellphone 24/7.

learning

Ken introduces our eager learner to the Singapore 2010 website (great website btw)

The team also had the privilege of meeting some big names who came by…

charmaine

Charmaine Crooks, one of the Athlete Role Models for the YOG

This surprised young lady won the first gold medal of the first ever Youth Olympic Games.

First gold medalist for the Youth Olympic Games

Remember her? :)

Things were going fine in the workshop, so I decided to venture out into the Village for a look. Turns out it really is quite the place to pick up bits of cultural trivia and useful skills if you’re an athlete.

There was this cute press-conference set up to give athletes the feel of a camera staring you down.

presscon

Practising for that big moment where a hundred cameras are focused on you

But in the Village, sometimes the media descends on these young athletes for real…

huang chao

Huang Chao gets to talk to a reporter (and a recorder)

Once in awhile, the young athletes will also get to see how these skills are used by the seasoned professionals…

jingjing

Guo Jing Jing: Diving diva and seasoned celebrity

And of course, I’m a sucker for celebrities…

wilson

Wilson Kipketer, a phenomenal former athlete and man to look up to

Too bad I couldn’t catch Guo Jing Jing in time for a photo. :( Maybe at the next YOG.

village people

Everyone in the Village walks around with a wide smile on their face

It’s amazing how each day whizzes by before I can even pull up the WordPress page to bang out an entry. I foolishly thought that with the Games under way, that I’d have a little more time to catch up on, and finally finish my #100 entries.

WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.

Between waking up and falling asleep with the TV on, the hours are spent updating the website, sending out newsletters, tweeting, facebook-ing, replying emails, and attending meetings.

I’ve even lost track of the days, being at the Main Media Centre every day for almost 3 weeks now.

wrong

As you can see, even this sign to help us keep track of the days has become outdated

But it’s been fun, even if I don’t get out much.

The size of my team has suddenly exploded by about 20 times, and we are overflowing with content! Stories, photos and videos are spilling out of our ears… (See for yourself > Stories > Photos > Videos)

new media ops room

The New Media Lair in full swing (minus the guys slacking off watching TV)

Despite the significantly larger team (we had a small base to begin with, so any increase seems substantial actually), the job doesn’t exactly get very much easier. Depending on how addicted you are to your job (i.e. you don’t want to go home), there are times where you just zonk out at the desk after 1,034,543 hours on the job.

sleeping on the job

WhyOhGee Editor editing in her sleep. (Not!)

But sometimes we get visitors, and we have to wake up…

alexandra visits

Our friend Alexandra from Rio 2016 visits!

Other times, we take a break to remember that there are other moments that we need to celebrate…

vicson's birthday

Birthday boy Vicson & friends (no interns were harmed in the shooting of this photo)

And the happy/sad thing is, all this is almost over. :) :(

As we celebrate sports, youth, and the Olympic values, I’d like to also remind athletes (and anyone who reads this blog) not to forget the people who got us here.

Sponsors, coaches, teachers and most of all, our parents.

Just a couple of nights back, we were watching a young shuttler named Huang Chao play his heart out for good reason.

Huang Chao

Smash from Huang Chao

Huang moved from China to Singapore in search of better opportunities. That night, he was playing in front of his dad, who he had not seen for the past six years. Can’t imagine what might have been going through his mind then. (Read more about Huang Chao)

A couple of days ago, one of the bosses lost his dad, and another colleague lost her grandmother. As we rush through every day during these Games, let’s also be thankful of all these people who got us here. :)

I hope you caught the Opening Ceremony last night. It really, really was quite good. (See the pics in our Flickr album)

teletubbies

Watching the screens in the Main Media Centre... before dashing out for the fireworks!

And from our unique vantage point, we had the benefit of being able to watch the ceremony on the telly, as well as see the pyrotechnics explode above us. Magical.

Olympic rings

Lot of the rings

boom boom pow

Fireworks... always works.

Then, it struck me that we were now officially in “Games time”, something we’ve spoken of (too) many times, but I think it didn’t quite sink in till Vicson started vandalising the sign on the door.

Vandal at work

We're ALMOST there?

done

Here we go...

But despite my flurry of blogposts yesterday, it was still not enough to hit my target of #100. :(

So I am thankful that most of you are merciful and have allowed me to reach my target some time before the end of the Games. Hee.

I told you that the media centre is getting more and more crowded? I really wasn’t kidding.

media workroom

Everyone rushing to file stories a few hours ago

With this many people around, you’re bound to bump into people you know. And I did! And into people I’ve never met before, but have become friends with on Facebook.

Setsuko & Serge

Meet Setsuko and Serge. Setsuko designed the one of the faces of the YOG medal

Setsuko is a talented designer based in Canada, and one of her designs is going to be on the face of every gold, silver and bronze medal that goes home with the athletes. Serge works with her and it was through him that I got introduced to Setsuko and her team via Facebook (where else?). Hope to catch up with them soon.

Immediately after, I met my friends Nicolas and Patrick from the International Olympic Committee, who I’ve been working with for more than two years now (can’t believe it’s been that long!)

Then after, an acquaintance from my days in the media came by. Mr Ace Kindred Chan, photographer and regular Forum contributor. He’s really candid and has no airs about him, and is great with the people he photographs. Way back when I was just starting out in photography, I learnt a lot from how he interacted with his subjects to get the shots he wants.

And all this in under 2 minutes, standing in the middle of the Main Meeting Media Centre. :)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.