BUENOS AIRES 2018: Australia’s Team for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) has more than doubled in size today as 10 more athletes have been named on the Team.
Five sailors, two rowers and one canoe athlete will hit the Argentinian waters in October as part of Australia’s third YOG Team, joining the eight athletes selected last week.
Male windsurfer Alex Halank (NSW), female windsurfer Hailey Lea (QLD) and mixed Nacra 15 pair of Will Cooley (NSW) and Evie Haseldine (NSW) will compete at the San Isidro Nautical Club, north of the Buenos Aires town centre.
Joining the YOG programme for the first time is the sailing discipline of Kiteboarding. Kiteboarding combines elements of wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing and paragliding into one thrilling discipline.
Perth’s Mani Bisschops will enter the history books as Australia’s first Youth Olympic kiteboarder, after the 18-year-old topped the Oceania Youth Olympic Games Qualifiers in Thailand in March, to secure a quota place for Australia.
Bisschops, who placed 11th overall at the 2018 World Youth Championships, started kiteboarding as a 10-year-old but switched techniques once he found out the Youth Olympics was an option for him.
“While I was on the world tour for hydrofoil kite racing there was talk about kiting becoming an Olympic sport,” Bisschops said.
“They announced the discipline as twin tipping so I had to get different equipment and practice the different course. I was just young enough to give it a go.”
As exciting as the competition will be, Bisschops is looking forward to the whole YOG experience.
“I’m looking forward to being with the other Australian athletes, the food and the kiting of course. The fleets will be smaller and racing more intense.”
Australia will have two rowing representatives in Buenos Aires; Taylor McCarthy-Smith (QLD) in the women’s single scull, and Cormac Kennedy-Leverett (QLD) in the men’s single sculls.
18-year-old McCarthy-Smith changed boats from the double scull to the single scull this year, and was stoked to secure Australia’s Youth Olympic quota at the Oceania qualification event in Vanuatu.
“At the end of 2017 I got a call letting me know I was going over to Vanuatu to try and get a spot for an Australian junior to compete at the Youth Olympic Games in the single, and I knew from then that I wanted to be the one selected and it became a daily goal for me to work towards,” McCarthy-Smith said.
“I am really grateful to have the opportunity as this doesn't come around every year.”
The Brisbane paddler finished 13th in the double sculls at the 2017 Junior World Championships, and is expecting YOG to be just as competitive.
“I think that the YOG will be an amazing experience just like other international competitions. Our race will be over 500m so that is really exciting because I love to sprint and will be different from the World Juniors. But although the racing will be different, I know it will be just as competitive as the World Junior Champs and I look forward to the challenge.”
Waving the flag for Australia in canoe/kayak will be 16-year-old Jenaya Massie (QLD). After first hitting the waves in Surf Life Saving, and with a background in kayak, Massie is well rounded on the water and will compete in both kayak sprint and slalom.
Off the water, Thomas Barns (WA) has been selected as Australia’s sole wrestling athlete in the freestyle discipline, and Ned Middlehurst (VIC) will be the country’s first Youth Olympic Sport Climber.
“It’s pretty special because it will be the first time Sport Climbing will be in the Youth Olympics, so to be selected and to be going is a pretty big privilege and I’m really happy,” Middlehurst said of his Buenos Aires 2018 selection.
“I think the experience I’ll get from it being an Olympic event will probably help me with qualifying for Tokyo, so fingers crossed.”
18 athletes from 9 sports have now been selected for the Australian Youth Olympic Team. Discover more about the Games HERE.
Selected athletes for Buenos Aires 2018
Jenaya Massie (16), Sunshine Coast, QLD
Cormac Kennedy-Leverett (18), Gold Coast, QLD
Taylor McCarthy-Smith (18), Brisbane, QLD
Mani Bisschops (18), Perth, WA
Will Cooley (16), Kensington, NSW
Evie Haseldine (15), Ashfield, NSW
Alex Halank (16), St Georges Basin, NSW
Hailey Lea (17), Sunshine Coast, QLD
Ned Middlehurst (17), Bittern, VIC
Wrestling - freestyle
Thomas Barns (17), Perth, WA