Rahardja returns to YOG in mentoring role

National fencer Rahardja took part in the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010, when she was a 17-year-old.
National fencer Rahardja took part in the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010, when she was a 17-year-old.

National fencer Rania Rahardja remembers how formative an experience the inaugural Youth Olympic Games (YOG) was for her in 2010, when she was a 17-year-old with just one year of full-time competition.

The two-time 2015 SEA Games bronze medallist is hoping to use her experience to support and inspire Singapore's latest batch of young athletes at next October's Games in Buenos Aires, after she was announced as one of 76 Young Change-makers (YCM) by the International Olympic Committee on Thursday.

"I started fencing only two years before, so 2010 was really memorable for me. I saw a lot of the preparation that went into the Games beforehand and also the Olympic values lived out on such a big stage," said Rahardja yesterday.

"I recently met up in London with my friend from Germany who was my sparring partner then, which shows the power of the friendships made at the Games."

The YCMs are all under 30 years old and include active athletes, sports coaches, students and young professionals.

National sailors Cecilia Low and Sean Lee served in the same capacity at the 2014 and 2010 Games respectively, when the role was known as Young Ambassador.

Rahardja graduated from University College London earlier this year and is now working in the finance sector in London, but does not intend to stop fencing any time soon.

Said the 24-year-old, who was president of the fencing club in her university days: "What I would like to share with the young athletes is the fact that I can continue to compete. I want to show them it's possible to juggle work and studies with sport."

Singapore National Olympic Council secretary-general Chris Chan extended his congratulations to Rahardja and said the organisation was looking forward to working with her.

"We welcome Rania as part of the Team Singapore contingent," he added. "Rania is a passionate young leader who is keen to share her experience with the youth athletes and help them to get the best out of their YOG experience."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 24, 2017, with the headline 'Rahardja returns to YOG in mentoring role'. Print Edition | Subscribe