SPEED SKATING: HENLEY-in-Arden short track speed skater Niall Treacy has spoken of his honour after leading the Great Britain team out at the Opening Ceremony of the Erzurum 2017 European Youth Olympic Festival.
The 16-year-old was chosen after a vote by his fellow British athletes and carried the union flag into the Kazim Karabekir Stadium on Monday evening in front of a capacity crowd.
The Alcester Grammar School pupil, who won overall Under-16 silver at last year’s British Championships, follows in the footsteps of fellow short track speed skater and Head Coach in Erzurum Jon Eley who led Team GB into the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
“It’s a massive honour,” said Treacy. “I didn’t think the rest of the team would vote for me and it’s amazing to know that they’re supporting me.
“Following in what Jon has done and to think it’s the biggest thing that I’ve done in my career is just amazing.
“It’s a huge confidence boost knowing that my team believe in me and it will really help me believe in myself a bit more when I race later in the week.”
The athletes, all aged 15-17 years old, will compete across five of the nine disciplines at Erzurum 2017; alpine skiing, cross country skiing, figure skating, short track speed skating and snowboarding – with the Festival set to run from the February 12th-17.
They will test themselves against Europe’s finest youth winter athletes as the Festival welcomes over 800 competitors from 40 nations for five days of action in Turkey.
Team GB’s Chef de Mission Joe Divall added: “To be voted by your fellow athletes to be Flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony is a huge honour for Niall and great achievement.
“In the short space of time we’ve been together Niall has really represented the Team GB values and there’s great legacy there from what Jon did in Sochi in leading Team GB. For Niall to learn from Jon and represent his team and lead us out tonight will be a great experience.”
With many of the senior Team GB athletes working on the road to the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, European Youth Olympic Festivals play a crucial role in the development of young British athletes and provides a first multi-sport event experience that helps them along the route to achieving their own Olympic dreams.