As two of the most experienced Athlete Role Models attending the first Winter Youth Olympic Games, Ukrainian pole vaulter Sergey Bubka and American Paralympian cross-country skier Bob Balk are bound to be in high demand in Innsbruck. But for these Olympic legends, who also participated in the Athlete Role Model Programme for the first Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore 2010, they insist the experience works both ways.
“I am probably there to teach and bestow wisdom, but it is quite contrary as I learn a lot more from them then they learn from me,” said Bob, a six-time Paralympian and former World Champion.
Sergey, whose incredible 6.14 metre record still stands from 1994, agrees. “For me, meeting these young athletes is not only about speaking and sharing my experiences, it is about listening as well. I’m looking forward to listening to how they live, what they feel, what they dream about and what inspires them.”
With sport playing such a fundamental role in their lives both during and after their sporting, Bob and Sergey know a thing or two about sacrifice in pursuit of their goals and insist there is one fundamental lesson to live by.
“Only do it if you love it! Don’t get distracted by outside pressure but don’t ever quit for the wrong reason either. If you love it find a way to make it happen.”