A day in the life of… Athlete Role Model Nuno Merino

08 May 2019

In the second part of our series looking behind the scenes at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG), olympic.org speaks to Portugal’s Olympic trampolinist Nuno Merino about his role as one of the 64 Athlete Role Models (ARMs) selected by the IOC for the YOG Buenos Aires 2018.

Second stint

“Buenos Aires was my second time as an ARM after I was chosen for Nanjing in 2014. The International Gymnastics Federation [FIG] asked me whether I would consider taking the role again and my immediate answer was yes. I felt that I could have contributed more to the programme in Nanjing, so it was amazing to have the opportunity to be an ARM for a second time. Four years later, I felt much more comfortable and confident in the role.”

Double shifts

“I spent almost three weeks in Argentina. The original schedule was for two gymnastics ARMs to work in the morning and two more to be on duty in the afternoon. However, we asked if we could merge the activities, working together throughout each day because we wanted to interact with as many athletes as we could. On a typical day, we would be picked up at eight in the morning from the hotel and go to an activity, which could be in the Olympic Village, or we would go to a school. After lunch, we would watch a competition. On some days, we were invited to IOC dinners in the evening, but I would say on an average day we would work in some capacity for 12 hours, maybe more. My personal highlight was when I was asked to help make the draw for the all-around team event.”

Importance of education

“As an ARM, I worked with athletes from different sports, but there were specific times I was involved exclusively with the trampolinists. I really enjoyed interacting with young athletes from the different disciplines because it was an opportunity to inform them about the relevant programmes the IOC are running that most of them do not know about. I believe it is important for future generations to be as well informed as possible.”

Staying in touch

“The main advice I gave the athletes was to stay in contact with each other. After my career was over, the friendships are still here, and I can travel all around the world and connect with current or former athletes. These are the friends I was able to make throughout the years I competed and people I’ll never forget.”

Talking safeguarding

“Doping was an issue which we discussed at length with the young athletes in 2014 and again in Buenos Aires. But we also placed huge importance on educating them about abuse. The world is waking up to what is acceptable and not acceptable, and this needs to be passed on to the younger generation. They need to have this information so that years from now they don’t look back and think they shouldn’t have been treated in a certain way. As former athletes, we want everyone to be safe and to be able to pursue their careers without hazing, bullying or anything that can influence these young people in a negative way.”

YOG evolution

“I think Buenos Aires was a more ‘complete’ edition of the Games than Nanjing because there were more activities on offer compared to 2014. There was more happening outside the Olympic Village. This made the role of the ARMs more important because we went into local schools and it gave us the opportunity to talk to children who didn’t do sporting activities regularly. The quality of the facilities in Argentina was superb and made it feel more like ‘real’ Olympic Games.”

See you in Senegal

“I would love to be an ARM at the YOG in Dakar in 2022 if I was given that opportunity again. Being an ARM is the experience of a lifetime. To be able to tell your life story to these young athletes and help them avoid mistakes in their careers, especially mistakes we as former athletes have already committed, is a privilege.”

Olympic News YOG
back to top