20 Aug 2020
As we mark the 10-year anniversary of the inaugural Youth Olympic Games (YOG), olympic.org looks back at some of the most memorable moments from Singapore 2010.
The YOG burst into life
The first-ever Youth Olympic Games kicked off with a spectacular Opening Ceremony that was held on a floating stage in Marina Bay, with Singapore’s stunning skyline as its backdrop. Featuring around 27,000 spectators and over 7,000 performers, it was one of the largest shows ever staged in the city and included a succession of incredible set pieces. Among the most memorable was the “Monster” segment, which depicted a young boxer fighting a 12-metre tall beast that represented the inner fears that all athletes must overcome to achieve their dreams. It proved to be a stirring prelude to the incredible sporting performances that were produced by young athletes throughout the inaugural YOG.
The first YOG champion is crowned
Japan’s Yuka Sato etched her name into Olympic history on 15 August 2010, as she became the first-ever YOG gold medallist by winning the women’s triathlon. “I feel very, very happy to be the first gold medallist of the Youth Olympic Games,” she said at the time. “When I was on the podium it felt like I was dreaming. Being on the top of the podium made me very proud.”
Mixing it up
Among the most unique features of the inaugural YOG was the introduction of mixed-National Olympic Committee (NOC) events that brought young athletes from around the world together like never before, giving those from different countries the chance to compete alongside each other. The first athletes in Singapore to enjoy this opportunity were those who competed in the mixed-NOC team fencing event. “It was a neat experience,” said American Alex Massialas, who won bronze. “It's cool to compete as Team USA, but on the other hand you get to know other athletes better through this competition, make new friends and really embrace the Olympic spirit.”
The tiny pacific island of Nauru celebrated winning its first-ever medal at any Olympic event when boxer Dj Maaki picked up silver after losing to Puerto Rico’s Emmanuel Rodríguez in the final of the men’s 51kg competition. There were also first Olympic medals for athletes from Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Cambodia, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Jordan and Turkmenistan.
Blazing a trail
Show jumper Dalma Malhas made headlines by becoming the first Saudi Arabian woman to compete in any Olympic event, before claiming the bronze medal in the individual jumping discipline. “I’m very happy that I got the chance to compete and change the way it’s been. I hope that this will be a door that will open many other possibilities for all other Saudi girls,” she said afterwards. “Being the first female from Saudi Arabia makes me happy, but the medal is what I am happier about.”
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3x3 is the magic number
The YOG Singapore 2010 marked the first time that 3x3 basketball had been played on the international stage, and it was China and Serbia who wrote their names into the record books as the inaugural champions of the women’s and men’s events respectively. China had posted a perfect record in the pool stage, beating Brazil, the Czech Republic, Mali and Thailand, before victories over Japan and Canada set up a gold-medal clash with Australia, whom they defeated 33-29. Serbia, meanwhile, stunned the much-fancied USA team in the semi-finals, claiming a dramatic overtime victory, before going on to beat Croatia in the gold-medal match.
Dancing in the rain
A rain delay didn’t stop Daria Gavrilova and Timea Babos from entertaining the crowd at the Kallang Tennis Centre, with the duo turning centre court into a dancefloor as they grooved to the likes of Lady Gaga, Usher and the Black Eyed Peas prior to facing each other in the women’s doubles bronze-medal match. "I don't know how it happened,” said Gavrilova afterwards. “Babos just turned to me and was like, 'You are the only one who will do this. Let's go'. I am going to be playing this girl, but she is also my friend. I've never danced on the court before, and maybe I never will again. The Youth Olympics are so, so cool."
Haiti’s footballers inspire
The Haiti men’s football team made an emotional march to the gold-medal match, eventually losing 5-0 to Bolivia but winning the hearts of the Haitian public, who were still struggling to come to terms with the earthquake that devastated the island in early 2010. “Being at the Games has been an amazing experience,” said Haiti captain Daniel Gedeon at the time. “I think everyone in Haiti is excited by what we've achieved.”
Learning from the best
The YOG’s Culture and Education Programme gave all of the young athletes the chance to learn more about different cultures, as well as topics that would benefit them both on and off the field of play. The “Chat with Champions” proved particularly popular, with Olympic legends such as pole vault gold medallist Yelena Isinbaeva joining athletes for informal Q&A sessions. “I am happy I can help young athletes,” she said. “It’s kind of an inspiration when I see the passion in their eyes – a hungry feeling, they just don’t know what is coming. This inspired me, and I hope it inspires them too. I hope they take these experiences back to their friends at home.”