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NUS and University of Sydney organise What Makes A Young Champion? 2010

10 August 2010

WMAYC: The forum is the brainchild of the Director of Centre for the Mind at University of Sydney Prof Allan Snyder (right)

INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONS: Among the ten accomplished young champions featured at the forum were acclaimed chocolatier Mr Louis Barnett and well-published young writer Ms Caroline Bird
There is no better time to discuss the question of “What Makes A Young Champion?” than when the inaugural Youth Olympics Games is just about to begin. On 6 August 2010, the Youth Olympic Flame arrived at NUS, its first stop in Singapore. In the two days that ensued, NUS and University of Sydney held a youth forum entitled “What Makes A Young Champion?” just before Singapore’s 45th National Day on 9 August 2010.

The brainchild of the Director of Centre for the Mind at University of Sydney Prof Allan Snyder, the forum was first held in 2000 when Sydney hosted the 2000 Olympic Games. The second such forum was held at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in partnership with Peking University; and another forum will be held at the 2012 London Olympic Games in partnership with University College London. In late 2008 when Prof Allan Snyder approached NUS to hold this forum in conjunction with the inaugural Youth Olympic Games to be held in Singapore, NUS readily agreed seeing this as a way of contributing towards the celebration of Singapore 2010.

In a video message aired during the Singapore forum, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong congratulated NUS and University of Sydney in putting together this conference and gave his take on championship. He said: “Championship is not just about outdoing your opponent in a competition. Championship is more than that. It’s about outdoing yourself – setting higher goals of performance and achievement, and exceeding them. It is about pursuing excellence, individually and collectively, in many fields of endeavour, to bring mankind forward.”

Much more was said and discussed about championship in the course of the two-day forum which fired the imagination and provoked the thinking of the 450 secondary and tertiary students in attendance. They had the opportunity to hear Singapore’s Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, who was the Guest-of-Honour, as well as NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan, speak on the topic.

The personal failures and triumphs recounted by Guest Speaker Mr David Lim, who was best known for having led the very first Singapore Everest Expedition in 1998, left a particularly deep impression on his young audience. His message to them was that “If you’re not failing fast enough, you’re not succeeding quickly enough.” To him, “Only when you try hard enough and you fail can you come back stronger and better.”

Another key highlight of the forum was the ten young champions hailing from different parts of the world who were present to share their aspirations and achievements at the forum. The ten outstanding young persons were all high achievers in various fields of expertise. Among them were an award-winning filmmaker, a prolific writer, a social activist, a successful entrepreneur and an acclaimed chocolatier.