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Countries unite for mixed NOC fencing event

2010-08-19 15:04:00 IOC

8/19/2010 - The inaugural YOG in Singapore is bringing young athletes from around the world together like never before – thanks, in part, to the introduction of innovative events, such as the mixed NOC team fencing competition.

Nine continental teams – one African, four European, two from Asia-Oceania and two from the Americas – were formed by placing each continent's highest-ranked competitors from the individual events together. Each team consisted of three male and three female athletes, with epee, sabre and foil fencers equally represented.

The event has been created especially for the YOG, and the concept has gone down well with the participating athletes, who enjoyed the unique experience of representing their continent and competing alongside fencers from other countries.

“It was great,” said Canadian Alanna Goldie, 16, who won bronze with the Americas 1 team. “It was really fun to compete with these people instead of against them and to cheer alongside them. It was a lot of fun.”

Czech Alexander Choupenitch finished fifth as part of the Europe 4 team and agreed that it was an enjoyable experience.

“It's really fun because we speak different languages, and it's good to make new friends,” he said. “It was fantastic.”

Russia's Yana Egorian, who won her second gold of the Games as part of the Europe 1 team, also highlighted the language differences and revealed that she had to overcome some initial communication problems with her new team-mates.

“It was difficult at first because I was the only Russian and the rest of the team were Italians, so there was a bit of a language barrier because I couldn't understand them,” said the 16-year-old, who also enjoyed victory in Cadet Female Individual Sabre. “Eventually we were able to communicate with gestures and it worked out well!”

Richard Hubers, of Germany, was part of the Europe 2 team that claimed silver and revealed that competing alongside other countries was an unforgettable experience.

“We were working together and it was great,” said the 17-year-old, who also picked up the bronze medal in the Cadet Male Individual Sabre. “We will never forget this first mixed team competition because it was great for us.”

American Greg Massialas, who won bronze alongside Goldie, also enjoyed the unique nature of the mixed NOC event.

“It was a neat experience,” said the 16-year-old, who was the silver medallist in the Cadet Male Individual Foil. “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.”

And that, after all, is what the Youth Olympic Games is all about.

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