Nanjing Young Ambassador Role

As the young ambassador for Team Ireland Leah Ewart’s role throughout the games is to encourage the athletes to participate in the Culture and Education Programme (CEP) which gives them the opportunity to make new friends, to learn about other cultures and backgrounds and to experience the Olympic values.

Furthermore, she is there to help the athletes learn the important skills in an athletes career, share her experiences and most importantly to ensure they make the most of and enjoy this life changing experience!

Chef de Mission Martin Burke said “It’s important for the athletes to have a structured plan for training, competing and relaxing. In consultation with the coaching team our Team HQ and Leah have tried to ensure the athletes enjoy the whole experience as a Youth Olympian”


Here’s a brief update from Leah on her contribution to the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games Ambassador Programme……..

As a group of 104 young ambassadors our first task was to welcome all the athletes during a “Let’s Get Together” event that brought together all the athletes and delegations in the pre-opening ceremony celebration. We performed a traditional Chinese dragon performance. The guys manned the dragons while I attempted to play the Chinese drums with the girls on stage. Despite our lack of rhythm it was very enjoyable and there was a great atmosphere throughout the village.

Louise Shanahan, Roseanna McGuickian, Michaela Walsh,Olivia Mehaffey, and Leah Ewart


When the athletes are not training or competing, and of course with the permission of their coaches, I keep them busy by bringing them to the world cultural village. Each country has an individual booth with information about its culture as well as interactive activities for the athletes to take part in such as arts and crafts, games or quizzes. Each athlete also receives a small gift to bring home as a souvenir. We have all made a visit to the Ireland booth and had the opportunity to send home some postcards. They volunteers running the booth loved having the chance to talk to people from Ireland and had lots of questions.

Team Ireland Booth
Roseanna McGuikian, Michaela Walsh and Louise Shanahan

Other popular activities have been the ‘Healthy Cooking Classes’ where the athletes can learn to make dishes such as frozen yoghurt, lamb kabobs and Chinese dumplings. ‘Music for stress relief’ is another favourite as the athletes can enjoy a relaxing massage while listening to traditional Chinese music. It is no surprise I have brought a lot of the team to this activity!

Team Ireland Relaxing
Christina Desmond, Leah Ewart and Louise Shanahan

Beside the dinning hall is the ‘learn and share’ tent which has numerous IOC activities which cover important topics such as Anti doping, injury prevention and careers in sport. Again these are interactive workshops  so the athletes can have fun, get involved and at the same time learn about very relevant issues. We often visit these stalls before or after food and pick up a few nice gifts on the way.

There are also activities outside of the village the athletes can attend when they have finished competing. They can choose which they would like to attend and I can book them in the their chosen activity. These include ‘Sports lab’ which gives them an opportunity to try new sports such as rock climbing, rollerblading and skateboarding. As the young ambassadors we tested these activities  before hand and had a great day so I have strongly recommended it all the team when they have finished their competitions.

Sports Lab
Leah Ewart at the Sports Lab

Others visits include an excursion to an Eco-friendly school, an adventure treasure hunt trip or a visit to the ancient Nanjing City wall. Now that some of the team Ireland athletes have finished I am looking forward to bringing them to these venues with more strenuous activities and also letting them see Nanjing.


It’s has been a busy few weeks but every enjoyable and I want to continue to make sure the athletes make the most of this opportunity over the next week!

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