For Nick Newton, it was a last minute decision to enter into the Pierre de Coubertin Award but it was a decision that will now see him travel to Estonia for the Pierre de Coubertin International Youth Forum in August. The week long global youth forum is an opportunity for young athletes to learn about different cultures and the spirit of the Olympic Movement.
We caught up with the young Sunnie Coaster as he prepares for his trip to Estonia.
WPQ: Congratulations Nick on your fantastic achievement, you must be excited about the next couple of weeks?
Nick: Yeah, thanks it was a massive surprise. I’ve been injured for the last month and a half, so I’ve been really focused on school and when I heard about the award, I just put my name in the hat and hoped for the best!
WPQ: Oh wow! So talk us through the Pierre de Coubertin Award process, how do you become a candidate?
NN: Well each school in Queensland can nominate one student in Year 10-12 to be considered for the award. You have to have represented in a minimum of three sports, two of which have to be Olympic sports. Obviously, I play water polo but I also swim and play AFL. You also have to submit a literary or artwork piece to the Olympic Council of Queensland who considers your application.
WPQ: So how many athletes received the Pierre de Coubertin Award?
NN: About 200 athletes were presented with the Award at an Awards Night and from there we had the opportunity to fill out an expression of interest to represent Australia at the Youth Forum. If you’re successful, you have an interview and then it’s decided whether you will get to go to the Forum.
WPQ: So the Youth Forum selection process is a separate activity altogether? So were you expecting to win the opportunity to go to Estonia?
NN: I was really happy to get the Pierre de Coubertin Award, so the trip to Estonia was just an added bonus. When I got the phone call about the interview, I started thinking that if I’ve been given the opportunity to go and prove myself at the interview, it’s a process I should really carry on with. From then on I really started to do more research and took a big interest in the whole process, I made the effort and really went for it. Mum and Dad thought I put in a lot of effort and deserved to get it but you can never really tell, just like anything in sport. We were all really surprised when I was told that I would have the chance to go overseas.
WPQ: There is a bit of time between now and your departure. Is there anything that you need to do in preparation or do you just jump on a plane and arrive in Estonia?
NN: Yeah, there is a fair bit to do before I leave in August. I think when we arrive we will be involved in another competition for the Coubertin Award, which has, I think, eight parts to it. Some of those you can do whilst at home, such as volunteering or support work in sporting events for a minimum number of hours. The other is studying about the Olympics and the values as we will have an exam on that. The other is keeping fit as there will be a number of sports such as, a cross country run, a swim, ball throw, long jump and high jump that count towards the Award. I’m pretty fit for swimming but I’m not the best at running, so I need to get fitter out of the water.
WPQ: The Youth Forum is a global event for young athletes, do you know how many will be joining you from Australia and how many other countries are involved?
NN: We are a group of eight students from across Australia, along with two adults from the Australian and Queensland Olympic Councils. We will be joining similar sized groups from about 20-30 other countries, so it going to be quite a big week long event. I’m really looking forward to meeting all the different countries. I mean I’ve been overseas before representing Australia and on family holidays but this is a great opportunity to meet with different cultures and societies. I’m excited to hear about everyone from Japan, East and West Europe and the Americas.
WPQ: It sounds like an amazing adventure, is there any advice you have for students and athletes who are interested in the Pierre de Coubertin Award in the future?
NN: I would definitely recommend it to anyone who gets the opportunity. I know a lot of people pull out of the overseas trip because they don’t think they are good enough or that they won’t do well over there but it’s more or less getting out of your comfort zone, especially within your sport. I think the one tip that I would give is, get rid of that comfort zone and get into that experimental zone where you stick your neck out and give a go. You might not get there but you never know unless you try. Just stick your name in, put a lot of effort in and just go for it.
WPQ: Fantastic advice Nick, enjoy the trip and best of luck in Estonia.
Nick departs for the Pierre de Courbetin Youth Forum on the 18 August. We wish him all the best on what is set to be a fantastic experience.