Youth Olympic Games: Learn to Aim for Gold

RefME Loves Youth Olympic Games - medals
© Alexander Eriksson/Lillehammer2016

Between your lectures, extracurricular activities, well-planned study sessions and downtime, it can be hard to find time and inspiration for other important things like adopting a healthy, environmentally-friendly lifestyle. But it can be done! Read on to find out how…

As a university student it is easy to lose motivation to stay physically active with increasing workloads and looming deadlines. Likewise, although more students express an interest in and awareness about environmental issues, the numbers are still low when it comes to leading a more sustainable living (Fernández-Manzanal, R., Rodríguez-Barreiro, L. and Carrasquer, J., 2007). In general, there seems to be a lack of large-scale examples that would serve as a motivation and inspiration.

Enter – the Youth Olympic Games (YOG). Although the Olympic Games is probably the best known worldwide sporting event it is the Youth Olympic Games that should be followed closely by students in need of inspiration to be more physically active and environmentally responsible.

Youth Olympic Games - healthy and sustainable living
© Cathrine Dokken / Lillehammer 2016

The Youth Olympic Games (YOG) is the brainchild of the former President of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge. Back in 2007 his idea to start a youth equivalent to the Olympic Games was met with a unanimous approval and so the Youth Olympic Games were born. Lillehammer 2016 in Norway is the 4th event to take place since the inception, previous games taking place in Singapore, Innsbruck and Nanjing. This year’s YOG consist of 70 medal events in 15 Winter sports. There are 1,067 athletes participating from 71 countries.

It is easy to think of the YOG as just ‘mini-Olympics’, but you could not be further from the truth. In many ways it is quite a unique sporting event, nestled under the wings of International Olympic Committee. Unlike the set format of the Olympic Games, YOG constantly add and test new sporting events, depending on the location of the games (International Olympics Committee, 2015). This year that includes a fantastically-named spinoff of bobsleigh – monobob (one person bobsleigh). YOG are also continuing the addition of mixed-gender teams in some of the regular Olympic sporting events. The Olympic Games only recently started introducing mixed-gender participation (inaugurated in Sochi Winter Olympics, 2014), making the YOG an innovator in the field.

RefME loves Youth Olympic Games - sustainable living
© Lillehammer 2016 / Michael Eriksson

In addition to it being a highly-competitive sporting event, the YOG also highlight their focus on personal and cultural development of the participating athletes as well as local youths. They include local youths as staff, young journalists and designers (the official logo and theme was even designed by students!)

The participating athletes have to stay in the Olympic village for the entire duration of the games. The aim is to have them take part in various Learn & Share events together with other athletes, as well as local youths. That is done to promote cultural sensitivity, help them advance in their career and aid in shaping their character to be able to represent the spirit of Olympism, healthy lifestyle and sustainable living.

RefME loves Youth Olympic Games - cultural sensitivity
© Jostein Vedvik/Lillehammer 2016

Another unique aspect that sets the YOG apart from other events of similar nature is their strive to fully participate in the sustainable development movement. In their Vision, Birth and Principles handbook it states that “no new venues should be built to stage the YOG (or only under exceptional circumstances when a legacy benefit can be demonstrated)” (International Olympic Committee, 2015). As a result, Lillehammer 2016 games are held in the venues from the 1994 Olympic Games.

Lillehammer 2016 games are the first event in Norway to achieve ISO20121 certificate of sustainability, meaning that the entire event fully complies with EU sustainability regulations. They have built new environmentally-friendly student apartment buildings to house the participants and this remains as a legacy to be used after the YOG by the students in the area.

As one of the main objectives is to promote healthy living, the Opening Ceremony was powered by the physical activity of school youths in the region – up until the event they were encouraged to exercise – the calories they burned were converted into kWh. The more energy produced – the more awesome the Opening Ceremony, and it was amazing! (you can follow this year’s  games on their official site: Lillehammer 2016 and Twitter for the latest updates).

Youth Olympic Games - sustainable living - Create Tomorrow
© Lillehammer 2016/Jed Leicester for YIS/IOC


Cite This For Me wants to support your success in university not only with our automated citation tool (offering APA format, Harvard referencing and several other styles). Inspired by the positive impact of this incredible event, we will be publishing a series of blog posts on ways to lead a healthy life as a university student. Stay tuned for some of our favourite tips on how to easily incorporate physical activity and healthy, sustainable living into your everyday life!


De Sousa, T.F., Fonseca, S.A. and Barbosa, A.R. (2013) Perceived barriers by university students in relation the leisure-time physical activity. Available at: (Accessed: 15 February 2016).

Fernández-Manzanal, R., Rodríguez-Barreiro, L. and Carrasquer, J. (2007) ‘Evaluation of environmental attitudes: Analysis and results of a scale applied to university students’, Science Education, 91(6), pp. 988–1009. doi: 10.1002/sce.20218.

International Biathlon Union (no date) International Biathlon union / the mixed relay in the Olympic program! Available at: (Accessed: 15 February 2016).

International Olympic Committee (2015) Youth Olympic games – vision, birth and principles. Available at: (Accessed: 12 February 2016).

Scully, D., Kremer, J., Meade, M.M., Graham, R. and Dudgeon, K. (1998) Physical exercise and psychological well being: A critical review. Available at: (Accessed: 12 February 2016).

Wing Kwan, M.Y., Bray, S.R. and Martin Ginis, K.A. (2009) ‘Predicting physical activity of First-Year university students: An application of the theory of planned behavior’, Journal of American College Health, 58(1), pp. 45–55. doi: 10.3200/jach.58.1.45-55.


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