Florence Bell, the 15 year old Sutton Coldfield schoolgirl has been selected to represent Ireland in Alpine Skiing at the inaugural World Youth Winter Olympic Games to be held in Innsbruck from 13th – 23rd January 2012.
Florence is no stranger to International ski racing, having competed this year alone in France, Italy, Austria, Australia and New Zealand.
The prospect of competing in an Olympic Games, however, is something that dreams are made of. When you consider that Ireland, as with the USA, GBR and most other Countries, has only 1 place for a female Alpine Skier it makes Florence’s achievement even greater. Florence will, in fact, be the only athlete of either gender in any discipline in the Games representing Ireland; quite a responsibility at such a tender age. But Florence is taking it in her stride:
“I am so excited to be going to Innsbruck. In Austria, there is such a buzz about the Youth Olympics. The main Winter Olympic Games were held in Innsbruck in 1964 and 1976 so this is the 3rd time for Innsbruck and the flags, count-down clock etc are all over the town. I cannot imagine how amazing it is going to be to walk out in the Opening Ceremony. I feel very honoured to be selected and I will give the races my absolute best.”
At a ceremony to light the Olympic flame, IOC President Jacques Rogge said:
“We … celebrate an exciting new chapter in the history of the Olympic Movement. The inaugural edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games is an opportunity for over 1,000 young athletes to get their first taste of the Olympic experience while taking part in elite competition and an excellent … culture and education program.”
Earlier today Florence’s Mum, Jane , told SportsNewsIreland : “Currently, she is training in Austria and will be moving into the Olympic Village (with all the athletes and officials ) on Thursday in preparation for the opening ceremony on Friday when Florence will be extremely proud to carry the flag for Ireland”.
SportsNewsIreland will keep you uptodate with news of Florence and the main highlights from Innsbruck throughout the competition.