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IOC members Frankie Fredericks and Yang Yang
Motivation, inspiration at Asian Athletes Forum

12 Jul 2011
Tokyo, Japan: IOC members Frankie Fredericks and Yang Yang captured the passion and emotion of sport and what sport can do to impact society in the opening session of the Asian Athletes Forum in Tokyo on Tuesday afternoon.

Fredericks, a four-time Olympic sprint silver medallist and 200m world champion in 1993, is now Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission and an accomplished speaker and presenter.

In front of a packed hall of 250 athletes, sports officials and media at the Pamir International Convention Centre, the 43-year-old Namibian told of his tough upbringing under apartheid and how combining education with a dream to succeed on the running track had taken him to the top.

The most important thing, he said, was self-motivation. “It must start with you, the athlete,” he told the audience. “You must decide what you are going to do.

“At the beginning of each year 400 of us train to be the champion, but there is only one gold medal, not 10. You must prepare for life after your career.”

He also urged all Olympians to share their experiences, as everyone had a unique tale of motivation to tell, and stressed the need for education to run alongside a sports career.

China’s Yang Yang, who is also a member of the OCA Athletes’ Committee, won five Winter Olympic medals, including two gold, in short-track speed skating, and began her address by offering condolences to the families of victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

She recalled that China had experienced a similar catastrophe with an earthquake in 2008, some three months before the Beijing Olympic Games. “Disaster can only make people more united, more strong,” she said.

Her 23 years of skating and dedication have been rewarded with a high-profile mission with the IOC and OCA. “I have a chance to give back to sport, and I still feel I benefit from sport because I still do things I am passionate about and things I like,” she said.

The Asian Athletes Forum 2011 has been organised by the JOC Athletes' Commission and OCA Athletes' Committee.
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