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Memories back then


24 Aug 2013
Nanjing, China: So I near the end of a new adventure. My homecoming draws ever closer. It’s almost time for me to say my last goodbyes to the many people I met, and depart the wonderful land of China. Before I do, I feel that I should share some of my thoughts and glimpses of my experience here with you all. This is also likely to be a long read, so please bear with me. Firstly, I would like to thank the Olympic Council of Asia for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity.

My stay here was one of the best, luxurious, and most definitely memorable. For a first-timer in China, I’m really happy that I’ve been able to visit a place which I’ve never been to before. Looking back on my time here, I believe that being a part of the Asian Youth Games has reignited the flame of my passion for sports. I also take this opportunity to thank my mentor Jeremy Walker, Editor of sports magazine Sporting Asia, for his support and guidance throughout my stay.

If it weren’t for him, I would say that my journalism skills couldn’t have improved vastly since I came here.Thanks to all this, I’m now considering sports reporting as a part-time job or side project. During my stay, I’ve also had my fair share of memorable moments here. One I cherish in particular was meeting the President of the Olympic Council of Asia; His Excellency Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah.

If I were to describe him in short, he was a down-to-earth person, who always remained calm and kept his cool. I was greatly honoured to meet him at the Welcome Party on 15th August, and to be a part of his entourage on the following day. I’m really glad that I was able present souvenirs from Maldives to him at the Official Dinner that night- he was such an inspiring person! That is something that I will never forget, and I hope to meet His Excellency again next year, at Incheon in Korea, during the 17th Asian Games.

Meeting countless people from all walks of life was also something I will surely remember. Over the short course of a week, people who were once strangers to me have become ever closer. Athletes from all across Asia received chances to perform at the Games, and being able to hear from them about their training and play showed me how different we all are.

Team officials, parents and high-ranking members of National Olympic Committees of different nations were also people I faced. Speaking to them about the Games was a most fulfilling experience. The friendliest of volunteers, ranging from university students on summer holiday to the elderly, were also people I’ve met during my time here. In short, I’ve been able to break down barriers, and I’m sure that it will leave a lasting impression on my life.

Another thing I won’t forget easily is the hospitality given to me by the Chinese. They were some of the friendliest, outgoing and respectful people whom I’ve met. I was more than glad to exchange my brooches with the volunteers for wristbands to add to my collection. I’d like to thank them for making my stay here convenient, especially in aiding me in arranging transportation to various competition venues.

When I once ended up at the wrong stadium, they readily helped me to book a car and reach my destination. I also really appreciate their help in interviewing the Chinese gold medalists after the table tennis finals. A special thank you goes out to the manager on duty at Wutaishan Gymnasium on the night of the 19th, for if it was not for his help, I would not have been able to write my second article. We all should learn from them and make our world a better, more merry place.

I would also like to speak of the time I spent with my fellow Youth Reporters. It’s funny how distant we were a week ago, but now I daresay that we’ve become some of the closest of friends. It was truly wonderful meeting you guys and getting to know you all. The enjoyable chats on the field and while travelling definitely made time fly, and the way we helped each other in writing our articles has proven that ethnicity and race don’t matter. In the end, we’re all still human.

As world-famous author and lecturer Helen Keller has quoted, “The best things in life cannot be seen or even touched, but must be felt with the heart.” I really hope that we can keep in touch with each other even after these Games end, and I look forward to meeting you once again in Incheon next year.Lastly, I would like to thank my father, Ahmed Ageel, for being here on this visit with me. Honestly, I don’t know how I could’ve survived so far away from home, if it weren’t for your support.

You were always with me during my mission, every step of the way. You offered me guidance in my most crucial hour, and always watched over me and made sure that I didn’t go astray. I’m so glad that I’ve been able to go on this trip with you, and I believe that it has brought us closer and improved our relationship as father and son. To sum up, thank you so much for everything, dad, and I can’t wait to go to Incheon next year with you.

And so I bring this article to a close, along with my chain of articles for the Asian Youth Games. Nanjing was one of the most beautiful cities which I’ve visited, and it’s sad that I have to depart soon. But as we know, all good things must come to an end. I won’t forget this trip, ever. Maldives, I’m coming home.

By Mohamed DhaniyalAgeel
OCA Young Reporter, Maldives
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