Its the day of the closing ceremony at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, wrapping up 15 days of village life and competition for the New Zealand athletes.

The team of 50 aged between the age of 14 and 18 came away with six medals, some New Zealand records and countless personal bests from the Youth Olympic Games.

Youth Olympic sailor, Alistair Gifford, 15, Blenheim, said the experience was top quality and the life in the village was a memorable experience. He described one distinct moment, before the opening ceremony when athletes from different countries were chanting out their windows to the village square below.

All the countries were yelling from their rooms and people were dancing in the square, said Gifford. Then we went and did the haka in front of everyone, it was pretty cool.

Kiwi athletes were exposed to different countrys booths and interactive games within the village, as well as the historic monuments and wonders of Nanjing, China.

Athletes explored the Confucius Temple, the Ming City Wall and saw an array of competitions, many of which are new to New Zealand. The variations on the sports, like hockeys 5-a-side and basketballs 3x3, gave spectators a faster paced competition.

The kiwi athletes began competition on Day One and continued right through to the end of the Games, with medals dotted throughout. The first was a silver for triathlete Daniel Hoy in a tight, photo-finish with Ben Dijkstrafrom Great Britain. The two were side by side going in to the last 250 metre sprint, Hoy coming from behind with a burst of speed to cross the line in exactly the same time as Dijkstra.

The gold was awarded to the Brit and silver to Hoy in one of the most exciting races of the Games.

This was followed up with a bronze for Hoy, New Zealands Elizabeth Stannard, and two Australian triathletes, Jake van Stekelenburg and Brittany Dutton, in the mixed international team triathlon. New Zealands athletes anchored the final two legs of the competition and Hoy was able to cross the line with a bronze for the team.

Moving forward to the pool where both Bobbi Gichard and Gabrielle Faamausili won bronze, Gichard in the 100-metre backstroke and Faamausili in the 50-metre backstroke. Faamausili, world Youth record holder in the 50-metre backstroke, said the other swimmers werent just going to give it to me because of her record breaking performance at the World Youth Championships in 2013.

But I though this is good, I need this and hopefully next year i'll come back stronger, she said.

Dylan Schmidt completed a brilliant routine in the mens trampoline, defeating local hero Changxin Liu of China. The two have competed against each other in past competitions, Schmidt often falling short of defeating Liu.

But it was Schmidts day on the trampoline, winning gold with a score of 57.340 to Lius 56.935.

Finally, it was Emily Fraser who won the final medal of New Zealands campaign in the Show Jumping, riding Exilio through three clear rounds. Fraser burst into tears at the end of the jump-off when she saw the three other riders with double clears either knock down rails or ride slower. She focused on clearing the jumps and was able to win gold.

The Youth Olympic Games were established as a way to teach young athletes the values and discipline that are needed to be elite level Olympians. The Culture and Education Programme provided an escape from the pressure of competition and an exchange of culture. Athletes were exposed to the elite level Olympic environment, living in an athletes village, learning how to eat and maintain form when in a different culture, and experiencing the many educational options available for athletes.

Olympic and World Champions came into the village to answer questions in the Chat with Champions hour, held most nights. Lisa Carrington, New Zealands role model representative and Olympic K1 Champion, came to speak to the kiwi athletes in their residence, sharing her experience competing at the elite level.

I can only control me, said Carrington. Its important to focus on the process, not the goals.

This was the second summer Youth Olympic Games, the next to be held in Buenos Aires in 2018. The New Zealand team will leave the village on August 29 and will arrive at Auckland airport on Saturday, August 30 at 5.50am.

Nanjing 2014 Olympic Summer Youth Games
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