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  • Spectacular Opening Ceremony welcomes Australians to Buenos Aires YOG


    Australians have been welcomed to Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympics with a spectacular Opening Ceremony in front of an estimated 250 000 crowd.

    The 88-strong Australian team, led by flagbearer Keely Small, joined 4000 young athletes from over 200 countries to participate in a unique Olympic experience.

    Buenos Aires did away with a traditional stadium setting and instead opened the widest avenue in the world - Avenida 9 de Julio - to over 250,000 people, welcoming them with street party-style celebrations centered around the iconic Obelisk monument.

    The city ushered in and celebrated the start of the Games with the Opening Ceremony featuring a giant countdown projected onto the Obelisk and a myriad of fireworks.

    Canberra's Keely Small wasn’t overawed by the occasion or the enormous crowds.

    "It was an awesome feeling to hold the flag representing the Team and country," Small said.

    "We were standing backstage and could see the thousands of people. It was a bit nerve racking but I was excited to walk across the stage for Australia."

    Acrobats spun and danced around the iconic five Olympic rings as they were raised into the air, before six Argentinian athletes guided the Olympic Flag to the main stage.

    In traditional Argentinian style, while tango dancers wowed on the main stage, couples dancing the tango appeared on the balconies of buildings on 9 de Julio Avenue, making the ceremony a spectacle from every angle.

    Finally, the remaining two Olympic Torch bearers burst on to the stage to ignite the Olympic flame. The torch was lit by Paula Pareto (Judo) and Santiago Lange (Sailing) - one man and one women to signify the first gender equal Games in Olympic history.

    "The Opening Ceremony itself was amazing and was very entertaining as it incorporated all sports and really demonstrated the Olympic Spirit and what the Games are about," Small said.

    Olympic champion pentathlete Chloe Esposito, in Buenos Aires as a team mentor, was excited after missing out on the Rio Opening Ceremony.

    "Tonight was fantastic because I didn't get to walk in Rio as I was at a training camp in Mexico, so it is an experience I'll never forget," said Esposito.

    "The best part was seeing all the young athletes' faces and how excited they were to be there.

    "It also made me realise how much I love being an athlete and makes me want to get to Tokyo 2020 even more!"

    With one big job done, Small is ready to focus on her main job for the Games.

    "The plan from now is to fully get into competition mode and focus on competing to the best of my ability," she said.

    "I'm feeling great and I am happy with where I am at in training and my mindset is strong. I'm really looking forward to the coming days of competition and competing in the green and gold. I am competing on the 11th and 14th in the 800m against a strong field of athletes."

    Competition starts Sunday morning . The Men's 10m Air Rifle shooting will be the first medal event of the Games, with Australia's own Alex Hoberg in medal contention.