Eileen Gu, a two-time Olympic freestyle skiing champion for China, has been named a global ambassador for the 2024 Winter Youth Olympics opening in South Korea next month.
The organizers of the Winter Youth Olympics in Gangwon Province, on the east coast of the country, announced Wednesday that Gu, 20, will serve as a mentor for young athletes and also use her considerable social media presence to drive up interest in the Jan. 19-Feb. 1 competition.
Gu, 20, won gold medals in the women's big air and halfpipe event at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, becoming the youngest Olympic freestyle skiing champion. She added silver in slopestyle. Gu also competed at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics in Lausanne, Switzerland, where she grabbed gold in big air and halfpipe, and silver in slopestyle.
"It is an honor to be named global ambassador for the Winter Youth Olympic Games Gangwon 2024, as this event and the values it champions align perfectly with the message I hope to spread to young people worldwide: sport is for everyone, regardless of gender, age, ability, geographic location and religion," Gu said in a statement released by the International Olympic Committee.
"My best piece of advice to a young athlete coming to Gangwon 2024 is to relish the experience," she added. "Unlike the Olympics, the Youth Olympic Games only happen once in a young athlete's career. It is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn from and connect with like-minded young people who share similar experiences, values and passions who come from different backgrounds. Be open-minded! Listen and learn, and don't forget to enjoy yourself! I can't wait to see all the amazing performances from the best young athletes around the globe!"
IOC President Thomas Bach hailed Gu's appointment.
"Eileen is an exceptional athlete and an inspiring figure for young people everywhere," he said. "Her role as a global ambassador for the Winter Youth Olympic Games Gangwon 2024 will undoubtedly have a profound impact on aspiring young athletes and will help to further spread the Olympic spirit around the world."
Gangwon, the first host of the Winter Youth Olympics outside Europe, will provide the stage for some 1,900 athletes from 81 countries. Facilities from the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics will be used during the youth event. (Yonhap)