TORONTO (January 6, 2020) – On Monday, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) named 17-year old curler, Lauren Rajala, as Team Canada’s Opening Ceremony flag bearer for the Youth Olympic Games Lausanne 2020.
Rajala will be accompanied by a Canadian delegation of 78 athletes and 23 coaches in Switzerland. The Games, held from January 9 to 22, will be a completely gender equal event with the same number of male and female athletes competing.
Team Canada will feature athletes ranging from 15-18 years of age. Of the 78 athletes, 24 are from Alberta, 18 from Ontario, 14 from British Columbia, 14 from Quebec, three from Manitoba, two from Yukon and one from Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan.
Rajala, a Garson native, a Greater Sudbury, Ontario community, has seen incredible success in her young career on and off the field of play.
In 2019, she won gold at the under-18 Canada Winter Games as well as at the under-18 Nationals. She is an Ontario Canada Winter Games Trials champion and a Northern Ontario under-18 Provincial champion. Earlier in the year, as part of Team Croisier, she was inducted into the Greater Sudbury Sports Hall of Fame in the Chris Sheridan Family Team of the Year category.
At school, Rajala is an honour roll student and a three-time Lancer Scholar, a title given to those that maintain an 80% or higher average over three years. In addition, she is a three-time curling MVP at school, the Grade 11 Female Athlete of the Year and a member of Student Council and the Eco School Club.
Rajala says she is honoured to be chosen as flag bearer and is looking forward to representing Canada on the world stage.
“I’m still feeling butterflies from getting the phone call about being the flag bearer for Team Canada in Lausanne,” said Rajala. “It’s just such an immense honour to be given this opportunity, and I couldn’t be more grateful. So many people have helped me in my journey, and I wouldn’t be in this position without them. Seeing the Maple Leaf worn by our athletes on television is always a thrill, but to be able to do it myself at the Winter Youth Olympic Games goes beyond my wildest dreams. I’m excited to compete, I’m excited to meet my fellow members of Team Canada, and I’m excited to make memories that will last the rest of my life.”
Team Canada’s Youth Olympic Games flag bearer is selected by a COC Selection Committee that includes Team Canada’s Lausanne 2020 Chef de Mission, Annamay Oldershaw. She believes that Rajala represents all of the values of what it means to be Olympic.
“Lauren embodies what we as Canadians strive to represent when we are on the world stage,” said Oldershaw. “She is a wonderful team member, has had some great success in her curling career so far, she is a dedicated student, and volunteers both at her high school and home club. I am so pleased that she is going to lead our incredible team into the Games.”
Oldershaw, a Beijing 2008 Olympian, says she is looking forward to supporting the team through the unique opportunities offered by the Youth Olympic Games.
“I am most looking forward to connecting with all of these young athletes that I get to support while they work towards achieving their dreams and goals,” she said. “The Youth Olympics is a unique world stage with a focus on not only competition, but also on culture and education.”
“There are a few sports that mix nationalities together, giving the opportunity to compete alongside athletes from other countries. “I think this is a fantastic display of the Olympic Movement and I encourage all Canadians to follow and support our young athletes!”
As the official Lausanne 2020 broadcaster in Canada, CBC/Radio-Canada will provide daily coverage of the Games via the free CBC Gem streaming service as well as cbcsports.ca, radio-canada.ca/sports and the CBC Sports and Radio-Canada Sports apps. News stories, including previews, daily recaps and highlight packages, will also be available on CBC Kids News and Radio-Canada’s MAJ platforms.
Twenty-six years after it was bestowed the title of Olympic Capital, Lausanne will be welcoming the third edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games. This marks the first time the city will host an Olympic competition.
Approximately 1,880 young athletes aged 15-18 will represent more than 80 countries. There will be 16 disciplines across eight sports on the Lausanne 2020 program, including four that will make their Olympic debuts. Ski mountaineering is considered the most radical new sport, while medals will also be awarded for the first time in mixed-nationality 3×3 ice hockey, a women’s doubles competition in luge, and a women’s Nordic combined ski event. The new disciplines are designed reflect both innovation and gender equality.
The Youth Olympic Games are an international Olympic sporting event that combines sports performance, culture and education in an authentic celebration of sport with a festive atmosphere. The aim is to encourage young people to adopt and represent the positive values of sport – respect for others, for themselves and for our environment; friendship between people and cultures; and, excellence in self-giving – and to become sports ambassadors throughout the world.
Story and Photo: Canadian Olympic Committee