WITH New Year’s celebrations a fading memory and 2020 well and truly with us, the sport media’s attention will swing to the forthcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo. With the opening ceremony on July 24, there are just 193 days left before our athletes have the opportunity to showcase their skills on a global platform.

I read earlier this week of one young girl representing Great Britain in skateboarding, the first time that the event will have been contested at the Olympics. Whether or not skateboarding is an “Olympic sport” is a debate for another time. I was more intrigued to learn about 11-year-old Olympian Sky Brown, who currently lives between Japan and the US. In fact, I had to have a second glance, as I didn’t believe someone so young would even be allowed to participate. However, after consulting the oracle which is Google I found out that there are several young children who have participated in the Olympics.

The youngest recorded was Dimitrios Loundras, who was 10 years old when he competed in the first Summer Olympics of modern times in Athens in 1896. If I am being honest, I am not sure how I feel about this. No matter how much a young person enjoys their sport, performing on the world stage must be a daunting experience.

The worry and stress may take a lasting toll on them, whether they perform to their optimum or not. When reading about Sky she comes across as a very mature young girl who is very focused on her sport. She is also a social media “influencer” with over half a million followers on Instagram, as well as being the youngest athlete with a Nike sponsorship in the world, so obviously she has a good business brain supporting her ambitions.

However, there is a current school of thought that recommends we do not pressure young people into elite performance sport, but allow them time to develop and try other hobbies and pastimes. My thoughts are definitely along those lines.

I can’t predict what the future holds for Sky or other young elite athletes, but I know that you can never get your childhood back, and that is something that we should preserve at all costs.