Sunday, 18 January 2009

AYOF 2009

For the past 4 days, 1550 athletes from 23 countries have been competing against each other in 17 sports in the Australian Youth Olympic Festival. The AYOF is held to give young athletes an opportunity to experience the environment of the Olympic Games, and to discover future Olympic champions. To promote this festival, entries to the sporting events are free. The events are held at various venues around Sydney, but the main venue (which is also the venue closest to where I live) is the Sydney Olympic Park, where two of my favourite ‘artistic’ sports - gymnastics and diving - are held.

I find watching gymnastics live and up close a bit different from watching it on TV. Up close, gymnastics is fast and has a certain rawness to it which I like, and it doesn't have that 'polished' feel that all the slow-mo computerised camera work gives it. It’s amazing to watch when everything works and they manage to do their routines perfectly. But even when things do go wrong, these gymnasts just pick themselves up and do it all over again, as shown by Ben Astley during his practise session.

Of course, there are also moments when things slow down, as shown by Sam Oldham from England :)

Sam is one of the top gymnasts from Britain and won the Silver medal in the Men's Pommel Horse event.

Some of the other events I attended were the women’s gymnastics, diving and athletics (which include the 400m, high jump, long jump, javelin and hurdles). Unfortunately, as wonderful as my tiny camera is, it’s just not sufficient for fast sports photography in indoor lighting. I kind of guessed it wouldn’t be good enough but I don't have a better digital camera so I basically had to make do. As expected, a lot of photos came out either blurred, noisy or underexposed. Such a pity since events like this don’t happen everyday (once every two years, actually). I literally took hundreds of photos but ended up with very few I like, and even those had to be heavily post-processed.

I was hoping the outdoor events would not present any problems as it would be with better light, but unfortunately for me, the time I was at the athletics arena was also when the sky was overcast with rain clouds! Some things are just not within our control :)

In the end, I basically gave up on still photos and starting taking more videos.

And finally, I like the actions of Ben Astley from Australia, who remains cool after his routine right up till the time he walks away from the pommel platform :)

Ben unfortunately just missed out on a medal by getting the 4th place in the Individual All-Around Men’s Final, an amazing accomplishment since his standing was 11th before the competition. All top 3 places went to gymnasts from the UK.

The festival ends today.


Anonymous said...

have you got any photo or some information about Ashley Watson?, the winner of the all round.

Chris in the UK said...

I'm afraid most of my photos of Ashley were under-exposed. Ashley's profile is on the Team GB Olympic site:

I have a vid of Ashley's high bar routine but it's too large to put up here unless I edit it but his vids can be found on YouTube anyway. Hope that helps.