Teenage sprinter flies the flag at opening ceremony in Buenos Aires
15-year-old runner Charlotte Afriat appeared at the opening ceremony of the third annual Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires this weekend, flying the Monaco flag with pride. Afriat was one of 206 flag bearers who took part in the extravaganza, as 200,000 spectators watched the excitement unfold on Avenida 9 de Julio in the Argentine capital.
Such ceremonies normally take place inside a stadium, and with La Bombonera (home ground of Boca Juniors) and Estadio Monumental (that of their local rivals River Plate) to choose from, Buenos Aires is not exactly short on options. However, the organisers of the event decided to transplant the action to the city’s main thoroughfare in an attempt to eliminate elitism and allow everyone to partake of the spectacle.
The gamble paid off in spades, as record numbers of spectators flocked to watch proceedings in front of the city’s iconic obelisk. The ceremony lasted almost two hours, with images of national symbols of participating countries projected onto the obelisk itself and tango dancers showing off their skills from neighbouring balconies. The real excitement, of course, came from the parade of national flags, as 206 flag bearers enjoyed their moment in the limelight – including teenage sensation Afriat.
“When it was announced to me in Monaco that I was the flag bearer of the delegation for these Games, I was very happy of course; it was a surprise and I did not expect it. I give my thanks to Prince Albert II and the Monegasque Olympic Committee for the honour and trust they have shown in me,” said a delighted Afriat.
“In my mind, I expected to be marching in a stadium. A few days ago, I learned that it was different, but there was still a lot of emotion. Carrying the flag of his country, for the opening ceremony of these Games, it is already a great and beautiful pride. In front of so many people, it’s just something huge.”
Afriat made headlines earlier this year when she became the youngest athlete to appear at the Mediterranean Games in Tarragona. She is joined at this year’s Youth Olympic Games by four other proud Monegasques: swimmers Emilien Puyo and Claudia Verdino and beach volleyball players Ludovic Palmaro and Olivier Lanteri.