Young Reporter Goes From Nunavut to Singapore

It takes about 13,000 km to get from Nunavut to Singapore. Emily Ridlington made the journey for the chance of a lifetime: reporting at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games.

The Young Reporter program is a new initiative of the International Olympic Committee, where 30 journalists aged 18 to 24 would be chosen to experience an Olympic Games as accredited media, producing articles, photos and broadcasts at Singapore 2010.

Ridlington, 23, from Iqaluit, is passionate about her work: “Journalism is about people, about hearing and telling their stories.”

Halfway through her Youth Olympic experience, she has enjoyed classroom workshops with an impressive lineup of internationally recognized sport journalists, and covered press conferences and sports including swimming and athletics.

The swimming venue is where Ridlington met Iraqi swimmer Ahmed Salam Al-Dulaimi, whose determination has been her favourite story. “He’s 18 and learned how to swim eight years ago in the Tigris River,” she said. “He had to stop training for three years because he couldn’t get to the pool. I think that just embodies what these Games are all about.”

Simply hearing Al-Salaimi’s story was a challenge, as interview required translators. Ridlington’s English questions were translated to Chinese, which was then translated to Arabic for the young swimmer to answer.

Originally from Sackville, N.B., Ridlington enrolled in the Journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa. After graduation, she travelled to Europe and China while working in both journalism and communications, always intending to go back to reporting.

She jumped at the opportunity to move to the arctic and work for the Nunavut News. “If I didn’t go, I would always wonder ‘what if.’ I don’t like living in the world of ‘what if.’ ”

Months earlier, she had submitted her resume and portfolio for a new volunteer opportunity called the Young Reporter program. With only 30 spots available, Ridlington distinguished herself with her passion for the Olympic Movement and love of sport.

“I think the Olympics are an excellent platform for different countries and nationalities, in the context of sport, to forge bonds with each other,” she said.

Just weeks after starting at the Nunavut News, the offer came in to be Canada’s Young Reporter in Singapore. Her employer saw the benefits of the experience and training she would receive and signed off on Ridlington’s trip.

After 36 hours of travel spread out over three days, she arrived and experienced summer in Singapore, with its daily highs in the 30s and high humidity. “It’s quite the change in temperature. Summer in the arctic is very short and maybe gets up to 18 degrees.”

Now she is fully immersed in the atmosphere of the Youth Olympic Village. In the second half of her Singapore stint, she’ll expand her focus to broadcasting and photography.

On August 28th, the last medal will be handed out, the last fireworks will illuminate the Singapore sky and Emily Ridlington will start the long trip home – a stronger reporter and an excited fan of sport.