The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Youth Olympic Games 2010, IOC

Recognizing gifted athletes, and giving them opportunities, is just as important as recognizing gifted intellectuals and giving them opportunities, for growth, too. Sadly, many societies (outside of America, which already nurtures the athletically gifted among them), neglect those of athletic ability.

Singapore is one such country. For most of Singapore's history, sports have played little role in society, though some sporting figures have managed to make a career. The reason for this neglect has been a pragmatic one: sports were not regarded as financially rewarding. There was no significant home market for sports and so no high regard was given to those of sporting ability. It was seen as something without real significance. That, however, has begun to change in recent years. Indeed, in the year 2000, Singapore launched a Foreign Sports Talent Scheme (FST) in order to recruit overseas sporting talent, while young, give them residency, and launch them as Singaporean athletes. This was a bid to activate Singapore's sporting scene and place them on the world stage. It has had varying degrees of success and should be the subject of another post, at another time.

Singapore, today, has indicated its intention to hold the first Youth Olympic Games, in Singapore, in 2010. It is one of ten nations bidding for the right to hold this event. The other cities (nations) are: Algiers (Algeria), Athens (Greece), Moscow (Russia), Turin (Italy), Bangkok (Thailand), Guatemala City (Guatemala), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and Poznan (Poland). Bidders have until October 26 to finalize their bids and plans.

The event is, according to Ng Ser Miang, Singapore's International Olympic Committee member, intended to "interest and appeal" to the young. To do so, traditional sports have been shelved or modified. Basketball will make an appearance as a three person game on a half-sized court. There could be beach wrestling. You read that correctly: wrestling on the beach. There will be a sailing event with specially adapted boats, "youth class boats", that cater for the strengths, abilities and limitations of younger athletes. The events are designed for athletes who are 14 to 18 years old.

IOC President Jacques Rogge has indicated that there will be a departure from the nationalism evident at all adult Olympic Games - for no national flags or anthems will be permitted at this one. Only the Olympic flag and Olympic anthem will be played at the medal award ceremony.

Mr. Ng Ser Miang said that the Youth Olympic Games would help educate youth on the core Olympic values of respect, excellence and friendship. He also suggested it could steer competitors away from over-training and doping.

Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) Permanent Secretary Niam Chiang Meng, Chairman of the Singapore 2010 bid committee said that Singapore's good track record in organizing events quickly would help it secure the event. This point is a fair one, since there will only be two and a half years to prepare for the event once the result is announced.

Now, I am happy to hear of this development, for it offers young athletes a new focus to their training and aspirations. It is a long way from childhood to the adult Olympic stage - placing this new stepping stone along the path will allow young athletes to focus themselves and compete against their age-mates and gain some idea of the wisdom of pursuing an adult athletic career once they fully mature.

Not that alone. Allowing young athletes an opportunity to win recognition for their talents, earlier in their careers, may allow them to make better use of the few short years that an athlete can truly say that they are at their best. There will be less wasted time for those athletes who succeed at this junior level. Sponsorship and support could be forthcoming much earlier on. I feel, also, that many more athletes are likely to develop their talents, what with a new arena to focus on and develop their skills for. It is possible that this new IOC initiative could have a wide-ranging impact on the development of athletes around the world. The IOC is to be commended.

The Youth Olympic Games is likely to spur many young athletes to train that bit harder and aspire that bit harder, such that more of them become athletes and win successful careers. The opportunities a win at the Youth Olympic Games could open up, could change their lives so much for the better.

Gift, of all kinds, is precious. Any initiative that is likely to give greater opportunity to the gifted, whatever their gift might be, whether intellectual, athletic, artistic, or other, is to be supported. The very richness and substance of a society depends on offering the best of opportunities to all who might have the gifts to avail themselves of them.

I, for one, will tune in, in 2010, to see the athletes of tomorrow, in their earliest public performances. I wish them - and the IOC - luck in this new endeavour. May it become an established athletic event.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and ten months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and three months, and Tiarnan, twenty months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 3:31 PM 


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