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3-6-08

Olympic conference in Malaysia

Participants in the National Olympic Academy in Malaysia included two Iowa State students.

Contacts:

Maura McDermott, kinesiology student, (563) 271-7264, mamac@iastate.edu

Katherine Schloss, kinesiology student, (712) 363-7408, kschloss@iastate.edu

Rich Engelhorn, kinesiology, (515) 294-8131, richarde@iastate.edu

Two ISU kinesiology students represent U.S. at Olympic conference in Malaysia

AMES, Iowa -- Two Iowa State University students were the only American representatives at an international academy on Olympic ideals for young leaders.

Maura McDermott, Delmar, and Katherine Schloss, Spencer, both juniors majoring in kinesiology, attended the week-long National Olympic Academy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with students from 21 countries.

Sponsored by The Olympic Council of Malaysia, the academy included a variety of presentations and discussions related to Olympism. Students worked on team building projects and leadership activities, and attended academic sessions on the Olympic movement to learn about the values and ways of the Olympics.

"The spirit of Olympism applies not only to sports people, but to any human being," McDermott said. "At the academy, we discussed topics like humanism, creativity, Olympic history, as well as how to maintain the original Olympic ideas in today's world."

"The discussions were intense, but educational because I heard perspectives from all over the world," Schloss said. "It was an honor to learn from some of the best."

McDermott and Schloss were chosen on the basis of their leadership skills and application materials, including a paper on the Olympic ideals of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics.

It is the fifth year that two ISU students have attended the academy as part of an ongoing friendship between the kinesiology department and the Olympic Council of Malaysia. In 2003, while working on a U.S. State Department program to develop youth sport programs in Malaysia, ISU Associate Professor Rich Engelhorn met Chua Ah Tok, director of the Malaysian Olympic Academy.

"He thought it would be a good experience for all to have our students participate in their academy sessions," Engelhorn said.

McDermott and Schloss describe their time in Malaysia as "life changing" and "amazing."

"The trip was an indescribable experience," McDermott said. "The diverse culture offered many new learning experiences and opportunities to try new foods and sports, and a completely different way of living. I gained friends and memories to last throughout my lifetime."

Schloss agreed. "The people and the hospitality we experienced were phenomenal," she said.

Based on discussions at the academy, Schloss and a member of the Malaysian National Olympic Academy will start a new project on Para and Special Olympics.

Both students are headed for graduate school. McDermott plans to pursue a Master's of Health Administration while Schloss will continue in a Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Although the sessions at the academy relate to their future careers, the spirit of Olympism applies to everyone, the students said.

"The meaning of Olympism does not involve just sport, but the understanding of human equality, fairness and staying true to humanism in all aspects of life," McDermott said.

"The academy fosters the type of good will sport has always promised to provide," Engelhorn said.

"It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget," Schloss said.

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Quick look

Two Iowa State University students were the only American representatives at an international academy on Olympic ideals for young leaders. Maura McDermott, Delmar, and Katherine Schloss, Spencer, both juniors majoring in kinesiology, attended the week-long National Olympic Academy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with students from 21 countries. Sponsored by The Olympic Council of Malaysia, the academy included a variety of presentations and discussions related to Olympism.

Quote

"The meaning of Olympism does not involve just sport, but the understanding of human equality, fairness and staying true to humanism in all aspects of life."

Maura McDermott
ISU junior