As part of our ongoing series, we have interviewed members of the European Athletics Young Leaders Youth Team.
They were all nominated by their federations to take part in the most recent Young Leaders Forum in Amsterdam, held in conjunction with the 2016 European Athletics Championships, and are all recognised as potential leaders of our sport in years to come.
The European Athletics Young Leaders Community is a platform for active young and ambitious people who are interested in developing work and life skills, getting involved in community service and making new friends.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Rauno Liitmäe and I come from the small country in northern Europe - Estonia.
First and foremost, I consider myself an athlete. Track and field has been my true love and passion for over 12 years! That is quite a substantial period of time in terms of my age which is now 23. That means I have spent more than half of my life being devoted to this “narrow” field of life. And I will be honest with you, most of that time has not been easy due to the horrendous injuries.
Putting it that way, it doesn’t seem enjoyable or pleasant to anyone. So why am I so persistently still trying to do it? The answer lies in the very nature of the sport itself: it is about putting yourself to the test; always trying to be better than yourself! It teaches the ability to relentlessly keep pushing forward, no matter what life throws at you. These are the qualities you need if you want to succeed in any field - and that is what makes athletics so indispensable.
How did you become involved with the European Athletics Young Leaders Community?
I have helped my Athletics Federation on a voluntary basis. For example, I was the person who put together a booklet presenting Team Estonia at the 2016 European Championships in Amsterdam. They decided to reward me with the chance to represent Estonia in the Young Leaders Forum in Amsterdam.
What is your favourite thing about athletics?
This sport is precisely measurable! Meaning that it is not biased and no-one outside of the field can influence or falsify the results. It is nearly untouched by human error.
Who is your athletics hero and why?
Kevin Mayer. He is an incredibly dedicated and honourable athlete who is also well-mannered and therefore a great role model for younger athletes. His persistence and desire to conquer new heights in each competition makes him a great athlete.
Which areas of the sport are you particularly interested in?
Currently I am most interested in competing and making it to the title races myself. In the future years, I will be more dedicated in event organising, sports management and even media.
If you could change one aspect of the sport, what would you change and why?
I would love to see all athletes from different countries having the same opportunities and training facilities. At this stage, unfortunately, some countries do not even have a proper outdoor track stadium. An indoor track is missing from even more countries. Many athletes do not have the financial support they deserve and a lot of talents are undiscovered or do not make it to the big stage because of the lack of sports managers.
Where do you see yourself within the sport in ten years’ time?
I will probably be done with active competing and hopefully I will have managed to build myself a solid social network around European Athletics in order to break through as a sports manager.
What has been your highlight of Young Leaders so far?
It is no secret that the Amsterdam Young Leaders Forum was one of the highlights not only in terms of the Young Leaders movement, but overall in life as well. It was definitely one of the greatest weeks of my life.