American Duo Ready For Youth Olympic Games

By Bill Kellick | Oct. 05, 2018, 3:15 p.m. (ET)

(October 5, 2018) -- U.S. Junior National Team members Sharif Salim (Redondo Beach, Calif.) and Anastasija Zolotic (Largo, Fla.) are among the 87-member U.S. Youth Olympic Team that will compete at the Summer Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 from Oct. 6-18 in Argentina. The 12-day competition for athletes between the ages of 15 and 18 will feature 32 sports and 36 disciplines. More than 4,000 athletes from 206 nations are expected to participate.

“I am most looking forward to the venue and the atmosphere with all of the best athletes in the world,” said Zolotic who will be making her first trip to Argentina. “I am also looking forward to making new friends and having a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The Youth Olympic Games are an international multi-sport event held every two years, consistent with the current format of the Olympic Games. A hallmark of the event is a unique culture and education program – Learn & Share – that is designed to equip athletes with the skills they need to succeed in sports and in their daily lives.

“Besides competing and going for gold, I think I am most looking forward to being able to meet other world-class athletes and watch them compete,” added Salim, who is also making his first venture to Argentina.

Sharif and Zolotic punched their tickets to Buenos Aires in April at the World Taekwondo Youth Olympic Games Qualification Tournament in Hammamet, Tunisia. Zolotic won six straight matches to capture the gold medal in the women’s -49kg division, while Salim reached the quarterfinals of the men’s -48kg bracket that saw the top eight in each weight division qualify for the Youth Olympic Games.

Five days later, Zolotic became a junior world champion by winning the gold medal in the -52kg division. It was the first junior world championship gold for Team USA since 2014.

Asked about her chances at repeating her performance in Buenos Aires, Zolotic was optimistic.

“I think since at the qualification I won gold, I am more confident in medaling at the Youth Olympic Games,” she said.

Both Salim and Zolotic will have a bevy of family members in the stands cheering them on, including Zolotic’s uncle who is traveling all the way from Austria.

Salim’s competition in the men’s -48kg division takes place on Sunday, Oct. 7, while Zolotic takes to the ring the following day, Monday, Oct. 8, in the women’s -49kg class.

Coverage of the 2018 U.S. Youth Olympic Team can be found at TeamUSA.org/BuenosAires2018 and on Team USA’s social channels with the hashtags #GoTeamUSA and #BuenosAires2018.

The Games will be broadcast on Olympic Channel every night, beginning with the Opening Ceremony on Oct. 6. In addition, OlympicChannel.com and the Olympic Channel app will offer a 24/7 channel with live streams, replays and highlights.

Click here to view the complete 2018 U.S. Youth Olympic Team roster.

Buenos Aires 2018 – By the Numbers

  • 4,000 athletes (50 percent male and 50 percent female representation)
  • 206 National Olympic Committees
  • 241 events
  • 32 sports
  • 36 disciplines
  • 800 educational activities
  • 468 sport initiative activities
  • 12 competition days
  • 4 parks
  • 29 competition venues
  • 8,000 volunteers

Team USA Notes

  • The 2018 U.S. Youth Olympic Team includes 87 athletes (47 men, 40 women).
  • Team USA will be competing in 24 disciplines across 21 sports.
  • A total of 28 states are represented (by hometown) on the U.S. roster; California leads with 23 athletes.
  • Team USA includes 55 athletes who speak Spanish.
  • The youngest and oldest members on the team are 14-year-old rhythmic gymnast Elizabeth Kapitonova (Dec. 31, 2003; Brooklyn, New York) and 18-year-old boxer Roma Martinez (Jan. 1, 2000; Houston, Texas). All participating athletes must be between the ages of 15-18 as of Dec. 31, 2018.
  • Pat McCaffery (basketball; Iowa City, Iowa) was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2014 during his freshmen year of high school. He has since won his battle with the disease and signed a national letter of intent with the University of Iowa, where his father, Fran McCaffery, is the head basketball coach.
  • Golfer Lucy Li (Redwood Shores, California) became the youngest player in history to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open at age 11. She also won the 2016 Junior PGA Championship at age 13.
  • Kanak Jha (table tennis; Milpitas, California) competed for Team USA at the Olympic Games Rio 2016. He has since been crowned the U.S. men’s singles national champion twice in 2016 and 2017.
  • Seven members of the U.S. Youth Olympic Swim Team have already committed to swimming in college: William Barao (Hingham, Massachusetts) – University of Notre Dame; Madelyn Donoho (Annandale, Virginia) and Katherine Douglass (Pelham, New York) – University of Virginia; Ethan Harder (Billings, Montana) – University of Texas; Jake Johnson (Lincoln University, Pennsylvania) – Harvard University; Kaitlynn Sims (Montgomery, Texas) – University of Michigan; and Rhyan White (Herriman, Utah) – University of Alabama.
  • Two Team USA athletes are the children of U.S. Department of State officials. Kayaker Robert Healy (Chevy Chase, Maryland) is the son of Rebecca Pasini, a Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Rio, and sailor Dominique Stater (Miami, Florida) is the daughter of Timothy Stater, a Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Argentina.
  • Ty Walker, a 2014 Olympic snowboarder and Brown University student, will serve as a Young Change-Maker at the Buenos Aires 2018 Games. She is the first U.S. athlete to assume the role, which had previously been held by a staff or administrator from the USOC or National Governing Body. 
  • Olympians and elite athletes Clarissa Chun (wrestling; Honolulu, Hawaii), Daryl Homer(fencing; Bronx, New York), Morghan King (weightlifting; Seattle, Washington), Josh Levin (climbing; Sunnyvale, California), Danell Leyva (gymnastics; Homestead, Florida) and Moy Rivas (sport dancing; Houston, Texas) are among the 54 athletes who were selected by the International Olympic Committee to serve as Athlete Role Models at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games.