UNESCO European Athletics Young Leaders Community

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Meet the Young Leaders: Patrick Malmquist

May 12, 2017

As part of our new 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 Young Leaders Forum in Amsterdam last summer 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, community service and making new friends.

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

My name is Patrick Malmquist, I am 21 years old and from the southern part of Sweden but I am currently studying Sports Science and Sports Management in a town called Umeå in the northern part of the country. I was an athlete for more than eight years doing a little bit of everything, mostly high jump in the beginning but then I moved over to the long hurdles. Nowadays it feels like I do a little bit of every sport, having a goal set to complete an Ironman within a few years, we shall see how that turns out. 

How did you become involved with the European Athletics Young Leaders Community?

I got involved with the European Athletics Young Leaders Community thanks to the Young Leaders Forum that was held in conjunction with the 2016 European Championships in Amsterdam. I was selected as one out of two representatives from Sweden, and I was actually a bit sad that I had not known about the community earlier. Later on, I was chosen to be one of the Youth Team members and here we are today. 

What is your favourite thing about athletics?

There are a lot of things I like about athletics, and it is near impossible to just pick one favourite thing. It is a sport that offers something for more or less everyone, and I like that. It does not matter where you go or who you are, you will always be able to find new friends and meet such humble and kind people wherever you end up which is fantastic!

Who is your athletics hero and why?

Oh, this is also a hard question; to only pinpoint one individual is impossible for me. My first hero was without doubt Swedish high jumper Stefan Holm. He was a big part of why my first favourite event was the high jump, and I always liked watching him jump. However I was one of those athletes that did not get anything for free, so I had to fight hard to get any sort of results which sometimes was tough mentally. Therefore another Swede, Susanna Kallur, is a big inspiration for me, the way she has fought through obstacle after obstacle and managed to get back is such a fairytale! 

Another one I look up to is British long jumper Greg Rutherford for being such a good human being - at least that is the feeling I get from him. Then, of course, Usain Bolt is somewhat cool as well, and does not really need an explanation! 

Which areas of the sport are you particularly interested in?

I am interested in a lot of areas when it comes to sports. I think my main area is competitions and things around them. It could either be just a competition or a tournament, and it does not have to be an athletics one. I also like the marketing and promotional aspects of different kinds of activities. 

If you could change one aspect of the sport, what would you change and why?

I think, from an athletics and competitions point of view, I would try to think more innovatively when it comes to younger ages. We can see statistics saying athletes drop out at a higher rate at certain ages, and it feels like the trend is that the age where this is happening is moving downwards. We can also see more youngsters choosing team sports over individual sports and I think we are losing a lot of potential young athletes there. At the same time I know how much our younger athletes like competitions where you compete both individually and as a team. And that is probably something I would try and implement. More different ways of competing you could say. 

Where do you see yourself within the sport in ten years’ time?

If there is something I have learned through all my voluntary work and my studies it would be that you never know what will happen, and that your original plan will change both once or twice. But in ten years’ time I put my beliefs into working full-time with sports in some way. Hopefully on an international level, as I always strive towards the top in whatever I do. 

What has been your highlight of Young Leaders so far?

My highlight of the Young Leaders so far is without doubt the Young Leaders Forum in Amsterdam. I have always advocated working across borders and how that will be more and more common in the future. To meet people from all around Europe with the energy and the will to do things was just such an amazing experience and adventure.

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