ROME—Athletes headed to the Olympic Games in London have more in common than talent and hard work. Whether they’re sprinting the 100 metres or diving off a springboard, they know that without eating the right foods, they can’t give their best.
Nutrition is just as important to children. They need it so that their minds and bodies can grow, and so that they can learn in school and reach their full potential.
As excitement builds around the Olympic Games in London, here are four renowned athletes who’ve seen first-hand the difference nutrition can make in the lives of hungry children.
Dayron Robles - Hurdler
As a child, Cuban hurdler Dayron Robles suffered from anaemia, a form of malnutrition that left him tired and weak. Thanks in part to meals provided to him at school, he overcame the problem and became one of the fastest hurdlers in the world. Robles won a gold medal in the 100-metre hurdles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and then another at the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships. Read more
Paul Tergat - Marathon Runner
WFP Ambassador Paul Tergat says he came to school as much for the meals as for the lessons. Growing up in impoverished rural Kenya, he remembers what it was like to go to bed hungry. But with help from those meals, he was able to become one of the greatest long-distance runners of all time, winning two silver medals at the Olympics and breaking the world record for fastest marathon in 2003. Read more
Li Ning - Gymnast
“As an athlete, I know how important good nutrition is for healthy growth,” said Chinese gymnast Li Ning, who was dubbed The Prince of Gymnastics after winning 6 medals at the 1984 Summer Olympics. Li Ning says living in a country where hunger was once widespread, but that now contributes to WFP’s work around the world helped him understand the long-term impact nutrition can have. Read more
Robert Korzeniowski - Racewalker
One of the most successful racewalkers of all time, Robert Korzeniowski won three consecutive Olympic gold medals for the 50 km walk between 1996 and 2004, and a fourth gold medal in the 20 km walk in 2000. He said that his memories of receiving international aid as a child in Communist Poland were behind his decision to support WFP school meals programmes. Read more