On Feb. 1, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) selected sophomore fencer Lance Tan to their Youth Leadership Program. A pre-med student, Tan and 24 other student athletes around the globe will be guided toward starting their own businesses, using sports as a catalyst to promote positive social change in their communities.
Out of 350 applicants, Tan is among 12 men and 13 women selected from five continents to earn this honor. According to the IOC, youth leaders have centered 116 sport-related projects on education, social inclusion, sustainability and well-being for over 300,000 people worldwide.
“It’s like being a tiny pebble in the pond,” said Tan. “The biggest thing for me is just inspiring not only this generation, but the future as well.”
The program, which is entering its fifth year, has extended its annual model to a four-year experience. For Tan, his plan is to benefit underprivileged athletes in the Philippines through educational and athletic mentorship.
“As a dual-national, I am in this unique position that I am a Philippines national, but also grew up and trained here in the States,” said Tan. “I would love to find a way for my network and background to help others and to provide others the same opportunity.”
During the program, Tan will have access to experts on a wide array of topics to support him and his business. He will also be funded with 10,000 Swiss Franc, which translates to nearly $11,160 dollars.
The Olympic partner, Panasonic, as well as Adidas Sports Hub will also be funding the young leaders.
Compared to the program’s initial six-week learning sprint last November, Tan will participate in weekly modules remotely.
“Obviously, I’d love to do it in person. That would be the biggest goal,” said Tan. “But with COVID right now, I guess the safest option would be to do it remotely for the time being, which is what a lot of the program was learning for the IOC.”
The Young Leaders serve as ambassadors of Olympism, a philosophy that blends sport, culture, education and social responsibility.
According to Sacred Heart Athletics, Tan discovered Olympism when he qualified for the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina (2018).
“The Olympics and Olympism are more than sports,” said Tan. “It is also about the Olympic values and helping the world become a better place through the power of sports, which value excellence, respect and friendship.”
With this addition to his schedule, Tan remains confident in his time management skills.
“I think the biggest thing is staying organized,” he said. “I always believe in schedules, and then sticking with the plan and making sure that you’ve committed the right amount of time to everything.”
Tan placed 21st in the foil at the 2020 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Regional and earned a gold medal for the Pioneers at the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Conference Championship. Internationally, Tan participated in two World Championships, one in Wuxi (2018) and one in Budapest (2019).
“He’s a great fencer, plus he started very well,” said head coach Yury Molchan. “He can show his experience with his teammates, especially ones who aren’t rated, who just started fencing.”
Molchan recognized the impact Tan could have with his selection.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to develop some sport and contribute to this and everything in his country, the Philippines,” said Molchan. “It’s great for many generations.”
Tan and the fencing team will compete at Boston College against several other schools on Saturday, Feb. 20.