The Commonwealth Youth Games stand as a pinnacle of achievement for young athletes worldwide, igniting dreams of international success and unforgettable experiences. 

For Australian sprinter Riley Day, it was the start of her athletic career that has so far seen her compete in the Commonwealth Games, the Olympics and the World Championships.

The 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games in Nassau, Bahamas was her first taste of an international event that saw her win gold in the 200m and silver in the 100m. However, the journey to the Bahamas was not without its challenges. 

"We all had an absolute disaster trip trying to get to the Bahamas as we missed our connecting flights," Day recalls. 

"A 24-hour trip turned into a 50-hour trip. But I remember that it was a really fun trip, and I have fond memories of learning lots of new things about other sports and getting to play beach volleyball on the beach outside our hotel."

For those embarking on their first international journey, Day's advice is invaluable: "Try to sleep as much as you can on long haul flights and when you aren’t asleep, make sure you’re drinking heaps of water and walking around."

The Games marked not only her first international event, but also her first time traveling alone and taught her some valuable life lessons.

"The Youth Games taught me a lot about independence and doing things on my own," said Day. 

"It was my first trip without my parents, and I had to organize myself and make sure I had everything I needed."

The Games' unifying spirit also allowed Riley to interact with people from diverse cultures, an experience she deeply cherishes. 

"I always love talking to people from different cultures and educating myself on their culture. 

"We were lucky to be staying in the same hotel as many different countries, so we were all able to mingle and chat with one another."

Riley is aware that young athletes will face fears and uncertainties ahead of the Games, but has a reassuring message for those who may be struggling. 

"We had a lot of support in the pre-departure camp from managers and staff, so if I ever had any questions, I asked them, then they shared, highlighting the importance of having people to lean on during such an intense journey.”

The opportunities presented to Riley following the Youth Games were momentous. 

"I competed really well at Youth Games, so when I arrived home, I was invited to compete at the senior World Championships in London.

"It was an amazing experience for me as a 17-year-old."

For athletes heading to the Youth Games, Riley's advice is simple: "Soak up the experience and just go out there and have a crack!"

The Commonwealth Youth Games serve as more than just a sporting event; they embody the spirit of unity and growth, empowering young athletes like Riley Day to reach for the stars and make their mark on the world stage.