Visa today announced the 31 grand prize winners of the Visa Olympics of the Imagination (VOI), whose artistic talent and imagination to create Olympic sports of the future have earned them a trip to the 1996 Olympic Games.
These 31 children, ages nine to 13, from 22 countries and six continents, will showcase to thousands of Olympic visitors in Atlanta their futuristic artistic vision of sports that can promote the Olympic ideals of peace and unity.
These young artists will also join with Olympic athletes to bring to life one of their imaginary sports of the future — 13-year-old San Francisco eighth-grader Jessica Der’s “Maze” — a sport that Der says “would create peace and harmony because everybody in it has to work as one and cooperate to win.”
The grand prize VOI winners are: Katrina Hobbs, 13, Australia; Monique de Godoy Froes, 11, Brazil; Katrina Paznar, 13, Canada; Catherine Emmanuelle Drapeau, 13, Canada; Benjamin Gagnon-Chainey, 14, Canada; Richard Shoji, 11, Canada; Allison Weekes, 13, Canada; Juan Pablo Martinez Ceballos, 10, Colombia; Michalis Evstathiou, 12, Cyprus; Stine Bogh Johansen, 13, Denmark; Nirmal John, 12, India; Galit Pinto, 12, Israel; Keiko Okamoto, 12, Japan; Utsav Thakkar, 12, Kenya; Huh Scok-In, 11, Korea; Pablo Osorio Gomez, 9, Mexico; Rocio Rodriguez Tamez, 11, Mexico; Souhail Houmam, 13, Morocco; Rachel Carter, 13, New Zealand; Kristina Meyn Krogvold, 13, Norway; Anna Kwiatkowska, 13, Poland; Tai-Omar Rosario Garcia, 11, Puerto Rico; George Podoleanu, 12, Romania; Loy Boon Theng, 10, Singapore; Bronwyn Trusler, 13, South Africa; Dries Meinema, 12, The Netherlands; Brandon Smith, 13, United States; Jessica Der, 13, United States; Davida Merlis, 13, United States; Yair Rodriguez, 12, United States; and Katie Ornelas, 12, United States.
“These children represent the future of the Olympic Games,” said Ed Jensen, Visa International president and chief executive officer. “Their art reminds us of how sports and the Olympic Games can serve as a platform for how people from all countries can work together.”
The VOI grand prize winners’ artwork was judged on its originality, imagination and artistic merit. The children were also required to write how their futuristic sport would promote world peace and unity.
Top Winner Earns Trip to 1998 Games
At the Games, Visa will also name the top VOI winner whose artwork has been selected from among all 31 grand prize winners as the “Best of Show” for artistic merit. The winner, selected by Visa and official Olympic artist Michel Delacroix, will earn a trip package to the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.
Visa, a worldwide sponsor of the Olympic Games since 1986, is the official payment system of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games and will continue as the exclusive card and official payment system for the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, and the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
Visa is the world’s largest consumer payment system. It plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its 20,000 member institutions, their cardholders and the global economy. Visa’s 500 million cards are accepted at more than 12 million worldwide locations, including over 280,000 ATMs in 101 countries. Visa’s Internet address is http://www.visa.com.