Youth Olympics: Kanah Andrews-Nahu carries NZ flag at Buenos Aires

Kanah Andrews-Nahu was 13 years old when Crossfit inspired her to take up weightlifting.

Four years on, she mightn’t have expected to be in the athletes’ village at the Youth Olympic Games, with the New Zealand flag draped over her shoulders.

Olympic sailboarding legend Barbara Kendall had just announced her as flag-bearer for the 61-strong New Zealand team in Buenos Aires.

"[She] is a leader and a role model," Kendall declared. "She shows maturity and commitment beyond her years, and most importantly, she does this with an amazing big smile." 

Andrews-Nahu responded with that trademark smile.

"You know, it really warms your heart when someone points out those qualities about yourself, especially with [Barbara] having been a flag bearer," she said. "It's a privilege to be the leader."

The Auckland teenager will lead the team at the public opening ceremony through the streets of Buenos Aires on Sunday [NZ time] - a first for any Olympic Games.

"I'm sure my mum would cry and my dad would go 'yep, that’s the one!'," she laughs.

Also watching on will be her coach - Commonwealth gold medallist Richie Patterson, who carried the flag at the closing ceremony for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

"To see her light up like that and get to lead them out, it will be really special for her," Patterson said.

He also believed the honour would put her in good stead for the biggest competition of her career.

Andrews-Nahu has broken a staggering 135 national records, but at these Games, she will compete against other females who are 20-30kg heavier.

"This is a very high-level event," said Patterson. "It's not just the Youth Olympics - this is the best in the world here.

"She'll be competitive, you don’t really know until you turn up on the day."

But after an impressive lift two weeks ago he's hoping she’ll be right up in the top three.

"The lift that she did two weeks ago, in the snatch, would’ve equalled the gold medal lift [at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year]."