The WYC mascot in Bressanone/Brixen crow Hugo was real once. Athletes competing for medals at the WYC in Bressanone/Brixen will have to share the attention with a black crow.
The mascot of "Südtirol 2009", Hugo, exists in three life-sized replicas as well as on paper, throwing a discus or jumping over a hurdle. But there is a real story behind him.
The crow Hugo is not just some fictional character created by the fantasy of a comics artist, but a real bird!
The janitor of the stadium Peter Brugger discovered him 20 years ago when spreading the seeds on the soccer field.
"We had a ladybug invasion and the crow picked the grub from the earth virtually doing us a favor. But he also managed to destroy the field in record time. Any attempt to get rid of him failed. I even fired the starting gun." remembers Mr. Brugger.
The black bird found an inexhaustible feeding paradise in the stadium located south of Bressanone/Brixen. And thus is how the permanent guest turned into an attraction. The crow bonded with athletes and Mr. Brugger named him Hugo.
"A less than favorite class mate of mine was named Hugo, hence the name" explains Mr. Brugger with a smile.
Now mascot Hugo's fame reaches far beyond the sport complex in Bressanone/Brixen. Art teacher and former Disney employee Mauro Fattor from Bressanone/Brixen created the original Hugo a few years back.
Former long jumper and Italian National Youth Team member Verena Mitterrutzner gave him a further WYC lifting. He is available in XXX variations including as a javelin thrower and pole vaulter.
Hugo, the original crow, was last seen about 10 years ago. He was the leader of a pack of 30 crows who have all found a home in this sport complex.
The WYC guests can look forward to meeting a very nice mascot. The company "Joy Toy" from Schabs has produced three life-sized soft toy replicas of Hugo and given them as a gift to the Südtirol 2009 LOC.
Hugo who will be carried by hand ball player Holger Kovacs, among others, and will provide for some atmosphere during the competitions from July 8th to 12th.
And there is help for those falling in love with Hugo. His soft-toy replica with a key chain can be purchased during the WYC at the merchandising store in the stadium.
Mexico is in
Meanwhile, the international athletics federation - IAAF has received Mexico's late registration for 18 athletes.
At last 180 nations will now participate at the WYC Südtirol 2009 as concerns over their participation because of the recent swine flu epidemic in the country has now been put to rest.
The largest contingent comes from the US (51 athletes) followed by host country Italy (48). 45 nations are from Europe, 39 from Africa, 36 from Asia and 30 from Middle and North America, 18 from Oceania and 12 from South America.
This amounts to 1038 accredited individuals including coaches and support staff. 1339 of these are athletes (771 boys and 568 girls).
WYC Event Manager Stefano Andreatta said: "We immediately made ourselves knowledgable about the potential risks of the swine flu once Mexico confirmed it attendance.
"The IAAF has mitigated our concerns assuring us the that Mexican delegation has been subject to a special screening for Swine Flu."