This weekend's Native Youth Olympics in Anchorage offer plenty of room for competition, culture and sportsmanship. 

In fact, it's a requirement.

At NYO, how you compete is even more important than if you win. On Thursday, the 49th annual games got underway with an hour-long ceremony at the Alaska Airlines Center. 

Records are kept for the one-hand reach or two-foot high kick, but representing oneself and the community counts here, too.

"The games also promote things like camaraderie among athletes, so it's one of the most unique sports," said Dana Diehl, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium's director of wellness and prevention. "Because rather than competing against each other, we're cheering each other on and encouraging each other to do better and providing tips for how to do better during the games."

A former competitor herself in the seal hop, as well as the one-foot and two-foot high kick, Diehl said the team aspect is alive and well. Whether it's yours or another.

"So there's aspects of connection to culture, camaraderie," said Diehl, who's originally from Aniak. "And then promotion of our Alaska Native values like supporting each other and respecting each other."

The games run though Saturday and admission is free.

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