In two weeks, UC San Diego Health orthopaedic surgeon Sonya Ahmed, MD, will head to Lillehammer, Norway for the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games. Ahmed is a former elite athlete herself — competing internationally in gymnastics and in collegiate pole vaulting. But this time she’s heading to the world stage not as an athlete, but as a doctor.

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) selected Ahmed for the role of chief medical officer for the Lillehammer 2016 Games, which take place February 12-21.

“I’m so appreciative of this opportunity and honor — I hope to bring my personal experience as an athlete to it, as well as the best care they have ever seen,” said Ahmed, who is also chief of the Foot and Ankle Division in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at UC San Diego Health and a foot and ankle consultant to the San Diego Chargers.

The Youth Olympic Games bring together talented young athletes ages 15 to 18 from around the world.

Like the Olympic Games, the youth event occurs every four years. At the Lillehammer 2016 Games, more than 1,100 young athletes will compete in 70 medal events within 15 winter sport disciplines. In addition, the Winter Youth Olympic Games also include a few unique experiences, such as an ice hockey skills challenge and mixed gender and mixed nationality events. Off the field, workshops, team-building exercises and a Learn & Share Program provide the young athletes with opportunities to learn about Olympic values, explore other cultures and develop the skills to become true ambassadors of their sports.

The USOC appoints physicians and surgeons to support the Games based on proven clinical skills, sports medicine expertise and overall professionalism.

“Dr. Ahmed has gone above and beyond to provide exceptional athlete care, communicating with providers and athletic trainers from the U.S. Olympic Committee and the National Governing Bodies for various sports,” said Bill Moreau, DC, USOC managing director of sports medicine. “She has a competitive athletic background, which allows her to understand the pressures and challenges of training and competing. Her passion for sports combined with her excellence as a physician-surgeon give her Team USA athletes and coaches a lot of confidence in the care she provides.”

UC San Diego Health is an official U.S. Olympic Regional Medical Center, part of a national network of leading medical providers selected by the USOC to provide comprehensive medical services to Team USA athletes, including orthopedics and sports medicine, primary care, cardiovascular care, neurosurgery, cancer care and physical therapy.