Coast’s ‘Face of the Games’ a decade on
EVE Lutze remembers holding hands with then-premier Anna Bligh the day the Gold Coast won the rights to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
She was nine years old and on one of her first trips overseas, to a country with just 55,000 people.
That moment at St Kitts and Nevis in 2011 seems like half a lifetime ago for Eve, because it actually is.
She was in the junior grades at All Saints Anglican School when plucked from a group photo to become the face of the Games campaign, appearing on buses, banners and flying around the world.
She continued to be the "unofficial face" of the event.
"When we first started we honestly had no idea it was going to be such a major role for so many years," she said.
"Obviously, I'm very grateful that it was me.
"I remember (when we won the bid) I turned around and I just burst into tears. (Then Games chairman) Mark Stockwell gave me a huge hug. It was just the most rewarding moment.
"I honestly can't express enough how fast the whole journey did go. It was sad, but to see everything come together so well was very rewarding.
"I'm lucky to have been a part of it all."
Today, Eve is a university student with dreams to be at the next Commonwealth Games - only this time as a competitor.
The 18-year-old is an elite long-distance swimmer. She competed at last year's Australian trials to try and make the Coast Games, but did not qualify.
She credits GC2018 with boosting her confidence and inspiring her to continue in sport.
"I was exposed to a lot of things that a normal nine-year-old would not be exposed to, and it's honestly shaped me to be the adult that I am now," she said.
"I had to be very disciplined and work very hard. I had to be around very influential people, act a certain way, look a certain way.
"I had to grow up very quickly but I was also surrounded by people who knew I was still a little girl.
"It definitely has had a major impact on my life."
Eve, who hopes to become a special-education teacher after she graduates from Griffith University, said she had managed to keep a close bond with several major Games figures.
"(Mark Stockwell and Andrew Baildon) were very, very influential and supportive in the original days and they still are now.
"I still refer to them as my uncles and my absolute support system. Mark has always said, 'you didn't change a bit'."