Asian Youth Games Nanjing 2013 Concluded (Track and Field Athletics)

>> August 23, 2013

The heatwave conditions on the first three days were replaced by milder temperatures on the final evening of the four day track and field competition at the Asian Youth Games, being held in Nanjing, China, this week. The games were open to athletes aged 15 or 16 years and the same athletes will be age-eligible for the second IOC Youth Olympic Games to be held next year in the same city.

Healthy crowd numbers in excess of 20,000 on most evenings augurs well for next year’s youth Olympics. As we have come to know, the enthusiastic Chinese crowds politely support all competitors, but can always find an extra cheer for a host nation athlete.

Team China dominated the competition taking 19 gold, ahead of Japan 4, Thailand 3, Korea and Chinese Taipei with two and on one medal Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Independent Olympic Athletes.

The limelight was shared by many of the athletes who a month earlier had competed at the IAAF world youth championships in Donetsk Ukraine, while many athletes achieved top three world age ranging performances.
Takumu Furuya ran the second fastest time in the World (by D. Tarbotton)
Japan’s Takumu Furuya stamped himself as one of the finest all round junior hurdlers in the world. At the recent IAAF world youth championships, he placed an outstanding fourth in the 400m hurdles, in an under-17 years world leading time of 51.00 seconds. But at the Asian Youth Games, he switched his attention to the 110m hurdles. Arriving at the meet he owned a personal best of 13.92, which he smashed in the heat, running 13.64, before destroying this best again with 13.36 in the final - the second fastest time in the world for his age.
"From the preliminary to the final, everything was smooth, although I got an injury some days before I came here. But finally I made it, I got the gold medal, I am so happy," Furuya said.
Second in the hurdles was Sri Lanka’s Akila Ravisanka, a year 11 high school student from a village outside of Columbo. Coached by Indika Jayasinghe, Ravisanka clocked a big personal best time of 13.99.

In the women’s 100m hurdles, Nana Fujimori (JPN) lived up to expectations coasting to the line nearly a flight ahead of her closest rival, Vietnam’s Thi Lan Nguyen. There was unsteadiness on the line at the first attempt to start the race, but no one was awarded a break.
“The first false start had no effect on me,” commented Fujimori, whose winning time of 13.69, into a slight headwind, was faster than she recorded at the recent IAAF world youth championships, where she progressed to the semi-finals. But the time was still outside her personal best of 13.66 recorded in 2012. Nguyen, clocked 14.43 for the silver medal, just ahead of Indonesia’s Ken Ayuthaya Purnama in 14.45.

One coach and one school in China, have produced four gold medallists at the AYG. Junwei Yang, a coach at the Lianyungang Sports school in Lianyungang city, located in the Jiangsu Province which is hosting the AYG, has coached athletes to four titles in the throwing events. The performance levels from the athletes were of the highest quality with all athletes achieving distance moving them into the world top-four for 2013. The gold rush started on the second night with Yin Dong (CHN) winning the girls’ shot put title with a distance of 16.84m.
"She was a little impetuous in her second put, so I told her that she should watch her psychological attitude," said coach Yang.
“She will try her best to take part in Youth Olympic Games next year. I hope she can be selected to the national team. She trains five times a week and every time for 1.5 hours.”
Later that evening Yuanbo Ding (CHN) won the boys’ hammer throw title by over 10 metres with a distance of 73.73m, the third best throw in the world by an under-17 age athlete.
On the final evening, two of Yang’s athletes won the discus titles.
Bronze medallists at the recent world youth championships, Yulong Cheng (CHN) dominated the boys’ discus from his first throw of 58.30m. His series included two throws over 60 metres, but his best of 62.03m on the final throw, was just short of his personal record of 62.80m, set in Donetsk, which was the world’s leading under-17 performance this year.
"I didn't feel good about the last throw. I was a little surprised because I didn't expect to throw that far,” he said. "I'm very excited. It's not until today that all my toil and sweat finally paid off. I'm grateful for the chance that allowed me to perform well here."
The fourth gold for the Yang-coached group was nailed by girls’ discus champion, Kangping Sun (CHN), who set a world leading performance of 49.28m in the first round to win gold by nearly five metres.
“I'm very excited now. In the beginning of the competition, I felt very nervous, but I got more and more relaxed. My coach told me to compete at my normal level, take it easy and perform as usual.”

Aged just 15 years, Hussain Al Hizam is Saudi Arabia’s best ever pole vaulter, raising the national open record on five occasions this year, taking it from 4.95m to 5.27m. This week in Nanjing, he opened his competition with 4.60m which he cleared on his second attempt to put him in second place behind Iraq’s Muntadher Abdulwahid who had cleared on his first attempt. At 4.70m, Abdulwahid missed his attempts, while Al Hizam negotiated the height on his third attempt to take the title.

The boys’ javelin was a come from behind win to Chinese Taipei’s Jenwei Tsai. After three rounds China’s Zhuqing Su led comfortably with his first round throw of 67.35m, ahead of Sungming Lee (TPE) on 65.90m and Ao Zhou (CHN) with 64.94m. But the competition changed dramatically when in round five, Tsai, a student at National Yilan Senior High School, launched the javelin out to 70.41m to take the lead by over three metres. Su tried his best and responded with a personal record of 67.51m on the event’s final throw, to confirm the silver medal.
"My best throw tonight was made when I felt well and I found my confidence back,” said Tsai.
“My earlier throws were not that good, so I adjusted mentality. I took a medal, which made me happy and satisfied. But I won't have a party or travel in Nanjing to celebrate. I will fly back (home) soon, because when school starts I will have many other competitions."

Favourite for the boys’ shot, was local athlete Jianping Han who started slowly, eventually securing the victory with his very last throw of 18.87m. Japan’s Yume Ando, led early with 17.36m in round three, eventually putting 18.07m in round four for his best of the day.
"I am very excited and I had never thought about this result. I broke my own record (18.50m) and reached a new level - 18.87m.,” said Han.
"I am now studying at Jiangsu 101 High School and I keep training during my study time."

Maurice Nicholas (SIN), Honorary Secretary of the Asian Athletics Association, was full of praise for the organisers.
"Let me congratulate the organisers on a very well organised games that is running so well. Perhaps the most beautiful thing is that everything runs on time. I simply couldn't find any problems."
He was also pleased with the performances of the athletes.
"It's been very, very encouraging. It is wonderful to see all the personal bests up on the scoreboard so often. This is a very good sign for the youth of Asia, and for athletics in Asia.”

Article by David Tarbotton

READ: ASIAN Youth Games 2013 (Athletics): Preview - Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3 - Day 4  (by David Tarbotton)

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