>> August 23, 2013
Asian Youth Games – day four review (22 August 2013)
An afternoon storm in Nanjing, was a welcome relief from the heat wave conditions the athletes endured on the first three days. The lower temperatures were also timely with four endurance events on the program.
The outstanding success of coach Junwei Yang continued on the final evening on the AYG with his athletes claiming the two discus titles on offer in world leading performances.
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.”
Yang and his four throwers from Lianyungang Sports school in Jiangsu Province, depart Nanjing with four titles and a string of outstanding performances.
Hunan sprinter Guifen Huang (CHN), who won her speciality the 400 metres on day two, added the 200 metres title tonight in Nanjing with a massive personal best of 23.82, her first ever sub-24 performance.
A semi-finalist in the 400 metres at last month’s IAAF world youth championships, Huang hopes to continue her career on the international stage.
"I hope to take part in some bigger international sporting events, and I plan to take part in the YOG next year."
The athletes in the 3000 metre events led from the gun and were never under threat as they took the titles.
Liu Hongliang (CHN), a student at Inner Mongolia Vocational College of Physical Education in Tuquan City, led at each kilometre, passed in very uneven splits, of 2:57, 2:42 and 2:46, hitting the line in 8:25.86. In the girls race, Japan’s Fukiko Ando was even more dominant. She recorded kilometres splits of 3:05, 3:09 and 3:09, stopping the clock at 9:23.50, 10 seconds outside her personal best. Ando had run away from the field very early and after four laps led the Korean pair, working together, by 30 metres. This was extended to 120 metres by the finish line.
Indian athlete, Anjana Dhavalu Thamake, running for the Independent Olympic Athletes team, came from behind to win the girls 800 metres in 2:11.47. In the boy’s 800m, Korea’s Sangmin Lee led at the bell in 56.61, going on to win in 1:54.64.
Other winners on the final evening were:
· Chun-Han Yang (TPE) boys’ 200m 21.47
· Witthawal Thumcha (THA) boys’ 400m hurdles 52.79
· Ying Yu (CHN) girls’ 400m hurdles 63.28
· Yuji Hiramatsu (JPN) boys’ high jump 2.06m
· Yue Ma (CHN) girls’ triple jump 12.55m
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 each and on one medal Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Independent Olympic Athletes.
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."
However Mr Nicholas has been concerned with the lack of athletes converting this junior success into senior ranks.
"Perhaps the biggest (challenge) is the attrition. The youth are doing very well at the moment and this is good for (next year's Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing) but due to studies and other things, the number of Asian athletes in the (older groups) dwindles. We hope this will change with these great results (in Nanjing).
“This is the first step, the youth, next we have the juniors and then the seniors. It is a very good sign to see these youth doing so well in Nanjing. 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.”
David Tarbotton for AdrianSprints.com
*photo- Thailand athlete Tontrakan Chuthueng competed in boys discus throw (by Lintao Zhang)