Archive for October, 2014

Five more Rio 2016 Paralympic Games places confirmed as Asian Para Games nears end

October 24th, 2014

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Rio 2016

Athletics: Stardom awaits for Nanjing’s talented youngsters

October 23rd, 2014

Bright start for Jamaican sprinters

Jamaica’s Martin Manley kicked off the men’s athletics finals on 23 August with gold in the 400m. Manley finished in a time of 46.31 seconds to see off Karabo Sibanda (BOT) and Henri Delauze (BAH).

The Jamaican runner is seen as a star in the making in the one-lap event and looks set to join a long list of emerging Jamaican talent on the track. His success in Nanjing completed a memorable double after he won 400m gold at the 2013 IAAF World Youth Championships.

“I’m happy to end my season with a bang,” said Manley. “What do I put my success down to? Training. I love training. I’m a hard-working athlete. Everything in athletics is hard, and training is the hardest part. Winning is the easy bit.”

Jamaica’s hot streak in the track events continued as Jaheel Hyde recorded a personal best in the 110m hurdles, clocking an impressive time of 12.96 seconds.

“It’s a great feeling to be the best in the world in my age group,” Hyde said. “My family got me here with the sacrifices they made to get me to training and to the events. They had to get up very early to get me to training, but that’s what keeps me disciplined.”

Meanwhile, China’s Cheng Yulong triumphed in the discus, setting a new personal best of 64.14m.

After running towards his parents in the stands to celebrate, an emotional Cheng said he wanted his victory to inspire the remaining Chinese athletes.

In the high jump, Danil Lysenko (RUS) won gold after clearing 2.20 metres. Yuji Hiramatsu (JPN) and Shemaiah James (AUS) tied for silver, both achieving new personal bests of 2.14m.

“Today was rather difficult to jump, I made some mistakes but I had time to correct them,” Lysenko said. “Of course I’m absolutely delighted but I didn’t put in my best performance tonight.”

Finally, in the 100m final, Sydney Siame (ZAM) won gold in 10.56 seconds, a whisker ahead of Kenta Oshima (JPN) on 10.57 seconds and Trae Williams (AUS) on 10.60 seconds.

“It’s been so long since Zambia won a medal in this event,” Siame said. “I’m very happy to win.”

Soet celebrates in style as Nanjing enjoys the Noah show 

The morning session on 24 August started with Anatoly Ryapolov (RUS) taking gold in the long jump. Ryapolov’s distance of 7.54m was enough to see him finish ahead of Obrien Wasome (JAM), who recorded a leap of 7.44m, and Zhong Peifeng (CHN) on 7.37m.

However, the performance of the day went to 1,500m runner Kwemoi Soet (KEN) who claimed gold in wonderful style, first by recording the fastest junior time of the year on 3:41.99 and then by celebrating in extravagant fashion with a series of karate kicks on the finishing line.

“I made an effort to end fast,” he said. “It was a very good race. I feel a lot of love for China.”

Later, despite dominating the field to win shot put gold with a personal best throw of 23.17m, Poland’s Konrad Bukowiecki admitted he was still not entirely happy.

“I’m frustrated because I wanted to beat the Polish record of 23.23m,” he explained. “I was 6cm short, so I don’t feel great. My main aim was to throw the record. The gold is a bonus, but I don’t feel satisfied.”

Having arrived at the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games after a string of successes, including first place in the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships, Bukowiecki was considered by many to be the gold medal favourite. And he certainly lived up to his billing, recording a winning distance that was two metres and 17cm longer than that of silver medallist Andrei Rares Toader (ROU).

In the 10,000m race walk, meanwhile, Minoru Onogawa (JPN) recorded a winning time of 42:03.64.

“My high school teacher recommended that I compete in walking,” he said. “Three or four days per week I walk really fast and the other days I run. It’s not painful because I train every day. All I can say is that I am so happy. I trained a year for this gold medal.”

Elsewhere, in the men’s 200m final, Noah Lyles (USA) won gold ahead of Baboloki Thebe (BOT) and Chun-Han Yang (TPE) with a time of 20.80 seconds.

“This is the USA coming back and taking over the sprints,” he said. “This is just the start of the Noah show.”

Finally, the two remaining medals of an enjoyable second evening of athletics finals went to Ukraine’s Hlib Piskunov, who won the hammer throw with a personal best of 82.65m, and Yomif Kejelcha Atomsa of Ethiopia, who won the 3,000m in 7:56.20, finishing 10 seconds ahead of Burundi’s Thierry Ndikumwenayo (8:06.05) and Kenya’s Moses Koech (8:06.33).

All-African podium rounds off individual finals

In the only men’s final on the morning of 25 August, Xu Zhihang (CHN) took the 400m hurdles gold much to the delight of the crowd packed inside the Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre Stadium.

Having produced the best performance of his budding career, Xu recorded a time of 50.61 seconds in the closest result of the track and field schedule.

Tunisia’s Mohamed Fares Jlassi crossed the line with exactly the same time but, after a nervous wait on the finishing line, the Chinese youngster was eventually declared the winner on a photo finish. France’s Victor Coroller completed the podium after finishing in 51.19 seconds.

Later, there was more glory for France as Lukas Moutarde secured first place in the javelin final with a personal best throw of 74.48m.

“To even be here in a final was already great for me,” he said. “So to get on the podium is just incredible.”

Alexandru Novac (ROU) won the silver with a throw of 73.98m while Mark Xaver Schmolcz (HUN) picked up the bronze with 72.40m.

In the pole vault, Spain’s Noel-Aman Del Cerro Vilalta took top spot by clearing 5.10m at the second attempt.

Vladimir Shcherbakov (RUS) started well, clearing every vault up to 5.05m on the first attempt, but had to settle for silver ahead of Muntadher Abdulwahid (IRQ), who reached the same height.

Elsewhere, only one jump was required for Miguel Van Assen (SUR) to take gold in the triple jump as he managed 16.15m on his first attempt. That leap put the competition out of reach for Italy’s Tobia Bocchi (16.01m) and Azerbaijan’s Nazim Babayev (15.96m).

In the 800m final, meanwhile, Myles Marshall (USA) finished in 1:49.14 to see of the challenge of Uganda’s Geofrey Balimumiti (1:49.37) and Ethiopia’s Bacha Morka Mulata (1:49.73).

“My plan was to get out of the mess and have my own little lane to run in,” said Marshall. “Getting overtaken by Balimumiti on the penultimate corner didn’t matter. In the last 200m of the race, I knew I was going to lay it down.”

Finally, in the last individual men’s final of the Games, Wogene Sebisibe Sidamo (ETH) took gold in the 2,000m steeplechase ahead of Amos Kirui (KEN) and Hicham Chemlal (MAR) to finish the night with an all-African podium.

Mixed relay’s cast of hundreds provide memorable finale

On 26 August, the track and field schedule at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games came to a close amid a frenzy of dropped batons and near collisions as 620 athletes competed in the newly-introduced 8x100m mixed team relay.

The event was eventually won by a team featuring a shot putter and a triple jumper as team 34, consisting of eight athletes of different nationalities who were previously unfamiliar with each other, raced to victory on Yanshan Road in 1:40.20.

Fortunately for German shot putter Merten Howe, there were a number of sprinters in his team, including men’s 100m competitor Trae Williams (AUS).

“I ran third, and I ran hard,” Williams said. “I caught a few of the other countries.”

“I thought the race was a really good thing. It was almost an obstacle relay, a bit like hurdles. There were plenty of dropped batons but racing with all those athletes was a once in a lifetime experience.”

The other members of gold-winning team 34 were men’s 1,500m runner Daou Bacar Aboubacar (COM), men’s 400m hurdler Witthawat Thumcha (THA), women’s 400m runner Maria Simancas (VEN), women’s triple jumper Tatiana Blagoveshchenskaia (RUS), women’s 800m runner Lakeisha Ashley Warner (IVB) and women’s 200m runner Ioana Teodora Gheorghe (ROU).

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361° to provide uniforms for Rio 2016 Games technical staff and volunteers

October 22nd, 2014

Surprises abound in women’s fencing in Nanjing

October 22nd, 2014

Massialas secures foil title

Sabrina Massialas (USA) emerged victorious from the women’s foil in the opening event of a fencing competition at the Nanjing International Expo Centre on 17 August.

The California native, a silver medallist at the FIE Junior and Cadet World Championships, produceda last-gasp feint in the final versus Karin Miyawaki (JPN), to secure a 7-6 sudden-death win at the end of a tightly contested battle.


“I’m speechless; it hasn’t really hit me yet. My voice is shot from screaming so much,” she said. “It gives me a whole bunch of new inspiration and motivation for the future. We were at 6-6. I’ve been in many high-stress situations so I’m used to it. I knew that if I worked for one touch that I could get it, so that’s what I did.”

Massialas, who is trained by her father Greg, a three-time Olympic medallist himself, even surpassed the achievements of her brother, Alex, who won a silver medal at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

“I started the day slowly. The Games were getting to me a bit. I had no fire in me, no fight. Afterwards, my dad said, ‘You’ve got to fight, be aggressive, be mean.’ And so I got myself in the zone,” she explained.

“I wanted the gold, so I’m a little disappointed,” said Miyawaki. “In April, at the Cadet World Championships, I found myself in the same situation [against Massialas in extra time]. Then, I launched an attack and she touched me, so this time I focused on being more defensive. I wanted revenge.”

In the semi-finals, Miyawaki had defeated 2014 cadet world champion and global rankings leader Marta Martyanova (RUS), who went on to lose the bronze medal bout to China’s Huang Ali by a 13-8 scoreline.

“I didn’t perform all that well, but I’m going to try harder in the future. Practice makes perfect,” said Martyanova. “I didn’t win any medals today, so of course I’m pretty disappointed.”

Lee Sinhee claims surprise epee victory

Lee Sinhee (KOR) created a significant upset in the women’s epee final on 18 August by overcoming cadet world champion Eleonora De Marchi (ITA). Favourite for gold, De Marchi had shown her class at the semi-final stage, coming back from 10-6 down against Catherine Nixon (USA) to eventually triumph 15-11.

In the final, however, Lee Sinhee was just too strong for the highly fancied Italian, winning 15-13 in an intense duel. “I gave all I had to come back in my semi-final bout,” remarked De Marchi. “And during the gold medal match, I was extremely tired. In any case, my opponent was better than me today, because even though I knew what needed to do, I was unable to anticipate her attacks. She’s a great fencer.”

In the bronze medal match, Sweden’s Asa Linde picked up her country’s first-ever YOG fencing medal by beating Catherine Nixon. “I’m speechless. I’m so happy,” said the Scandinavian.

“I really wanted to take home a medal. When I lost my semi-final, my coach told me, ‘Focus on the next match and think about it later’, and it worked.”

Moseyko reigns supreme

There were no such surprises on the third day of fencing action, during which Russia’s Alina Moseyko cemented her reputation as one of the sport’s rising stars to add the YOG sabre title to her cadet world crown.

Moseyko, the world number one, was in impressive form all day, and put in an authoritative performance in the final against number six seed Chiara Crovari (ITA) to win 15-10. “I’m a little disappointed because I was in touching distance of the gold medal, but I’m content with the silver,” stated Crovari.

“Moseyko also knocked me out of the Cadet World Championships, and I clearly haven’t found a way of beating her yet. But at least this time I got a little closer,” she added.

Petra Zahonyi (HUN) gained an unexpected spot on the podium, getting the better of Japan’s Misaki Emura – third at Plovdiv 2014 – in a close contest (15-13).

“It’s wonderful to get a bronze in my first Youth Olympic Games – it means so much!” exclaimed the delighted medallist. “I didn’t expect a particular result, because I knew that anything could happen. I trained so hard all summer; it was worth it.”

Second gold for Lee Sinhee

The mixed continental team event on 20 August brought the fencing competition to a close in a spirit of international harmony, as the Asia-Oceania team won gold by overpowering a ‘Europe 1’ side that featured six reigning world cadet champions by a score of 30 to 26.

That meant Lee Sinhee, became the only fencer to land two golds at Nanjing 2014.

After finishing fourth in the women’s sabre, Misaki Emura ensured she would not be going home empty-handed, snatching a 5-5 draw with Alina Moseyko to secure gold for her team.
“The other team was very strong. It was packed full of world champions. But we managed to establish a powerful bond – that was our main strength today,” explained the Japanese athlete. “It was an interesting tournament,” added her team-mate, Karin Miyawaki. “Whenever I lost a point or had a dip in form, another team member was always there to keep us in it.”

Emura summed up the positive spirit of the event, saying: “I found out you can really count on other people. This event is centred on the idea of making connections with competitors from other countries and breaking down barriers. And that’s a great thing for the Youth Olympic Games.”

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Gustavo Kuerten: Rio 2016 Olympic Tennis Centre will allow the sport to flourish in Brazil

October 21st, 2014

Teamwork without borders on the range in Nanjing

October 21st, 2014

10m air pistol mixed teams

Teh Xiu Yi of Singapore and Ahmed Mohamed of Egypt had met at international competitions before the Youth Olympic Games, but in Nanjing they teamed up to win a silver medal together.

“We’ll definitely have something to talk about next time I see him. He’s a really good team-mate,” said Teh of Ahmed, after the pair finished second in the 10m air pistol mixed international team event on 21 August at the Fangshan Training Base.

Those sentiments were shared by Bulgaria’s Lidia Nencheva and Vladimir Svechnikov of Uzbekistan, after the pair won gold in the same event, defeating Teh and Ahmed 10-5 in the final.

That final was a festive affair and the crowds and competitors all contributed to the atmosphere. Svechnikov even entertained the crowds with his best Michael Jackson dance moves in between shots!

Emotions hit fever pitch when Nencheva fired the winning shot, letting out a cry of joy before she and her partner disappeared in a crowd of supporters, coaches and team-mates.

“It’s easy to explain our reaction,” Svechnikov commented. “When you’re the best in the world it feels incredible and it’s normal to be a bit overexcited.”

The athletes remarked that the new format, in which each team was made up of a man and a woman from different countries, encouraged them to give their very best not only for themselves and their country but also for their new friend and team-mate.

“The format for the shooting was quite difficult but we liked it and we think that it should be used in competitions in the future,” said Svechnikov. “This is a really big honour, not just for me and my teammate, but also for my country.”

The bronze medal went to Agate Rasmane of Latvia and Wilmar Madrid of Guatemala, who beat Chung Ting-Yu of Chinese Taipei and Zaven Igityan of Armenia 10-8 in the third place play-off.

The event, and the atmosphere surrounding it, delighted Franz Schreiber, Secretary-General of the International Shooting Sport Federation. “The main aim is to get together as many nations and young people as possible in a spirit of friendship so that they have the chance to meet each other,” he explained.

“Furthermore we wanted to get them together in a sporting setting – so that they could develop together in a competitive atmosphere.”

Schreiber likened the one-on-one format to a penalty shootout. “One of the main aims is to make our sport more accessible for spectators and to get them involved,” he continued. “They’re applauding, clapping their hands and they react instantly: our sport needs that.”

10m air rifle mixed teams

The international mixed team 10m air rifle on 22 August offered up a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Istvan Peni of Hungary became the only athlete in Nanjing to win two shooting medals, adding a gold to the bronze he won two days earlier in the men’s individual 10m air rifle competition.

Peni was on incredible form, hitting above 10 shot after shot. Only one of the female shooters could come anywhere near his level and that was his team mate Hadir Mekhimar (EGY).

Together they dominated 10-5 in the semi-final and 10-2 in the final to take gold ahead of Jose Santos Valdes Martinez (MEX) and Fernanda Russo (ARG).

“I’m holding the strangest thing,” said Peni, gold medal in hand. “I said before that winning bronze was the best thing ever and I really liked that medal, but when I saw my Hungarian teammates holding a gold medal I told myself that I really wanted one too and now I do!”

Viktoriya Sukhorukova of Ukraine and Lu Shao-Chuan of Chinese Taipei came out on top in the bronze medal match, winning 10-6 over Alina Riccardi from San Marino and her partner Andrija Milovanvic of Serbia.

Lasting friendships forged

The two mixed team events helped form friendships across borders that look set to endure long beyond Nanjing 2014.

Fernanda Russo and Jose Santos Valdes Martinez gave their interviews arm in arm after winning silver. They got to know each other earlier in the year and kept in contact, but were “surprised and happy” to be teamed up for the competition.

“She’s a great shooter and she can go on to do big things,” said Martinez of Russo. Returning the favour, she described him as “a good friend and a great partner.”

Like the silver-medal winning duo, Peni and Makhimar said they also planned to keep in touch. “You were really very good. Thank you, this victory is also down to your work,” Peni said to Mekhimar. The Egyptian responded in similar vein, saying, “This is my first medal and I’m really happy. You’re an excellent team-mate.”

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Calling all doctors! Rio 2016 looking for 5,000 volunteer healthcare professionals

October 20th, 2014

Five countries from the Americas book their places in shooting at Rio 2016 Olympic Games

October 20th, 2014

Nanjing 2014: Injury prevention advice at the Youth Olympic Village

October 20th, 2014

Youth Olympic Village residents who visited the Injury Prevention Booth were presented with a host of information and advice on different ways to prevent or look after injuries that could jeopardise their sporting careers.

“We help them to protect their health by teaching them how to train in a way that prevents injuries in their specific sports,” explained Dr Torbjorn Soligard, Project Officer for the IOC Medical and Scientific Department.

“We know from research and previous experiences that athletes who use their legs a lot tend to get lower-limb injuries, whereas in sports where the upper body is used, athletes get injuries in that part of their body. It’s very much related to what kind of movements you make in your sport.”

The booth featured a number of stations where athletes could practise a range of different exercises designed to help prevent injuries or aid recovery.

“I play table tennis, and I normally have trouble with my shoulder,” said Portuguese competitor Diego Chen. “That’s where most table tennis players suffer injuries. I think this is a good way to learn how to avoid aggravating your injuries, because you’re working specific parts of the body, which is good.”

Chen’s compatriot, trampolinist Pedro Ribeiro Ferriera, shared his positive outlook. “This is a very good idea, because sometimes we’re not sure about what kind of exercises we need to be doing to prevent the types of injuries we get. Learning how to perform those exercises has been pretty interesting.”

Finnish gymnast Jani Tanskanen, one of the Athlete Role Models at Nanjing 2014, summed up the initiative with some important advice for those embarking on a sporting career. “Variety is the key,” he remarked.

“There’s not just one special drill out there that will help you. You have to make these exercises an integral part of your training regime. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but it helps you to build up resistance and prevent injuries that come along, especially if you end up having a long career.”

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Girl power wows the fans in Nanjing

October 19th, 2014

Jiang Huihua opens China’s account 

Jiang Huihua cruised to victory in the women’s 48kg event on 17 August, to win China’s first medal of the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games.

Lifting 88kg in the snatch, she followed up with a 105kg hoist in the clean and jerk to finish with a total of 193kg, more than four times her body weight.

Korea DPR’s Ri Songgum and Latvia’s Rebeka Koha finished joint second on 165kg, but with body weight the deciding factor when opponents tie, the lighter Ri was awarded the silver.

“It’s OK,” said Koha after having to settle for bronze. “I did a couple of personal bests today and a medal is a really big thing.”

Koha took an early lead in the competition when she lifted 75kg with her third and final attempt in the snatch, though the outcome was never in doubt once Jiang hoisted 88kg, much to the delight of the crowd. The Chinese athlete underlined her superiority by lifting 105kg in the clean and jerk, leaving her well clear of her two nearest rivals.

“I’m very excited to get the first gold medal for the Chinese delegation,” Jiang said. “I’m proud of my performance but I have [a] little pity for the snatch because I failed in the second chance [85kg].”

She added: “I still have lots of things to do to improve my skill in the snatch, especially in the continuous movement.”

Pakkaratha stays strong to win gold

It was little surprise to see Korea DPR’s Jong Chun Hui and Thailand’s Rattanaphon Pakkaratha – ranked second and third respectively in the International Weightlifting Federation’s rankings – fight it out for gold in the 53kg class on 18 August.

The pair ended the snatch tied in first place on 81kg, though the Thai proved the stronger in the clean and jerk.

After Jong had failed at 105kg with the last of her three lifts, Pakkaratha clinched the title by raising 106kg on her second lift. She went on to lift 109kg to finish nine kilos clear of her opponent, blowing kisses to the audience as she stepped away from the competition zone and into the arms of her ecstatic coach.

“I’m very excited,” said the gold medallist, who recorded personal bests in both the snatch and the clean and jerk.

Tunisia’s Nouha Landoulsi and Venezuela’s Yorlis Zabala tied for third on 175kg, with Landoulsi taking the bronze thanks to her lighter body weight.

No sweat for Chiang Nien-Hsin

Chinese Taipei’s Chiang Nien-Hsin turned in a composed performance to take the 58kg gold on 19 August.

In contrast to her closest challenger, Russia’s Anastasiia Petrova, whose groans and grunts reverberated around the Nanjing International Exhibition Center, Chiang was calmness personified as she went about her work.

Lifting 88kg in the snatch to take a three-kilo lead over the Russian, the diminutive Chiang then stretched her lead with successive clean and jerks of 107kg, 111kg and 115kg to finish eight kilos clear of the field.

“I felt very calm,’’ Chiang said. “This is very moving.” 

Lying fourth after the snatch, one kilo behind Indonesia’s Acchedya Jagaddhita, Argentina’s Sasha Nievas lifted 95kg with her first clean-and-jerk attempt to move into the bronze-medal position. The South American ensured she would stay there after raising 100kg with her second lift, with Jagaddhita missing out on her last two attempts.

Ahmed makes history

Sara Ahmed made history on 21 August when she came out on top in the 63kg event, becoming the first Egyptian woman to win individual gold in an Olympic competition.

Dominating from start to finish, the 16-year-old began by lifting 103kg in the snatch and then outdid everyone by clean-and-jerking 125kg for a combined total of 228kg.

Relieved her preparations had paid off, an emotional Ahmed later said: “Many things helped me become the best. Hard work and training for more than two years, and my coach, who has supported me for two years. I’m very happy that I won the first gold medal for Egypt [at Nanjing 2014]. It’s the first Olympic title for me and I hope there will be more to come.”

The silver went to Ana Lilia Duran Ayon of Mexico, who lifted 90kg in the snatch and 120kg in the clean and jerk to edge out Ukraine’s Sofiya Zenchenko. Trailing the Mexican by two kilos after the snatch, the Ukrainian could not make up the deficit and had to settle for bronze.

Chaidee on the charge

Thailand’s Duanganksorn  Chaidee took the final gold of the women’s competition on 22 August, coming out 26kg ahead of her rivals to win the +63k event.

“I expected to win a medal but not the gold,” a delighted Chaidee said afterwards. “I think the people of Thailand will be very happy with my result.”

After tying with Kazakhstan’s Tatyana Kapustina for second place, Svetlana Shcherbakova of Russia pocketed the silver on account of her lighter body weight, while there was heartbreak for Ecuador’s Lisseth Betzaida Ayovi Cabezas.

Within striking distance of a medal after the snatch, she struggled in the clean and jerk and eventually came in fourth, prompting her to burst into tears. Her team-mates came to the rescue, however, forming a circle around her and giving her a big group hug.

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