A record number of 46 countries won medals at the 6th IAAF World Youth Championships here in Bressanone to conclude an exceptional edition of the 5-day competition.
The previous best had been set at the last edition of these championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic two years ago where 40 countries managed to place at least one athlete on a podium.
Israel, Thailand and Uzbekistan straight gold medals
It is a massive improvement over the 30 countries that had medalled at the original World Youth Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland ten years ago to understate the worldwide development of track and field athletics over the last decade.
Here in Bressanone, no fewer than 9 nations made their first ever entry on the medal table of a World Youth Championships with Thailand, Uzbekistan and Israel being notable winners of their first gold medal.
Supanara S.N.A went one better as the 17-year-old Thai caught the world’s attention winning the boys’ Long Jump gold and the Triple Jump silver for what will be remembered as his country’s first ever medals of any colour and any age category in the history of the Athletics World Championships.
Winner of the girls’ Javelin Throw, Anastasiya Svechnikova made history as the first ever medallist and champion for Uzbekistan in the history of the World Youth Championships.
Israel also achieved his first World Youth gold medal courtesy of Dmitriy Kroyter a superb winner of the boys’ High Jump at 2.20.
Other new entries in the medal table included Denmark, Samoa, Tajikistan, Turkey, Eritrea and the US Virgin Islands.
Among the nations who won their first World Youth gold here in Bressanone (but had previously featured on the medal table with at least one minor medal) Chinese Tapei with Shih-Feng Huang’s victory in the boys’ Javelin Throw and Korea with Minshub Jin personal best gold medal winning 5.15 in the boys’ Pole Vault were the highlight of the final afternoon. Slovenia also grabbed its first gold after two bronze medals in Ostrava with Barbara Spiler’s victory in the girls’ Hammer Throw.
James and Williams stand out individually
Individually, Grenada’s Kirani James and Great Britain’s Jodie Williams were the best performers with two individual gold medals each , a new Championship record for James and new World leading times for Williams.
15-year-old Williams became only the second ever Youth to accomplish the sprint double – and the first ever girl – following compatriot Harry Aikines-Aryeetey who won the 100 and 200 at the Marrakech edition of the competition in 2005.
Williams set a new World Youth leading time of 11.39 to clinch gold with 8 thousands of a second to spare over the US Virgin Islands representative Allison Peter. The two returned to action in the half lap race and although the outcome was the same with Williams taking her second title and Peter her second silver, the race was a much closer affair as only two thousands of a second separated the two teenagers.
It was another World Youth Leading time for Williams.
The 16-year-old who had already grabbed two silver medals, one in Ostrava’s World Youths and one at Bydgoszcz’ World Juniors last year, James has doubled his take in the space of five days.
James who ran three heats in the 400 and then three races in the 200 clocked a 45.24 Championship record to win the one-lap race in a time quicker than Usain Bolt’s best at the same age. James' time stands in fifth on the all-time list only one tenth off the World Youth best time.
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In the shorter sprint, it was Bolt’s mark that James was chasing but the Grenadian lanky teenager had to be content with a winning time of 21.05 , over 6 tenths off Bolt’s Championship record of 20.40 set in Sherbrooke six years ago.
Other double medallists include US Ryan Crouser winner of the boys’ Shot Put and runner up in the Discus Throw, Thailand’s Supanara with a gold and a silver, Peter of the US Virgin Island who conquered 2 silver medals in the 100 and 200 and Ashton Purvis of the US a double bronze medallist in the girls’ sprints.
Kenya tops medal table
For the first time since the inaugural edition of the Championships Kenya topped the final medal table with 6 golds, 7 silvers and 1 bronze medals with an incredible tally of 7 medals (4 golds and 3 silvers) grabbed on the last afternoon alone!
The United States of America who had won been at the top of the medal table in the four previous editions finished second this time around with 6 gold, 5 silver and 5 bronze medals. The US were however top of the placing table (which adds points for each individual finalist up to eighth position) with 167 ahead of Kenya at 108 points and Germany at 95 points.
Great Britain was third overall with four gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze medals for what was by far their best showing in this age category global championships.
Five doubles - three of which on the last competition day - were recorded at these IAAF World Youth Championships notably four achieved by the Kenyans who went one-two in the boys’ and girls’ 3000m and the boys’ 1500m and boys’ 2000m Steeplechase and the gold and silver winning performance by the Swedes in the girls’ Pole Vault.
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF