David Bolarinwa of Great Britain competes in the boys 100m heat at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore (XINHUA /SYOGOC-Pool/ Liao Yujie) © Copyright
General News 18 August 2010 – Singapore

Favourites continue to shine in Singapore - Youth Olympic Games, Day 2

SingaporeThe second day of track and field competition took place at the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympic Games with qualifying rounds in 11 events.

The boys contested the 100m, 1000m, 2000m Steeplechase, Long Jump, Shot Put and Javelin Throw. However, a heavy downpour in late morning prevented the field from completing the last of four allotted attempts and this will be resumed on Thursday. The girls competed in the 100m, 2000m Steeplechase, High Jump, Shot Put and Javelin.

The top eight finishers by time in the 100m races qualified for the A final to be held on Saturday evening. The next eight were seeded into the B final, followed by C and D finals. The fastest half of the boys 1000m will participate in Sunday's medal race with the slower half in an earlier consolation race. A similar division of finishers will apply to both 2000m Steeplechase finals on Monday morning.

The field events follow similar division of top mark protocols with all finals to be held Sunday.

Steeplechasers obliterate yearly list

If there is any event at which Kenyans have been a dominant force it has been the Steeplechase. At the first half of the trials for the 2000m event here it looked like Peter Matheka Mutuku would be following in the footsteps of his countrymen. In what seemed to preview an upcoming gold medal, he broke to an early big lead and passed the first kilometre in 2:50.17.

Ethiopian Habtamu Fayisa, however, decided he was not just going to follow in Mutuku's wake and over the final lap he ran the Kenyan down to cross the finish line in 5:38.62, a tenth of a second ahead of Mutuku. Not only did they both set PBs and break the previous Singapore all-comer's record of 5:44.2, but along with third finisher Zakaria Kiprotich of Uganda (5:44.51) and Waleed Elayah of Yemen (5:51.58) rewrote the 2010 yearly list which had been topped at 5:53.17. Six of the top seven finishers going to the final will be from Africa.

The girl's Steeplechase ended up being another tussle between an Ethiopian and a Kenyan. Tsehynesh Tsale Tsenga, the second fastest of the year (6:35.28), and Virginia Nyambura, number three (6:37.0), ran down the final backstraight side by side. Suddenly Tsale stumbled over the final water jump and she wound up almost four seconds in arrears, 6:46.08 to 6:42.40.

Mohammed Geleto of Ethiopia, the 2010 leader for 1000m, won his heat of that race in 2:24.40. The other heat went to Great Britain's Charlie Grice in 2:24.74.

Personal best splurge in boys Javelin

In what may have been an unprecedented occurrence in any event (at any level?) an astonishing eight of the top nine placers in the boys javelin achieved new personal bests in the qualifying round. The only who did not was the leader at 77.27m, Braiain Toledo of Argentina, but that was most understandable. Earlier in the year he threw the 700g implement a huge Youth World Best Performance of 89.34m.

Gu Siyu of China looked to have a clear path to the Shot Put gold medal since her pre-YOG world leader of 15.91m was almost a metre better than any other girl in the field. Siyu came up with a 15.71m here but was edged out by a shock throw of Poland's Anna Wloka who came up with a 15.77m effort, the first time she had gone beyond 15 metres.

Six girls cleared the top height of 1.76m in the High Jump, four without a miss. One of those was Russian Maria Kuchina, who has the year's three highest marks, and another was Alessia Trost, who has the next two.

The pattern of 2010 youth leaders also posting the best qualifying marks continued in the boy's Long Jump and girl's Javelin. In the former event Caio Cezar dos Santos of Brazil (7.73m best) came close to that in his only fair jump, 7.66m, and it was 10cm better than the rest. Lismania Munoz Barcelay of Cuba (55.68m PB) came up just one centimetre short of 52m and was the only one to throw the javelin beyond 50m.

Another fast Jamaican in 100m

While the YOG has drawn an impressive number of top performers in every event, the girl's sprints figures to be most affected by a notable absence.

British sprint phenom Jodie Williams, still a 16-year-old, had reportedly won more than 150 consecutive races until stopped in the 200m at the recent World Junior Championships. She took the 100m gold medal there and with a year's best of 11.24 and would have been an overwhelming favourite in Singapore. (Note: she could have also opted for the 200m, but not competed in both events per YOG rules.)

The times in the girl's 100m heats were relatively modest, with the fastest at 11.70 by Fanny Chalas of the Dominican Republic. Myasia Jacobs of the USA, Annie Tagoe of Great Britain and Josephine Omaka of Nigeria were the only other girls under 12 seconds.

Odane Skeen of Jamaica also faced a choice of running the 200m (where he was second in the world at 20.84) or the 100m (third at 10.46), and he chose the latter. He dreams of emulating legendary countrymen Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell, but Skeen, who does not turn 16 until two days after the Closing Ceremony, has the opportunity to do something the other two never did: win a Youth Olympics Gold Medal.

With a smooth late race burst Skeen took his heat in 10.63. However Great Britain's David Bolarinwa won his heat a hundredth faster in 10.62.

Just before the YOG when Skeen learned that Bolarinwa had overtaken him as 2010's fastest boy he promised, "It doesn't change anything. I am still going to win the gold medal."

A great showdown is expected in the finals, the concluding event of Saturday evening's session.

Marty Post for the IAAF