Norge Sotomayor of Cuba, 2009 World Youth champion, takes 400m Hurdles glory in Singapore (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News 23 August 2010 – Singapore

Athletics programme of Youth Olympic Games ends on high note in Singapore – Day 6

Singapore - The athletics competitions came to end at the Singapore Youth Olympic Games (YOG) today. Medals were awarded in the final 12 boy's and girl's events.

France, Cuba and Spain brought the count of countries with a gold medal to 22 in the 34 individual events contested.  Kenya and Russia led the way with three each.

There was a broad range in the age span of the winners with just over half (18) aged 17. Fourteen others were 16-year-old champions and Odane Skeen in the boy's 100 metres and Gladys Chesire in the girl's 3000 metres were 15 years old.

Next generation champion in Hammer Throw

Yuriy Sedykh, the World record holder in the Hammer Throw, watched the girl's event from the stands. He commented afterwards that it was, "a miserable competition" obviously referring to the persistent rain which caused numerous delays and made for a slippery throwing ring.
But at the awards presentation a beaming Sedykh gave a passionate embrace to a special champion, his 16-year-old daughter Alexia.

She couldn't produce a fair mark in her first two attempts ("I think she was trying to kill us," said Yuriy afterwards), but came up big on number three at 59.08m. Alena Navahrodskaya (57.34m) of Belarus and Xia Youlian (56.62m) of China took the other medals.

Perhaps nobody in the world could have chosen better parents for athletic success as Alexia's mother is also a still-standing throwing event world record holder, Natalya Lisovaskaya in the Shot Put.

The family lives in Paris where Yuriy teaches physical education at Leonardo Da Vinci University so Alexia wears the colours of France.

"I started throwing the hammer when I was 10 years old," said Alexis. "I tried the Shot Put, too, but felt better at the Hammer. My gold medal is for my parents, too."

The boy's hammer throwers also had to deal with wet conditions and pre-meet favourite, Sebastian Dobkowski of Poland did not even earn a medal. China's Liu Binbin produced two personal bests, his last throw reaching 73.99m for the gold. Cyprus had its first medal winner with Alexandros Poursanidis taking silver (70.30m); Balzas Toreky of Hungary (70.13m) claimed the bronze.

Croatian Ivan Horvat, a 5.26m pole vaulter this year, fell victim to a wet runway on his last attempt at 4.85m as he slipped and couldn't plant his pole cleanly. The gold medal was awarded to Spain's Didac Salas over Brazil's Thiago da Silva. Both cleared 5.15m but the color of the medals was decided three heights earlier at 4.70m when Salas cleared on his first attempt, but da Silva on his second. Theodoros Chrysanthopoulos of Greece was the bronze medallist at 4.95m.

Kenyan Steeplechase tradition continues

Boy's Steeplechase champion Peter Matheka Mutuku said after his win tonight, "This is our traditional event. Kenya has to win in every championship."

Another tradition may have begun at the World Youth Olympic Games as Kenyans swept the boys and girls gold medals.

The girl's race developed into the expected showdown between Kenyan Virginia Nyambura and Ethiopian Tsehynesh Tsenga. Although Tsenga led halfway through she had no answer for Nyambura's finishing kick. The Kenyan set a personal best of 6:29.73 to finish almost eight seconds ahead of Tsenga (6:37.81). The final medal went to Oksana Raita of the Ukraine (6:41.49).

In the qualifying round, Ethiopian Habtamu Fayisa had run down Mutuku, but tonight Mutuku would not be caught. "My coach said save your energy for the last stretch to beat Fayisa and that is what I did," said Mutuku. A personal best 5:37.83 carried him to gold with Fayisa at 5:39.10 for the silver and Uganda's Zakaria Kiprotich at 5:41.25 for the bronze.

Another championship gold for two runners

Tizita Bogale Ashame of Ethiopia joined Swedish pole vaulter Angelica Bengtsson as the only athletes to win gold medals at both the IAAF World Junior Championships last month and the Youth Olympic Games.  Bogale sprinted hard over the last 200 metres of the 1000 metres race to set a new PB of 2:43.24.

Norge Sotomayor of Cuba also joined Bengtsson as a different type of double gold medal champion. The Cuban was the 2009 World Youth champion in the 400m Hurdles with tonight's contest a close affair as he took a 50.69 to 50.81 victory over India's Kumar Durgesh who produced a PB. Kenyan William Mbewi (51.23 PB) was the bronze medallist.

Four boys and five girls champions at the Youth Olympics were born in 1994 so there will another opportunity for these nine to strike gold again in next year's IAAF World Youth Championships.

Competition ends on multinational note

The final events of the track and field competitions were the medley relays. Consisting of legs of 100m, 200m, 300m and 400m the five teams on the track represented the Olympic Continental Areas of Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

Odane Skeen of Jamaica earned his second gold medal of the YOG as he keyed the Americas to victory in the boy's race. The 100 metres champion here, he ran the 200 metres leg and opened up enough of a lead to secure the gold medal. Caio dos Santos (Brazil, Long Jump gold medallist), Najee Glass (USA, 400m 6th place) and Luguelin Santos (Dominican Republic, 400m gold medal) formed the rest of the quartet that posted a time of 1:51.38. Europe won the silver medal in 1:52.11 and Oceania won the bronze in 1:52.71.

The Americas were also unbeatable in the girl's relay. Anchored by 400 metres gold medalist Robin Reynolds of the USA, they won in 2:05.62. Myasia Jacobs (USA, 100m silver medal), Tynia Gather (Bahamas, 200m silver medal) and Rashan Brown (Bahamas, 400m, fourth) covered the first 600 metres. The other medals went to Africa (2:06.19) and Europe (2:07.59).

"We started practicing at 6 am," said Reynolds. "The relay was a great way to show off our speed and end the day."

And end an historic inaugural Youth Olympic Games.

Marty Post for the IAAF