China, the most powerful youth track and field team in the world, claimed 12 gold medals at the Australian Youth Olympic festival, held in Sydney last week.
Over 1400 teenage athletes from 25 nations contested the third Australian Youth Olympic Festival, a multi-sport international youth competition hosted by the Australian Olympic Committee. Previously held in 2001 and 2003, the AYOF is a legacy from the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
The international teams from New Zealand and particularly China, provided superb competition for the Australians. Half the Chinese team of 23 athletes, were the best in the world for their age.
Exciting Shot Put competition
Billed as the clash of the meet, the women's Shot Put lived up to all expectations with a dramatic competition between World No 1 Jiang Limin (CHN) and World No 3 Dani Samuels (AUS). Jiang started well with a putt of 15.10m, but in round two Samuels took the lead with a tremendous 15.30m put. A surprise was on the cards, until Jiang grabbed the lead by just 3cm on her very last throw with a distance of 15.33m. Samuels had just one more chance and she rose to the occasion with an awesome effort of 15.50m to equal her personal best, clinch victory and defeat the current IAAF World Youth champion.
An elated Samuels explained later that she felt she could achieve a personal best and would “give her (Jiang) a run for her money”. During the competition Samuels said she kept an eye on her opposition but was primarily concentrating on her own throws. For Samuels, the most pleasing aspect was “I performed well when it counted.”
In contrast, Jiang described her performance as “not good; I was not in shape and weary after the long travel yesterday”. However she did enjoy the competition. Her season commences in earnest next month with some indoor competitions in China. Samuels and Jiang Limin should next go head-to-head at the 2005 IAAF World Youth Championships in Morocco in July.
Competing in her second AYOF, Australia’s throwing star, Dani Samuels was back in the circle on day two. On this occasion she was up against the clear number 1 discus thrower in the World, China’s Tan Jian. But unlike the shot the previous day, where Samuels sprung a surprise, China’s Tan Jian stamped her authority in the very first round with a lifetime best throw of 57.01m. Effectively the competition was over, but Samuels rallied well reaching a near personal best of 51.80m.
“I was happy with my result but my technique wasn’t too good. My first throw was good and my finishing phase was very good, but I wasn’t happy with the start of my throws.” Said Tan Jian. “It was a PB in competition but not overall. I have thrown 59.70m back home in training.”
Tan Jian is from Sichun, a town in China’s west. But this winter (last three months) she moved to Beijing so she could train with an elite squad at the centre there. She was shy about what her dreams for the future are: “First I will try for 65m,” she said. But the Beijing Olympics is definitely in her sights as she is ranked 11th overall in China and has a lot of improvements she believes she can make to her technique.
Preparing for World Youth Championships
One of the undoubted stars of the meet was the Sunshine Coast’s Chris Noffke (AUS). Noffke is ranked No. 1 in the World at under 18 and had no trouble beating a competitive field, which included World No. 2 Lin Huadeng. By leaping 7.61m he set a new meet record and, despite the fact that was a little short of his best, Chris was happy to be performing so well so early in his preparation for July’s IAAF World Youth Championships in Morocco. “It’s just the start of the season,” he said, “and I’m just starting to freshen up a bit.”
In particular Chris has benefited from working with Olympian Bronwyn Thompson who, as well as providing priceless technical hints, has passed on an invaluable message. “She just shows that dreams can come true if you believe you can do it,” said Noffke.
An interested spectator at the AYOF was Australia’s Athens 20km Walk medallist, Jane Saville, who witnessed China’s two outstanding race walkers, Li Gabo and Chai Xue who completed dominated their events. However China’s world leading high jumpers, Zheng Xingjuan and Huang Haiqiang ran into inform Australian’s Sophia Begg and Liam Zamel-Paez, who cleared outstanding heights of 1.86m and 2.16m respectively, to take the titles.
At 1.81m tall, Zamel-Paez was the shortest in the elite field but said his recent training had given him confidence. “I was the shortest person out there so it could have been a disadvantage but it didn’t affect me,” she said.
Zamel-Paez trains only three times a week and is coached by his parents, with input from Swedish star Staffan Strand (PB 2.35m), who the 16-year-old corresponds with through e-mail.
“Doing 2.10m lifted a weight off my shoulders, so I felt pretty relaxed after that. In jumping 2.10m, I thought I would probably win it and I had been hoping to clear 2.13m,” he said. “At 2.20m, the first two attempts were a bit off, I think because of the height, but the third was all right.”
Likewise, New Zealander Tim Jones, who broke his personal best by almost half a second in winning the men’s 200m sprint, is an accomplished rugby winger and full back and has recently been selected to represent the “Baby Blacks”: New Zealand’s formidable under 17 rugby team.
He was delighted with his PB of 22.06, achieved into slight headwind, in the 200m though, saying he had “been working towards a performance like that all season.” Queenslander Ken Bridger grabbed second in 22.17 and Victorian Joshua Ross third in 22.25.
David Tarbotton for the IAAF
Australia G-24, S-32, B-36, T-92
China G-12, S-8, B-1, T-21
New Zealand G-4, S-0, B-3, T-7
(w: 2.6) 1, Olivia Tauro AUS, 11.83. 2, Madelin Poke AUS, 11.99. 3, Deng Hailian CHI, 12.03
(w: +0.0) 1, Madelin Poke AUS, 24.32. 2, Liang Qiuping CHI, 24.49. 3, Olivia Tauro AUS, 24.51. 4, Mim Hill AUS, 24.59
1, Carly Feben AUS, 55.66
1, Zoe Buckman AUS, 2:08.84
1, Zoe Buckman AUS, 4:41.60
1, Jenny Conder AUS, 9:47.22
100m Hurdles (76cm)
(w: 3.1) 1, Tara Holt AUS, 13.82. 2, Charlotte Yeates AUS, 13.90.
1, Lauren Boden AUS, 60.54
1, Ashlea Gilfillan AUS, 6:49.14
5000m Race Walk
1, Chai Xue, CHI 23:16.73. 2, Tanya Holliday AUS, 24:37.60
1, Australia 48.04.
4x400 Metre Relay
1, Australia 3:48.21
1, Sophia Begg AUS, 1.86m. 2, Zheng XingJuan CHI 1.75m. 3, Lauren Ford, AUS, 1.75m
1, Zhou Yang CHN, 3.80m, 2, Rachel Birtles AUS, 3.80m, 3, Vicky Parnov AUS, 3.75m, 4, Miranda Tiong AUS, 3.70m
1, Sha Li CHI 6.18m, w:-0.1. 2, Grace Scantlebury AUS 5.96m, w:3.6. 3, Candice Morley AUS 5.91m
1, Sha Li CHI, 13.28m, w:-1.0. 2, Alyisha House AUS, 12.20m, w:-1.4.
1, Dani Samuels AUS, 15.50m. 2, Jiang Limin, CHI, 15.33m.
1, Tan Jian CHI, 57.01m. 2, Dani Samuels AUS, 51.80m.
1, Li Juan CHI, 51.65m
1, Li Lingwei CHI, 51.19m. 2, Laura Cornford AUS, 45.14m
(w: 2.2) 1, Heath Goodall AUS, 10.83. 2, Huang Xing Wei, CHI, 10.89. 3, Joshua Ross AUS, 10.90
(w: -0.4) 1, Brendan Watt, AUS 22.02
1, Liu Xiaosheng CHI, 48.49
Ryan Foster AUS, 1:54.77
1, Julian Matthews NZL, 4:05.77
1, Terefe Ejigu NZL, 8:56.49
110m Hurdles (91cm)
(w: 2.7) 1, Lachlan Stanton AUS, 13.89. 2, Hong Xiaofeng CHI, 14.01. 3, Brett Watton AUS, 14.03
400m Hurdles (84cm)
1, Mark Watts AUS 54.07
5000m Race Walk
1, Li Gabo CHI, 20:54.76
1, Australia 42.39
1, Australia 3:20.34
1, Liam Zamel-Paez AUS, 2.16m. Brendan Sutcliffe AUS, 2.10m
1, Michael Leask AUS, 4.60m
1, Chris Noffke AUS 7.61m, w:1.0. 2, Lin Huadeng CHI 7.39m, w:-1.2.
1, Scott McLeod-Roberts AUS, 14.95m, w:3.9. 2, Li Min CHI, 14.71m, w:2.7.
Shot Put (5kg)
1, Emanuele Fuamatu AUS, 19.16m. 2, Fan Wei CHI, 18.96m. 3, Joe Stevens AUS 18.24m. 4, Dale Stevenson AUS, 18.12m
Discus Throw (1.5kg)
1, Xin Jia CHI, 61.97m
Hammer Throw (5kg)
1, Zhou Heng CHI, 71.26m.
Javelin Throw (700g)
1, Jin Chao CHI, 66.07m. 2, Nathan Burgess, AUS, 62.73m.