The Youth Olympic Games girls were out in full force again yesterday, as they kept a firm grip at the table tennis on the opening day of play. Diving to Olympic success were the USA’s Ariel Hsing, Egypt’s Dina Meshref and Caroline Kumaharah from Brazil.
With a turn-out of 4,000 fans, understandably the Youth Olympic Games alumni were nervous. Caroline, who had to take on the roars of Team Great Britain’s supporters, missed out to the home crowd’s own Joanna Parker: “These Games are really different from Singapore,” she told us. “It’s a lot bigger, the competition is tougher and you have a different atmosphere.”
Dina, who won narrowly against Yana Noskova of Russia in a truly epic game, carries the same message, advising budding athletes to “concentrate on the Games and forget the crowds.” Trying not to let the magnitude of the competition overwhelm her, Dina is aiming high: “It’s only my first Games. I still have a lot more to come!”
Aged just 16, Team USA’s Ariel also made the most of her first Olympic appearance as she defeated Mexico’s Yadira Silva in four straight games. “I trained really hard for this. I practised with my team mates and went over what I thought my opponent would do.” Dina and Ariel will both play again later today. Let’s hope they can swing to a medal!
The Youth Olympic Games boys had their first taste of success yesterday, as well.
Raising the bar for Team Great Britain, 19 year-old Sam Oldham helped lead the host nation to the Olympic Games’ team artistic gymnastic final for the first time in 87 years. Speaking after the qualifications, he told us: “The Youth Olympic Games were amazing, but these Games are a lot bigger, and performing in our home country is just crazy and overwhelming.”
Having spent the last two months solid in a gym, Sam also revealed: “This is the moment we’ve been preparing for all our lives.” And for those budding Sam Oldhams, he gave some wise advice: “Train hard, there’s no two ways about it, and make sure you enjoy the sport, otherwise there’s just no point.”
Poolside, South African swimmer Chad le Clos finished fifth in the men’s 400m Individual Medley final last night. Chad gave a sterling performance in his heat, winning convincingly with an astounding time of 4.12.24 and beating Youth Olympic Games Ambassador Michael Phelps’ time of 4.13.33 in the process. He may not have made the podium this time, but Chad’s campaign continues in earnest with six more medals to play for!
Well done to all our Youth Olympic Games athletes. You are doing us proud!