Olympic.org picks out some of the most impressive performances from former Youth Olympic Games (YOG) athletes in recent weeks, as the YOG continue to provide a springboard to the global sporting stage.
Hungarian marksman István Péni added to his growing résumé in February, as he won gold in the men’s rifle at the European 10m Shooting Championships. The 23-year-old – who won individual bronze and mixed team gold at the YOG Nanjing 2014 – topped the podium in Wroclaw (Poland) with 250.5 points in the final, edging out Ukraine’s Oleh Tsarkov, who finished with 249.2. Israel’s Sergy Rikhter was third with 228.8 points. Péni – who took part in the Olympic Games Rio 2016 – also combined with compatriot Eszter Dénes to claim silver in the mixed team event.
YOG table tennis bronze medallist Hugo Calderano claimed his third successive ITTF Pan-America Cup title, as the Brazilian beat compatriot Gustavo Tsuboi in the final in Guaynabo (Puerto Rico). The 23-year-old – a singles bronze medallist at the YOG Nanjing 2014 – dropped just four sets as he dispatched Canada’s Jeremy Hazin, Argentina’s Horacio Cifuentes and Paraguay’s Marcelo Aguirre en route to the final. He then secured the title 11-3, 11-5, 11-13, 11-3, 11-6 against Tsuboi. The women’s event saw fellow YOG bronze medallist Lily Zhang, of the USA, claim silver after she lost the final to Puerto Rico’s Adriana Díaz.
Less than a month after wowing judges and fans alike as she won gold at the Winter YOG Lausanne 2020, Korean figure skater You Young made a similarly impressive impact on the senior stage. Competing at the prestigious Four Continents Championships for the first time, the 15-year-old skated to a personal best score of 149.68 points in the free skate to clinch the silver medal behind Japan’s Rika Kihira. You’s combined total of 223.23 points was also a personal best, as she became the first Korean skater to win a medal at the Four Continents since Olympic champion Yuna Kim won the event in 2009.
At the African Wrestling Championships in Algiers (Algeria), YOG silver medallist Fateh Benferdjallah helped the host nation top the medal standings as he clinched bronze in the men’s freestyle 86kg event. The Algerian – a silver medallist at Buenos Aires 2018 – defeated Tunisia’s Sabri Mnasriya to win bronze in Algiers, after losing to the eventual gold medallist, Egypt’s Khaled Elmoatamadawi, in the semi-finals.
Akane Yamaguchi helped lead Japan to the women’s title at the 2020 Badminton Asia Team Championships, held in the Philippines from 11 to 16 February. The 22-year-old – who won women’s singles silver at the YOG Nanjing 2014 – lost her opening match to Malaysia’s Soniia Cheah as Japan secured a narrow 3-2 victory in the group stage, but then returned to form to beat Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska Tunjung in the quarter-final clash. Yamaguchi then avenged her defeat to Cheah in the last four, as her 21-17 21-18 victory helped Japan claim a convincing 3-0 win and a place in the final against the Republic of Korea. Playing the lead-off match, Yamaguchi gave her team the perfect start as she beat An Se-young 21-18 19-21 23-21, with Japan eventually securing the title with a 3-0 win.
At the 2020 IBSF World Championships, Germany’s Jacqueline Lölling combined with compatriot Alexander Gassner to win gold in the skeleton mixed team event. The Olympic silver medallist, who won gold at the Winter YOG Innsbruck 2012, also came close to making the podium in the women’s event, as she missed out on the bronze medal by just 0.18 seconds.
At the 2020 FIL World Luge Championships – which were held at the Sanki Sliding Centre in Sochi (Russia), the host track for the Olympic Winter Games 2014 – Austria’s Olympic champion David Gleirscher came agonisingly close to adding a world title to his résumé, as he missed out on gold in the men’s sprint by just 0.006 seconds. The 25-year-old – who competed at the Winter YOG Innsbruck 2012 – posted a time of 34.907 seconds, but was beaten by Russia’s Roman Repilov by the narrowest of margins. The result does, however, continue Gleirscher’s recent good form, following his maiden Luge World Cup victory in January.