olympic.org picks out some of the most eye-catching performances from former Youth Olympic Games (YOG) athletes in recent weeks, as the YOG continue to provide a springboard to the international stage.
Salwa Eid Naser
Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser produced one of the most stunning performances of the IAAF World Championships in Doha (Qatar) on 3 October, as she became the third-fastest female 400m runner in history when clinching gold in 48.14 seconds. The 21-year-old – who won silver in the 400m at the YOG Nanjing 2014 – knocked almost a full second off her previous best of 49.08, as she defeated the seemingly unbeatable Shaunae Mille-Uibo, with the Bahamian Olympic champion having to settle for silver, despite clocking a personal best of 48.37. Naser’s winning time was the quickest by any female 400m sprinter in 34 years and followed up the silver medal she won at the 2017 IAAF World Championships.
Russia’s Nikita Nagornyy stole the show in the men’s events at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, which were held in Stuttgart (Germany), from 4 to 13 October, as he won three gold medals. The 22-year-old – who previously starred at the YOG Nanjing 2014, winning five medals, including three golds – began by helping Russia to the top of the podium in the team event, finishing almost one full point ahead of 2018 champions China. Nagornyy then scored a total of 88.772 points in the men’s all-around event to clinch gold ahead of compatriot and defending champion Artur Dalaloyan, and Olympic gold medallist Oleg Verniaiev. Nagornyy also qualified for the apparatus finals in both the floor exercise and vault, eventually winning his third gold medal in the latter, narrowly finishing ahead of Dalaloyan once again.
Tang Xijing provided one of the biggest surprises at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart, as she clinched a silver medal in the women’s all-around event, with a Chinese women’s all-time record high score of 56.899. Competing in her first major international event, the 16-year-old – who won gold and bronze medals at the YOG Buenos Aires 2018 – had initially missed out on a place in the all-around final, having qualified third-best of China's gymnasts, with only two per country allowed in the final round. Tang was later drafted in to replace team-mate Liu Tingting, after she fell on two routines in the team final, and went on to clinch the first all-around medal won by a Chinese woman at world or Olympic level since 2011.
US sprinter Noah Lyles finally had the chance to fulfil his potential on the global stage as he surged his way to the men’s 200m title at the IAAF World Championships on 1 October. The 22-year-old, who almost qualified for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 as a teenager before missing the 2017 World Championships through injury, has had to wait for his opportunity to perform at a major senior event, having established himself as a sprint star in-waiting by winning the 2014 YOG 200m title and 2016 IAAF Under-20 100m crown. Following a superb 2019 season, which had already seen him clock 19.50 seconds to become the fourth-fastest man in history over 200m, Lyles was able to secure his first global title in Doha with a more workmanlike performance, crossing the line in 19.83s to finish ahead of Canada’s Olympic silver medallist Andre De Grasse (19.95s) and Ecuador’s Álex Quiñónez (19.98s).
Just a year after dominating the women’s gymnastics events at the YOG Buenos Aires 2018 – where she won three gold medals and a silver – Giorgia Villa clinched her first major senior medal as she helped Italy finish third in the team event at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. The 16-year-old competed in all four disciplines in the final, as Italy clinched their first team medal at the World Championships since 1950. The result also secured Italy’s qualification for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
In addition to helping Great Britain to a sixth-place finish in the women’s team event at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart, Ellie Downie also clinched bronze in the vault to secure her first individual World Championships medal. The 20-year-old, who won four medals at the YOG Nanjing 2014, performed a Double-Twisting Yurchenko and a Cheng in the vault final, earning an average score of 14.816 and winning the bronze medal behind Americans Simone Biles and Jade Carey.