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.
The career of US freestyle skier Alex Hall continues to go from strength to strength, with the 21-year-old clinching his first big air victory in the FIS World Cup at the season-opening event in Modena (Italy) on 3 November. Hall, who won slopestyle silver at the Winter YOG Lillehammer 2016, scored 92.25 on his first jump and 91.75 on his second to land on the top of the leaderboard. The victory follows his big air gold medal at the X Games Norway in August, and continues a strong run of performances dating back to last season, when Hall finished second in big air in Modena; won a World Cup event and an X Games Aspen gold medal in slopestyle; and finished fourth in big air at the World Championships.
Rasmus Wranå celebrated completing a hat-trick of continental titles as part of Niklas Edin’s victorious Swedish team at the 2019 European Curling Championships in November. Wranå, who skipped the Swedish mixed curling team to bronze at the Winter YOG Innsbruck 2012, has enjoyed huge success since joining up with Edin in 2016, claiming two world titles and a silver medal at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, as well as three European crowns. Their latest continental title saw the team of Edin, Wranå, Oskar Eriksson, Christoffer Sundgren and alternate Daniel
Magnusson finish the tournament unbeaten, as they secured gold with a convincing 9-3 victory over Switzerland in the final.
Hungary’s Tímea Babos and her French doubles partner Kristina Mladenovic made history at the 2019 WTA Finals, which concluded on 3 November in Shenzhen (China). A 6-1 6-3 victory over Hsieh Su-Wei and Barbora Strycova in the final saw the defending champions become the first pairing to win back-to-back doubles titles at the WTA's prestigious season-ending event since Cara Black and Liezel Huber in 2007-2008. Added to her WTA victory alongside Andrea Sestini-Hlavackova in 2017, Babos – who won doubles bronze at the YOG Singapore 2010 – also became the first woman to win three consecutive doubles titles at the WTA finals since Lindsay Davenport (1996-1998).
Summer Britcher and Tucker West
American lugers Summer Britcher and Tucker West both enjoyed solid starts to the 2019-2020 Luge World Cup, with each winning two silver medals from the opening two events. The first race of the season saw Britcher finish second at the Olympic Sliding Centre in Innsbruck (Austria), where she and West had previously teamed up to claim YOG gold in the first-ever mixed team relay event. The 25-year-old clocked 40.693s and 40.721s from her two runs to finish just 0.11s behind winner Tatiana Ivanova. The following week, at the season’s second event in Lake Placid (USA), West won silver in both the men’s singles and the sprint, while Britcher also won silver in the women’s sprint.
Sun Yingsha and Fan Zhendong
The 2019 ITTF Team World Cup – held in Tokyo (Japan) from 6 to 10 November – proved to be a happy hunting ground for China’s dominant table tennis stars, with the country winning both the men’s and women’s titles. YOG Buenos Aires 2018 gold medallist Sun Yingsha continued her assault on the senior ranks as she played a key role in the women’s event, beating fellow YOG graduate Lily Zhang, of the USA, in the quarter-finals before defeating Japan’s Mima Ito in the final as China cruised to victory. The men’s event, meanwhile, saw double YOG gold medallist and world number one Fan Zhendong lead the Chinese team to gold with a series of dominant displays.
Swedish golfer Marcus Kinhult came agonisingly close to winning the biggest prize in European Tour history at November’s Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa, with the 23-year-old losing in a play-off to Great Britain’s Tommy Fleetwood, who cashed a record USD 2.5 million winner’s cheque. Kinhult – the men’s individual silver medallist and mixed team gold medallist at the YOG Nanjing 2014 – had entered the final round trailing overnight leader Zander Lombard by three strokes. But while the South African faded with a round of 77, Kinhult shot 68 to finish at 12-under and tie with clubhouse leader Fleetwood, whose closing 65 included an incredible three eagles. The duo replayed the 18th to decide the winner, with Kinhult carding a bogey to Fleetwood’s par as he failed to recover from a poor drive.