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#YOGWatch: YOG stars shine in September

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15 Oct 2019
Olympic News, Buenos Aires 2018, YOG 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.

Mariya Lasitskene

Mariya Lasitskene underlined her position as one of the greatest high jumpers in history, as she won her third successive world title at the IAAF World Championships in Doha (Qatar). The 26-year-old, who also won gold at the 2010 YOG, leapt 2.04m on her first attempt to beat 2018 YOG champion Yaroslava Mahuchikh on countback, with the 18-year-old Ukrainian clearing the height on her third attempt to set a new world junior record and clinch the silver medal. Fellow YOG alumna Yuliya Levchenko was fourth.

Lily Zhang

YOG Nanjing 2014 bronze medallist Lily Zhang emerged as the star player at the 2019 Pan-American Table Tennis Championships, which were held in Asuncion (Paraguay) at the start of September, with the American – who made her Olympic debut as a 16-year-old at London 2012 – sweeping to gold in all four of her events. After disposing of top seed Zhang Mo of Canada (11-9, 11-7, 11-4, 14-12) in the women’s singles semi-finals, Zhang secured a convincing victory over Brazilian third seed Bruna Takahashi (11-8, 11-7, 11-3, 11-9), to lift the Pan-American title for the first time. She also played an important role in the United States women’s team’s success, emerging undefeated in the four matches she played, including the final, when the US team edged Brazil in a 3-2 thriller. The 23-year-old also formed a formidable partnership with Wu Yue to land another gold medal in the women’s doubles, and partnered Kai Zhang to the top of the podium in the mixed doubles to cap an incredible tournament.

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Tan Ya-Ting

A nail-biting finish saw Chinese Taipei’s Tan Ya-Ting settle for silver in the women’s recurve at the 2019 Archery World Cup Final. Tan, who had won bronze at the previous three World Cup events, was facing Korean world number one Kang Chae Young in the final, and jumped to an early 3-1 lead before Kang stormed back with a pair of perfect 30s. With the score at 5-3, Kang needed only a tie to clinch the title, but after shooting 28 points in the last set to Tan’s 29, both archers began preparing for the imminent shoot-off. The target judge, however, signalled that Kang was the winner, with one of Tan’s 10s actually adjudged to be a nine. That decision gave Kang the tie she needed to secure a 6-4 victory, with Tan – the YOG Singapore 2010 silver medallist – again finishing as the runner-up.

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Akshay Bhatia

Double YOG silver medallist Akshay Bhatia concluded his impressive amateur golf career by helping the USA clinch the 2019 Walker Cup. The 17-year-old, who claimed individual and mixed team silvers at the YOG Buenos Aires 2018, won two of his three matches as the USA secured a 15.5-10.5 victory in the biennial event, which pitches the leading amateur golfers from the USA against those from Great Britain and Ireland. Bhatia made the decision to turn professional after the Walker Cup, with the left-hander going on to make his professional debut on the PGA Tour.

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Mayu Mukaida

Japan’s Mayu Mukaida won silver in the women’s 53kg event at the 2019 World Wrestling Championships, which were held in Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan), from 14 to 22 September. The 2014 YOG gold medallist – who also won the 2016 and 2018 world titles – was beaten in the final by Pak Yong-mi of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

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Simon Martirosyan, Kuo Hsing-chun and Deng Wei

A host of former YOG athletes were in action at the 2019 IWF World Weightlifting Championships, which were held in Pattaya (Thailand) from 18 to 27 September. Among them were Armenia’s 2014 YOG champion Simon Martirosyan, who successfully defended his world title in the men’s -109kg event; Chinese Taipei’s YOG silver medallist and Olympic bronze medallist Kuo Hsing-chun, who clinched her fourth world title in the women’s -59kg event; and China’s YOG and Olympic champion Deng Wei, who secured her fifth world title in the women’s -64kg event. Martirosyan’s victory included a world record 199kg lift in the snatch, while Kuo set new clean and jerk (140kg) and total (246kg) world records. Deng, meanwhile, broke five world records en route to her gold medal, eventually lifting 116kg in the snatch and 145kg in the clean and jerk, for a record total of 261kg.

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Jiří Prskavec

Czech paddler Jiří Prskavec clinched his second individual world title – and his fourth overall – as he won gold in the men’s K1 event at the 2019 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships, which were held in La Seu d'Urgell (Spain) from 24 to 29 September. The 26-year-old YOG and Olympic bronze medallist – who also won the overall K1 World Cup title in 2019 – produced a faultless run in the final to finish in a time of 84.26 seconds, with Spain’s David Llorente dropping into second place after a two-second penalty.

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Fedrick Dacres

Fedrick Dacres earned Jamaica’s first-ever World Championship medal in the men’s discus, as he clinched silver at the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha. The 25-year-old, who competed at the YOG Singapore 2010, threw 66.94m in the second round to finish behind Sweden’s Daniel Stahl, who topped the podium with 67.59m.

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Ayomide Bello

Nigeria's Ayomide Bello became the first female canoeist from her country to qualify for the Olympic Games, as she won the C1 200m event at Africa's Tokyo 2020 qualifiers in Morocco. The 17-year-old, who competed at the YOG Buenos Aires 2018, also won gold with partner Goodness Foloki in the women's C2 final at the event in Rabat.

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