Former YOG stars reach new heights
The Youth Olympic Games (YOG) continue to provide an excellent springboard for future sporting success, with more and more YOG graduates now excelling on the global stage. Here, we take a look at some of those who have impressed in recent weeks…
Deng Wei, Kuo Hsing-chun and Chayuttra Pramongkhol
Chinese weightlifter Deng Wei has proved to be almost unbeatable since winning gold at the YOG Singapore 2010, with the 25-year-old claiming her fourth world title at November’s World Weightlifting Championships in Ashgabat (Turkmenistan). The 2016 Olympic champion clinched the -64kg gold with lifts totalling 252kg –13kg more than her nearest challengers, Rim Un-sim (PRK) and Rattanawan Wamalun (THA).
Chinese Taipei’s Kuo Hsing-chun – a silver medallist at the YOG Singapore 2010 – also struck gold in Ashgabat, as she topped the podium in the -59kg category. It was a third world title for the 25-year-old, who won bronze at the Olympic Games Rio 2016; and she even had a fellow YOG graduate to share the moment with, as Nanjing 2014 bronze medallist Rebeka Koha, of Latvia, finished third.
Other former YOG stars to shine in Ashgabat included Thailand’s Chayuttra Pramongkhol – a Singapore 2010 silver medallist – who won -49kg gold, and her compatriot Duangaksorn Chaidee, the Nanjing 2014 gold medallist, who won +87kg bronze.
There was also a silver medal in the -71kg division for Egypt’s Sara Ahmed – the YOG Nanjing 2014 gold medallist who won bronze at Rio 2016.
Simon Martirosyan and Artem Okulov
Armenian weightlifter Simon Martirosyan – who won gold at the YOG Nanjing 2014 – clinched his first global senior title at November’s World Weightlifting Championships. The 21-year-old, who also won a silver medal at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, topped the standings in the -109kg category after a snatch of 195kg, and a huge clean and jerk of 240kg, beating China’s Yang Zhe into second place. Martirosyan’s compatriot Gor Minasyan – a silver medallist at the YOG Singapore 2010 – also made the podium in Ashgabat, securing silver in the 109kg+ division, while Russia’s Singapore 2010 gold medallist Artem Okulov won his second world title, as he clinched gold in the -89kg category.
Marijn Veen, Maxime Kerstholt and Ginella Zerbo
YOG silver medallists Marijn Veen, Maxime Kerstholt and Ginella Zerbo were all part of the Netherlands squad that won the 2018 Women's Hockey Champions Trophy in Changzhou (China) in November.
The trio – who all scored when losing to China in the gold medal match of Nanjing 2014 – made an impressive impact at the Champions Trophy, with Veen finishing as top scorer, and Kerstholt striking in the final as the Netherlands beat Australia 5-1. Veen was also named Young Player of the Tournament.
Other YOG graduates to feature at the Champions Trophy included Argentina’s Nanjing 2014 bronze medallist Julieta Jankunas, and Singapore 2010 silver medallist Florencia Habif, who finished third after beating China in the third-place playoff.
Italian golfer Renato Paratore – the men’s individual gold medallist at the YOG Nanjing 2014 – continues to progress on the senior international circuit, recently teaming up with compatriot Andrea Pavan to finish joint sixth at the prestigious World Cup of Golf in Australia. The historic tournament, which has previously been won by golf legends such as Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, was held at the Metropolitan Golf Club in Melbourne in November, and featured a field including Ryder Cup stars Ian Poulter and Tyrell Hatton, Olympic bronze medallist Matt Kuchar, and two-time Major champion Martin Kaymer. Paratore and Pavan finished 16-under-par, trailing Belgian winners Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry by seven strokes.
US table tennis star Lily Zhang enjoyed a successful campaign at the 2018 Pan-American Table Tennis Championships in November, leaving the tournament in Santiago (Chile) with two medals. The Nanjing 2014 bronze medallist partnered Wu Yue to silver in the women’s doubles, where they were beaten by Canadian duo Alicia Cote and Zhang Mo in the final, and she also won silver alongside her US compatriots in the women’s team event.