More YOG graduates make their mark
We pick out more starring performances from former Youth Olympic Games athletes on sport’s biggest stages.
American sprinter Noah Lyles has started the outdoor athletics season in blistering fashion, breaking his personal best over 200m twice as he claimed victories in the opening IAAF Diamond League events in Doha (Qatar) and Eugene (USA). The 20-year-old, who won the 200m gold medal at the YOG Nanjing 2014, ran a meeting record of 19.83 seconds in Doha before lowering his personal best again when winning in Eugene as he clocked 19.69 – the joint-fastest time in the world this year. Lyles, who was also crowned World Junior Champion over 100m in 2016, had previously run under 20 seconds only once before, when he ran 19.90 to win at last year’s Shanghai Diamond League meeting.
Swedish golfer Marcus Kinhult enjoyed one of the best results of his fledgling professional career at the end of May, as he finished in a tie for 12th at the European Tour’s flagship tournament, the PGA Championship. The 21-year-old, who won individual silver and mixed team gold at the YOG Nanjing 2014, shot rounds of 74-67-68-70 on the renowned West Course of the Wentworth Club in Great Britain, to finish eight strokes behind winner Francesco Molinari of Italy in the prestigious event. Kinhult, who qualified for this season’s European Tour after finishing fifth in the second-tier Challenge Tour standings in 2017, also placed third at February’s Qatar Masters, and has now climbed to 173rd in the world rankings.
Yang Ha-eun was part of the historic unified Korean women’s team that won bronze at May’s ITTF World Team Table Tennis Championships in Sweden. The 24-year-old, who claimed singles bronze and mixed team silver at the YOG Singapore 2010, won two of her four matches in the group stages as part of the Republic of Korea team that qualified for the quarter-finals, where they were drawn to play the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Rather than compete against one another, both teams made the historic decision to form a unified Korean team to play together in the semi-final. Although they were eventually beaten 3-0 by Japan in the last four, the decision to form a unified team marked another symbolic act of unity between the two countries, following the joint march between their delegations at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 and the participation of a unified women’s team in the Olympic ice hockey tournament.
British taekwondo star Jade Jones added to her glittering medal collection in May as she clinched gold at the 2018 European Taekwondo Championships in Kazan (Russia). The 2012 and 2016 Olympic champion, who won YOG gold in Singapore in 2010, beat Turkey’s world silver medallist Hatice Kübra İlgün in the 57kg final to successfully defend the European title she won in Montreux (Switzerland) two years ago. Jones will now set her sights on winning a maiden world title on home soil in Manchester next year.
Finnish freestyle wrestler Petra Olli won gold in the women’s 65kg event at the recent UWW European Wrestling Championships in Kaspiysk (Russia). The YOG Singapore 2010 bronze medallist defeated Azerbaijan’s Elis Manolova in the final to clinch her second European title, following gold in the 60kg event in 2015. Russia’s Svetlana Lipatova, another bronze medallist at the YOG Singapore 2010, also won bronze in the women’s 59kg event in Kaspiysk.
YOG badminton gold medallist Shi Yuqi was part of the Chinese team that triumphed at the BWF Thomas & Uber Cup competitions in Bangkok (Thailand) in May. The 22-year-old, who was the singles champion at Nanjing 2014, won all six of his matches during the Thomas Cup tournament, as China beat Australia, France, India, Chinese Taipei and Indonesia en route to the final, where they defeated Japan 3-1. Shi’s fellow YOG graduate Akane Yamaguchi – the women’s singles silver medallist at Nanjing 2014 – also starred at the event in Bangkok, as Japan won the Uber Cup by beating hosts Thailand 3-0 in the final.