Olympic.org takes a look at how the future has unfolded for nine athletes who shone at the Youth Olympic Games Nanjing 2014
Since taking up weightlifting in 2010, Sara Ahmed has made a habit of collecting medals at major championships. In addition to her 63kg gold medal in Nanjing, she has enjoyed victories at the African Games, Mediterranean Games, World Junior Championships and World Youth Championships. Perhaps her greatest achievement, however, came at last year’s Olympic Games Rio 2016, where she won a bronze medal in the 69kg category to become Egypt's first female medallist in the country’s 104 years of Olympic history.
US boxer Shakur Stevenson caught the eye in Nanjing with a series of imperious performances in the -52 kg division, eventually beating China’s Lu Ping to win the YOG title. He also won gold at the 2014 AIBA Youth World Championships and went on to win the US Olympic Trials to qualify for the Olympic Games Rio 2016. Stevenson, who has been dubbed “the next Mayweather” by boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr himself, shone in victories over Brazil’s Robenílson de Jesus and Mongolia’s Erdenebatyn Tsendbaatar, but was eventually beaten in the gold medal bout by fellow YOG gold medallist Robeisy Ramírez. Since then, he has made an impressive start to his professional career, posting two victories.
With Usain Bolt set to retire after this year’s IAAF World Championships, athletics is looking for a new sprint star, and Zambia’s Sydney Siame is certainly making his case as the heir to the Jamaican’s throne. Siame, who trains at the IOC’s Sport for Hope Centre in Lusaka, won the 100m gold in Nanjing, and earlier this year lowered his personal best to a blistering 9.87 seconds to qualify for August’s World Championships. A potential showdown with Bolt now awaits.
Chinese table tennis star Fan Zhendong won YOG gold in both the men’s singles and mixed team events in Nanjing, and since then has established himself as one of the finest players in the sport. He won singles bronze and doubles silver at the 2015 World Championships, in addition to team gold in both 2014 and 2016; but the fierce competition for selection to the Chinese team meant he missed out on a place at the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
Thailand’s Panipak Wongpattanakit had already been making a name for herself in the taekwondo world ahead of Nanjing 2014, following victories at the 2013 US Open, 2013 Youth Asian Championships and 2014 Asian Championships. The then 17-year-old easily outclassed Azerbaijan’s Ceren Ozbek 21-1 in the 44kg final to claim YOG gold, and just one year later was topping the podium at the 2015 World Championships. She didn’t manage to continue her golden streak at last year’s Olympic Games Rio 2016, however, losing to Kim Sohui of the Republic of Korea in the 49kg quarter-finals; but she recovered from that loss to beat Mexico’s Itzel Manjarrez in the bronze medal match and, at just 19 years old, is sure to enjoy many more opportunities at the Games.
Chinese gymnast Wang Yan had the hopes of the host nation resting on her young shoulders in Nanjing and, while that pressure sometimes weighed a little heavy – leading to falls in the all-around events – she still finished the YOG with gold medals in the vault and balance beam, and a bronze in the uneven bars to cap an incredible Games for the then 14-year-old. Just a year later, she was starring at the Asian and World Championships, and last year qualified for the Chinese Olympic team at Rio 2016, where she performed consistently well to help China win bronze in the team event.
Golf made its YOG debut in Nanjing – more than 100 years after it had last been seen at an Olympic event – and Italy’s Renato Paratore made history by becoming the event’s first-ever gold medallist in the men’s individual event. He added a bronze in the team event, capping a brilliant amateur career that also included two appearances at the Junior Ryder Cup. By the end of 2014, aged just 17 years and 341 days, he had become the third youngest player to qualify for the European Tour; and since then he has firmly established himself on the professional circuit. He enjoyed three top-10 finishes in 2016, including at the prestigious Links Championship and the European Masters, and in early June this year claimed his maiden victory at the Scandinavian Masters to become the youngest winner on the European Tour since 2013.
After captaining Canada’s rugby sevens team to a silver medal in Nanjing, Hannah Darling went on to be part of the Canadian team that won the first-ever women’s rugby gold medal at the Pan-American Games in Toronto in 2015. She was then named in Canada’s squad for the Olympic Games Rio 2016, where she teamed up with fellow YOG medallist Charity Williams to help her country secure a bronze medal.
After winning three relay bronze medals in Nanjing, Australian swimmer Kyle Chalmers went on to star at the 2015 World Junior Championships – winning seven medals, three of them gold. That same year, he was part of the Australian 4x100m medley team that won silver at the 2015 World Championships, and just one year later he was breaking the junior world record in the 100m freestyle to qualify for the Olympic Games Rio 2016. In Brazil, Chalmers exceeded all expectations by again breaking the junior world record as he won gold in a time of 47.58 seconds – becoming the first Australian to win the Olympic 100m freestyle title since 1968. Bronze medals followed in both the 4x100m freestyle and 4x100m medley relays to cap an incredible Olympic debut.
His latest news are not sports related: the young man just had a successful heart surgery - the hope is the fans will soon see him again in a swimming pool!