From Wei Deng’s weightlifting world record at Rio 2016 to Emma McKeon’s world-best relay time in the pool, we relive some record-breaking performances from Youth Olympic Games (YOG) athletes at the Olympic Games.
Kim Jang-mi blazes a trail
The Olympic Games London 2012 provided the first opportunity for graduates of the YOG to test themselves on the grandest stage of all, and Korean shooter Kim Jang-mi – who won gold in the 10m air pistol at the inaugural Singapore 2010 YOG – set an example for all to follow. The teenager had issued a warning to her rivals when winning the test event at the Royal Artillery Barracks a few months earlier, and announced herself in the best possible way at London 2012 by setting a new Olympic record of 591 points in qualifying for the 25m air pistol final. She went on to beat China’s Ying Chen in a thrilling battle for gold, serving notice of the YOG’s potential as a breeding ground for future Olympic champions.
McKeon sparkles in the pool
Four years later at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, many more athletes who had gained vital experience at the YOG – not just in Singapore, but also at the second edition in Nanjing, in 2014 – were lining up to compete in the world’s greatest sporting event. One such athlete was Australian swimming sensation Emma McKeon, who had won six medals at Singapore 2010 and showed the benefit of that experience when scooping four more on her full Olympic debut in Rio. Most memorably, she anchored the women’s 4x100m freestyle team that set a new world record of 3:30.65 to win gold on a stunning opening night in the Olympic Aquatics Stadium.
Lift-off for Wei Deng
The record-breaking performances of YOG athletes were not confined to the pool in Rio, with Chinese weightlifter Wei Deng, who made her name with a gold medal at the YOG Singapore 2010, setting a new world record of 262kg to triumph in the women’s 63kg event. Having equalled the Olympic snatch record of 115kg, it was a monstrous lift of 147kg in the clean-and-jerk that gave Deng the highest combined score ever recorded in her weight category.
One of the truly unforgettable performances of Rio 2016 came from 22-year-old Thiago Braz da Silva, who posted an Olympic record of 6.03m to win gold in the pole vault. Six years on from claiming a silver medal at the YOG Singapore 2010, the unheralded Brazilian thrilled the home fans at Rio’s Olympic Stadium by engaging in a sensational duel with defending Olympic champion and world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie, rising to the occasion to improve his personal best by a staggering 10cm.
Watch out, world
With McKeon, Da Silva and Deng going faster, higher and stronger than any athlete had gone before them at Rio 2016, expect more record-breaking performances from YOG graduates at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 and the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020!