We take a look at how the future has unfolded for six athletes who shone at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in 2010.
The Cuban boxer’s YOG gold medal in 2010 has helped set him on course for a glittering career in the ring. The southpaw beat India’s Shiva Thapa in the 54kg final in Singapore, and just two years later he found himself on top of an Olympic podium again – this time at the Olympic Games London 2012, where he defeated Mongolia’s Tugstsogt Nyambayar 17-14 in the 52kg final to be crowned Olympic champion. Ramirez then made it a hat-trick of Olympic titles at last year’s Games in Rio, where he again overcame Thapa en route to the 56kg final. In the gold medal bout, he then beat fellow YOG alumni Shakur Stevenson – who won 52kg gold in Nanjing in 2014 – to claim his second successive Olympic title. Still only 23 years old, Ramirez has already set his sights on another gold medal in Tokyo in 2020.
The Australian won gold in the K1 slalom event in Singapore, which firmly set her on the path for glory at the senior level. Just weeks after her YOG triumph, the-then 16-year-old won C1 bronze at the Canoe Slalom World Championships and the following year enjoyed two victories in the Canoe Slalom World Cup. She then challenged for K1 gold at the Olympic Games London 2012, eventually winning silver behind France’s Émilie Fer, before going on to claim two overall World Cup titles and six World Championship gold medals from 2013 to 2015. She arrived at last year’s Olympic Games Rio 2016 as one of the clear favourites for gold, but despite a superb final run she ended up in third place following a late two-second penalty.
Chad le Clos
The South African swimmer made waves in and out of the pool at the Olympic Games London 2012, as he edged out two-time defending champion Michael Phelps to claim gold in the 200m butterfly. Le Clos also won silver in the 100m butterfly to cap an incredible Olympic debut for the-then 20-year-old, who just two years earlier had been one of the stars of the 2010 YOG. In Singapore, the South African won five medals in the pool – including gold in the 200m medley – to establish himself as a potential star for the future. And so it has proved, with his success in London being followed by a succession of world titles, as well as two further Olympic silver medals at last year’s Olympic Games Rio 2016, where Phelps managed to regain the upper hand in the 200m butterfly.
Since winning taekwondo gold in Singapore, Jade Jones has risen quickly through the ranks to become one of the stars of the sport. The Brit followed her YOG title with an Olympic gold medal just two years later, as she triumphed on home soil at London 2012, and then successfully defended her 57kg crown last year in Rio to become a double Olympic champion before the age of 24. Jones has also claimed European and Commonwealth golds since starring in Singapore, and will now target her first world title at next month’s World Taekwondo Championships in Muju, Republic of Korea.
Last year, Alex Massialas became the first US athlete to win medals at both the YOG and the Olympic Games, as he secured silver in the men’s foil and bronze in the team foil in Rio. Six years earlier, he was among the trailblazing athletes competing at the inaugural YOG in Singapore, where he also won individual silver, as well as a bronze medal in the first-ever mixed team event. Massialas – whose father, Greg, also competed at the Olympic Games and whose sister, Sabrina, won YOG gold in 2014 – is now ranked number one in the world for the men’s foil and will no doubt be desperate to finally climb on to the top step of an Olympic podium in Tokyo in 2020.
Since winning two gold medals at the 2010 YOG, Koki Niwa has become the poster boy for Japanese table tennis. As a 15-year-old, he swept away the competition to win both the men’s singles and the mixed team event in Singapore, and then went on to win the world junior title the following year. He made headlines in April 2012 when he beat Chinese superstar Ma Long, and then performed admirably as part of the Japanese team at the Olympic Games London 2012. He returned to the Olympic arena last year in Rio, reaching the quarter-finals of the men’s singles competition, before teaming up with Maharu Yoshimura and Jun Mizutani to win a historic silver for Japan in the men’s team event.