When the hammer comes down
Ukraine’s delegation stood out on the fifth day of the athletics competition at the third summer edition of the Youth Olympic Games, taking gold medals in men’s and women’s hammer throw.
Ukraine’s Mykhaylo Kokhan, the favourite to win the gold medal in the men’s hammer throw, met the high expectations placed on him and nailed a 85.97-metre throw in the first stage and a 85.14-metre throw in the second. The effort earned him the gold medal, while Belarus’ Valentin Andreev got the silver and China’s Wang Qi the bronze. Although the Ukrainian’s throw was two metres short of his personal record, it was still good enough for him to take the top spot at Buenos Aires 2018.
"It was a very good competition to put an end to a long season," Kokhan said. Ukraine is a growing power in the discipline. Four years ago, at Nanjing 2014, the country had also won the gold in men’s hammer throw thanks to Hlib Piskunov, who was just 15 years old at the time. Kokhan talked about his friendship with Piskunov: "Before I came here, he motivated me to show the world what we, the Ukrainian throwers, are made of."
Ukraine’s Mykhaylo Kokhan proudly shows his gold medal. (Photo: OIS)
Kokhan, who won the European championship held in Hungary in July, had only three months to prepare for Buenos Aires 2018. But the idea of skipping the competition never crossed his mind. "I have wanted to compete in an edition of the Olympic Games since I was a child. I can rest now,” he said. His father and coach, Serhii Kokhan, knows that his son’s career is just beginning. "He is a very young athlete. We don’t want to pressure him, but if he has the results to make it to Tokyo 2020, we will train him for that," he said.
This is not the only family tie in the Ukrainian delegation. Valeriya Ivanenko, who won the gold in the women's hammer throw competition, is also coached by her father. "I'm very happy to work with my dad. It is a great incentive. Thanks to him, I can make progress faster," she said, after making a 72.08-metre throw in the second stage of the event.
Ukrainian Valeriya Ivanenko made it to the top of the women’s hammer throw podium. (Photo: OIS)
"I felt a lot of pressure, but I gave my best,” said Ivanenko, who even before the start of the competition was considered the top favourite for gold.
Egypt’s Rawan Ayman Ibrahim Barakat broke her personal record and took the silver medal in the women's hammer throw, while Cuba’s Alegna Osorio Mayari won the bronze.
At the close of the day, China’s Li Xinhui became the Youth Olympic champion in the women’s shot put competition. The silver went to Belarus’ Yelizaveta Dorts and the silver to South Africa’s Dane Roets.
China’s Li Xinhui's mighty arm earned her the victory in the women’s shot put event. (Photo: OIS)