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Yuka Sato creates Olympic history in Singapore

15 Aug 2010

Japanese triathlete Yuka Sato has etched her name into Olympic history by becoming the first ever Youth Olympic Games gold medallist.

The 18-year-old claimed an impressive victory in the girls' triathlon on Sunday morning, winning in a time of 1hr 00min 49.69secs to claim the first gold medal at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games, which are being held in Singapore.

“I feel very, very happy to be the first gold medallist of the Youth Olympic Games,” said Sato. “When I was on the podium it felt like I was dreaming. Being on the top of the podium made me very proud to be Japanese.”

Finding herself in third place after the 750m open-water swim, Sato dropped outside the top five during the 20km cycling stage but recovered strongly in the 5km run to cross the finish line 14 seconds ahead of silver medallist Ellie Salthouse of Australia. America's Kelly Whitely took bronze in a time of 1:01:13:49.

“I put all my strength into the running section," explained Sato after the race. "It’s a first ever Games, first ever medal, and it makes me and Japan very proud.”

Sato, who took up triathlon aged nine and credits her mother as the biggest influence on her career, also revealed how a trip to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games motivated her to try and achieve her goal of becoming an Olympic medallist.

“When I watched the triathlon at Beijing 2008 I was inspired to one day compete on the Olympic stage,” she said. “The YOG and the Olympic Games are very different events, but I feel like I've overcome the first hurdle.

“To achieve this gold medal is the halfway stage. I know that there will be hardships in my career, but when I face them I will be able to remember this feeling. It will give me confidence for the future.”

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