YOG ATHLETES MAKE THEIR MARK ON DAY TWO
NO FEWER THAN SIX YOUTH OLYMPIC GAMES (YOG) GRADUATES MADE THE STEP UP TO THE GRANDEST SPORT STAGE OF ALL BY DELIVERING MEDAL-WINNING PERFORMANCES ON THE SECOND DAY OF THE OLYMPIC GAMES RIO 2016.
Greek shooter Anna Korakaki, who competed at the 2014 YOG in Nanjing but failed to win a medal, showed the benefit of that experience as well as her rapid rate of improvement by claiming bronze in the women’s 10m air pistol.
“It feels amazing,” said Korakaki, who won Greece’s first medal of the Games. “I am shaking now. It’s a dream come true. It’s my first Olympic Games and I am 20 years old.”
After Korakaki had got the ball rolling in the morning, the success of YOG athletes continued in the afternoon, as Italian judokas Fabio Basile and Odette Giuffrida – both of whom competed at the 2010 YOG in Singapore – won medals. Following Giuffrida’s silver medal-winning effort in the women’s 52kg event, Basile went one better in the men’s 66kg competition, throwing top seed Baul An (KOR) for an ippon in the gold medal bout to become the first YOG athlete to win gold medal in an individual event in Rio. Basile, ranked only 29th in his weight class before the Games, celebrated his shock victory with a backflip. “It’s a thing I’ve done since I was a child,” he said of his acrobatics.
Later, two athletes who won silver medals at the inaugural YOG in Singapore followed up by reaching the podium in Rio. In archery, Ya-Ting Tan helped Chinese Tapei secure bronze in the women’s team event, before Alex Massialas fell agonisingly short of becoming the first American male fencer to win a gold medal in foil, epee or sabre.
Having progressed through every round of the individual foil, in a run that included a sensational comeback against Italy’s Giorgio Avola in the quarter-finals, Massialas finally succumbed in the gold medal bout, losing 15-11 to Enrico Garozzo, also of Italy. © GETTY IMAGES
Massialas, though, was delighted with his performance. “I can rest easy tonight knowing that I left it all out on the strip,” said the 22-year-old, who will have a chance to add to his medal tally in the men’s team foil event. “I couldn’t be a prouder son, a prouder brother, prouder friend.”
Finally, 18-year-old swimmer Kyle Chalmers, who won bronze in the 4x100m freestyle relay in Nanjing, rounded off a memorable day for YOG athletes by helping Australia to a bronze medal in the same event. Chalmers swam an excellent second leg to keep his team – made up of James Roberts, James Magnussen and Cameron McEvoy – in contention, before they ultimately finished third behind Michael Phelps’s imperious USA team.