Three NSW athletes claimed medals on a spectacular day of competition in Singapore. Competing at the Youth Olympic Games, the NSW trio of Nicholas Hough, Michelle Jenneke and Brandon Starc all recorded personal bests, moved to No 3 ranking in the World and became medallists at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games.
Competing in the evening session, Nicholas Hough (Hills), 16, led the way with gold in the 110m hurdles in a very close race where he needed to fight hard over the last four hurdles to claim the victory in 13.37s. The time lowered his NSW record, but was just outside the Australian record of 13.28. Hough beat China’s Wang Dongfang who ran a personal best of 13.41. World No 2 Cuban Yordan Luis O’Farril Olivera, could not match his best of 13.25s in the heat of the battle, placing fifth in 13.69s, behind the first four athletes who achieved liftime bests when it counted.
Brandon Starc (Parramatta),16, lept out of his skin and above all expectations to take silver in the high jump. Starting the competiton at 1.95m, he kept a clean sheet of first up clearances at 2.00m, 2.04m, 2.08m, 2.11m and 2.14m. With personal best clearances at 2.11m and 2.14m, Starc sat in equal first place with 2.22m Israeli athlete Dmitry Kroytor while five other athletes were still alive in the competition. But 2.17m really sorted out the field. Kroyter cleared it on his first attempt, while Ukraine’s Viktor Chernysh negoitated the height on his second attempt. Starc missed his first two attempts and was facing elimination. But his ride continued as he cleared the height on his third attempt and assured himself of a medal.
Competition leader Kroytor stumbled at 2.19m missing his first two attempts, as did Starc and Chernysh. Kroytor, who was first to jump, cleared the bar on his third attempt placing the pressure on Starc. But he delivered, with his fourth personal best leap of the competition. Last in the jumping order, Chernysh, who started the competition with a persponal best of 2.10m, missed and was out.
The bar was raised to 2.21m but Starc and Kroytor both missed with their three attempts.
Kroytor claimed vistory on a countback, courtesy of his first up clearance at 2.17m, with Starc taking the silver medal.
Starc’s leap of 2.19m, was just short of the NSW record of 2.21m, held by James Watson, when he won silver at the 2001 World Youth Championships.
Competing earlier that morning, hurdler, Michelle Jenneke (Cherrybrook), 17, smashed her personal best time clocking 13.46s to claim the silver medal behind world leader, Russian Ekaterina Bleskina. Jenneke started the final ranked fourth on her heat run of 13.65s, but she rose to the occasion to beat World No 2, Swiss Noemi Zbaren. Jenneke’s time also broke the NSW record of 13.56s held by Tara Holt (Sydney Uni).
Three individual medals for NSW on one day at Olympic or World Championship junior meet is very rare. Three medals by NSW over an entire championships is rare. But in 1996 when we hosted the IAAF World Juniors at Homebush, Australia and NSW performanced above expectations. The Australian team claimed 10 medals. On the final day, NSW athletes won one individual and four relay medals.
Competition day 5 - Sunday 22 August
Competing in the men’s B javelin final Elliott Lang, who had thrown a personal best in the qualifying round, placed fifth with a good throw of 65.91m. In the B long jump final Kurt Jenner leapt 7.08m to place second.
David Tarbotton and Ron Bendall for Athletics NSW
NSW members of the Youth Olympic Games team (image courtesy of David Tarbotton)