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2007 AYOF sport by sport wrap

15 February 2007

Almost 1600 athletes competed over the five days of competition at the 2007 Australian Youth Olympic Festival, across the 16 Olympic sports.

Figure skating and short track speed skating became the first Winter sports ever contested while football and sailing also debuted.

From the 190 AYOF events China’s team defeated Australian competitors on the gold medal tally by the narrowest of margins, 66 to 64. Japan won 17 gold medals, Great Britain 14 and Chinese Taipei 10. In all 10 of the 20 competing nations won gold.

AYOF records are kept for athletics, cycling and swimming with 18 broken on the track, nine in the pool and five at the velodrome.

Below is a snap shot from every sport at the Festival.

Athletics – Aussies athletes dominate

In the stifling heat 18 AYOF athletic records were broken at the Sydney Athletic Centre over the two days of competition. Athletes from the four Australian teams won 27 of the 40 gold medals on offer with China winning 10 and Chinese Taipei three.

Australians Olivia Tauro (100m, 200m), Sally Fitzgibbons (800m, 1500m), Ryan Gregson (1500m, 3000m) and Jacinta Doyle (100m hurdles, long jump) all won two gold.

In the field Australian Vicki Parnov was only 10cm shy of winning the men’s event in setting a new AYOF women’s record with a 4.25m clearance in the pole vault. Chinese sensation, 17-year-old Dan Song showed her class with a massive 55.54m throw in the javelin. Australian high jumper Joshua Heap, 16, also set a new record and confirmed he is one to watch in the future with a 2.17m clearance.

Badminton – Malyasia stop a Chinese clean sweep

China claimed all but two of the seven badminton gold medals in the Sports Halls A at Sydney Olympic Park. Only Malaysia’s men’s doubles team, Abdul Latif Mohamad Arif and Indra Mawan Saniru Vountus could stop the clean sweep in the elite events*.

China won the silver in the men’s doubles and Malaysia won all other silvers. Great Britain won four bronze, Singapore two and the New Zealand team with development gold.

Australia’s best performers were Boris Ma and Erica Pong who made the quarter-finals of the men’s and women’s singles events. Australia also made the quarter-final stage in all three doubles events before being eliminated.

* Group B medals were awarded for the development teams with NZL, AUS and Oceania medaling.

Canoe/Kayak – Hungary like it flat, China like it rough

Hungary were the dominant force in the canoe/kayak flatwater competition winning six gold and 11 medals in total after the three days of racing at the Sydney International Regatta Centre. Australia won a total of eight medals including two gold with Dane Wilkinson and Nicole Rutland winning their K1000m events.

Slalom began on Day 4 of the AYOF at the Whitewater Centre at Penrith with temperatures reaching up to 40 degrees. The Chinese paddlers upset the teams from the United States of America, Japan and Australia. China won two of the four gold with the United States and Australia winning one each. Philip Gibbins was the star for the host nation winning the men’s K1. Emmie Barrat won bronze in the women’s K1.

Cycling - WA riders show their class

There was outstanding performances and tight racing over the three days of competition at Dunc Gray Velodrome in Sydney’s Bass Hill with five AYOF records broken.

Western Australian riders won five gold medals more than any other Australian state or international team. Josephine Tomic was the star winning the first gold of the Festival to defend her 2005 title in the 2000m pursuit in record time. Then on day 2 she won the 7.5km scratch race and on the final day she won the 20km points race.

Her team-mate Josephine Butler broke Olympic Champion Anna Meares’ record with a sizzling 36.380 secs in the 500m time trial. Jason Halloway capped off a great event for the West when he won the men’s kierin the final track event.

New Zealand riders picked up the most medals with their seven, comprising three gold, one silver and one bronze. Eddie Dawkins broke the AYOF record in the 1km time trial.

In extremely hot conditions on the last day of the Festival Australian riders won the men’s and women’s criterium road events. ACT rider Chloe Hosking was too strong in the sprint to the line and Thomas Robinson held of his team-mate Ben Grenda for a Tasmanian 1-2.

Diving – Chinese divers dominate

The Chinese team was expected to dominate the diving competition at the Sydney Aquatic Centre with Australia and Great Britain having high hopes for 14-year-old Melissa Wu and 12-year-old Thomas Daley respectively. However nobody could stop China from having a clean sweep of all eight gold.

Chinese diver Qin Tian stood above the rest of the competition taking home three individual gold medals beating his compatriots Ying Hong and Li Teng in the men’s platform with a flurry of perfect 10 scores.

The diminutive Wu wasn’t quit at her best but did enough for bronze on the first day of competition in the women’s 10m platform. Daley managed a silver in the men’s 3m synchro.

Football – Korea win double gold

Korea dominated both the boy’s and girl’s competitions in football’s debut at the AYOF. At Valentine Sports Park in oppressive heat they won all six round-robin matches to claim both gold medals.

Australia accounted for the Asian challenge from Japan, China and Korea extremely well winning silver and bronze in the girl’s and boy’s competitions respectively. Japan won the other minor medals.

Figure Skating – Japan and China strongest on ice

Japan were the dominant country claiming four of the six medals on offer as figure skating made its AYOF debut. The Sydney Ice Arena was at capacity for ever session with spectators loving the standard of competition.

Japan’s Yuka Ishikawa led after the women’s short program and secured the gold with her outstanding free performance. Her team-mate Nanoha Sato moved into silver after the free program with 15-year-old Australian Tina Wang thrilling her supporters to claim bronze.

China’s Junlin Guan, 17, won the men’s competition with 15-year-old Akio Sasaki and his Japanese team-mate Yukihiro Yoshida claiming the minor medals. Nicholas Fernandez was the best placed Australian male in seventh.

Gymnastics - Rhythmic breakthrough for Australia

Rhythmic - Australia’s only gymnastics gold was achieved with a sensational performance by Chloe Hayes, Keziah Oliver, Danielle Prince and Zena Foale-Banks in the rhythmic team event. Hayes also achieved an individual bronze on the final day in the rhythmic all-around competition. China also performed strongly, winning the all-around gold and silver, plus silver in the team event.

Artistic - China’s artistic women cleaned up every gold medal. They won the team competition, Tian Jung led the trifecta in the all-around and they also won all four apparatus finals. Emma Dennis and Mary-Anne Monckton were the most impressive gymnasts from Australia, taking out the silver on vault and floor respectively.

In the men’s artistic team Japan was too strong for China and Great Britain. Kazuaki Koizumi won the three gold at the Festival also winning the individual all-around and the high bar.

England’s 2006 Commonwealth Pommel Horse Champion Louis Smith showed his class taking out his pet event, silver in the all-around and bronze on the high bar. Matthew Curtis won the Australian men’s only artistic medal with bronze on the parallel bars.

Trampoline - The trampoline event was dominated by Japan who won three of the four available gold medals. Australia took five of the minor medals – two silver and three bronze.

Hockey – Australia and Great Britain share glory

The scorching heat did nothing to detract from the action at the Sydney Hockey Centre with the clashes between Great Britain and Australia enthralling the packed crowd.

The Australian men moved through in the round robin games undefeated. In the final Great Britain found something extra and pushed the game to a penalty shoot-out - Australia eventually winning 7-6. China defeated Malaysia for the bronze in another penalty shoot-out 5-4.

The Australian women were also undefeated throughout the round-robin phase with strong wins against New Zealand, China and Great Britain. In the final the British came out fighting and never looked back eventually taking the gold with a surprise 4-2 victory. New Zealand won the bronze over China.

Rowing – British row away with half the gold

Sydney’s hot summer weather proved a nuisance for rowing with the heat forcing a change of schedule which meant even earlier starts.

Great Britain were the stand-out team winning six gold, five silver and one bronze from the 12 events. The other international teams also medaled with New Zealand winning six medals (one gold, one silver, four bronze) and China four (one gold, one silver, two bronze).

The Australian state based crews also performed well with Tasmania picking up two gold and a silver, New South Wales one gold and four silver, and Western Australia one gold. In the final events Great Britain won the women’s eight and New South Wales powered away to win the men’s by over three seconds.

Sailing - British sailors shine on Sydney Harbour

A glistening Sydney Harbour played host to the first ever sailing event at the AYOF, where Canada, Great Britain, USA and New Zealand sailed against six Australian state teams in the mixed pacer class.

Three days of competition involving 85 races came down to a close challenge for gold on the final day. The crowd turned out in droves at Farm Cove to witness the three Great Britain boats clinch the gold medal over Western Australia after winning the majority in the five race final. Australian sailors missed out on the bronze, with New South Wales losing out to New Zealand.

Shooting – Kirley and Skinner trap gold

Competition at the Sydney International Shooting Centre saw a tough battle in the heat between Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand. Great Britain dominated the skeet shooting, winning back-to-back gold in both the men’s and women’s finals.

The AYOF also brought out the best in Australia’s shooters as Nicholas Kirley (double trap) and Catherine Skinner (trap) won gold. Australia finished the medal tally with two gold, one silver and two bronze from the five events, followed by Great Britain (two gold, two silver) and New Zealand (one silver, one bronze).

Short Track Speed Skating – China too slick, Southee the next Bradbury

Also appearing for the first time at the AYOF was short track speed skating, with five different events held for both men and women at the Sydney Ice Arena.

Australia and China went head-to-head with Australia in the relays with Australia winning the men’s 5000m relay and China the women’s. China clearly took control of the women’s individual races – claiming all gold, silver and bronze medals.

Sydney skater Ben Southee, 19, won the 1000m to claim Australia’s first international gold medal in short track since Steven Bradbury’s victorious win at the Salt Lake Winter Games in 2002. Overall the Australian team won two gold, three silver and three bronze while China cleaned up with 23 medals.

Swimming - Campbell puts world on notice

At the Sydney Aquatic Centre China threw down the challenge to Australia and in the process nine AYOF swimming records were broken over the four days of competition. Going into the final session Australia and China were locked with eight gold a piece.

However, the Junior Dolphins rallied to finish with 13 gold and 39 medals to China’s 11 gold and 27 total. Japan also confirmed throughout the meet their emergence in the world stage picking up seven gold, five silver and four bronze.

Ellese Zalewski, Samantha Hamill and Belinda Hocking had been the shining stars of the Australian team over the first three days winning a swag of gold, silver and bronze between them.

Hamill led the charge on the first night, winning the gold medal and breaking World Record Holder Jessica Schipper’s 2003 AYOF record in the 200m butterfly.

On the final night 14-year-old Queenslander Cate Campbell shocked even herself in the 50m freestyle when she stopped the clock in the final at a sizzling 24.89 – the sixth fastest time recorded anywhere in the world in the last 12 months.

Table Tennis - Tense close action

Table tennis drew big crowds and exciting competition, with crowd-pleasers China entering the competition as favourites. They dominated the female single preliminary matches, leading to an all-Chinese final between Meng Chen and Chen Xi Shi - the gold eventually going to Xi. The two had to put their differences aside when they later played together in the double’s final, winning a second gold over Chinese Taipei.

In the men’s singles Great Britain’s Paul Drinkhall missed out on gold after a long battle with Chinese Taipei’s Hung Chieh Chiang. Drinkhall also met the Chinese in the doubles final and was successful in winning here.

Despite being the underdogs, Australia, New Caledonia and New Zealand kept the opposition on their toes. Australia managed to make it to the semi-finals in both the singles and doubles competitions but missed out on any medals.

Taekwondo - Aussie taekwondo players perform well

Australian taekwondo players won 12 of the 30 medals on offer at the AYOF with Christopher Beach and Gabriel Andres winning gold. However, it was China and Chinese Taipei which won the most gold with four and three respectively. There were big crowds for the two days of competition at the Sports Halls in Sydney Olympic Park.

Andrew Reid
AYOF

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