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O'Neill backs Youth Olympic results

28 August 2014

NANJING 2014: Australia's inability to win a swimming gold medal at the Youth Olympics should not be viewed as a bad omen, says pool great Susie O'Neill.

Swimmers contributed 10 of Australia's 26 medals at the second Youth Games in Nanjng, China, which ended on Thursday.

Nine of those medals were bronze, with Sydneysider Ami Matsuo winning the only silver in the women's 50m freestyle.

Swimming has traditionally been the backbone of Australia's Olympic success at senior level, the sport the country looks to first for gold medals.

O'Neill, Australia's Youth Olympic team leader, said the results in Nanjing did not reflect the depth of talent in Australian swimming.

"Without making any excuses ... it's not like a normal swimming event," she said.

O'Neill said the eight swimmers on the Australian team were selected to compete across all disciplines rather than just their preferred races.

She also said bronze medals now would make the young swimmers even more determined to win next time.

"I imagine not getting any golds would be extra motivation for them," she said.

"Hopefully it makes them go back and train a bit harder.

"I think that's why this event is so important. People can practise when things don't go entirely perfectly for them."

Of Australia's 26 medals, five came in from events where athletes competed in mixed teams made up of many nations.

At the inaugural 2010 Youth Olympics in Singapore, Australia won 32 medals, three of which came from mixed nation events.

Notable success stories this time were triathlete Brittany Dutton who won gold on the opening day, followed by the triumphant women's rugby sevens team, 400 metre runner Jessica Thornton and the men's hockey fives team who won the last gold of the Games.

In a departure from senior Olympics, there is no official medal table at Youth Olympics.

"To be honest, coming in we weren't really focusing on the medal tally," said O'Neill.

"We were focusing on how they conducted themselves and how they behaved, and how they represented the country."

However O'Neill believed several athletes made their mark as future Olympians, particularly the gold medallists.

"Overall the athletics team was really quite impressive," she said.

The next Youth Olympic Games will be held in 2018 in Buenos Aires.

AAP

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