David Tarbotton for Athletics Illustrated
After China’s dominance on day two, it was Japan’s turn, courtesy of two fine sprint hurdlers, to steel the limelight on day three of the Asian Youth Games, currently being held in Nanjing. Along with Japan, five other countries, China, Syria, Korea, Vietnam and Thailand shared the gold medals.
Tonight, Japan’s Takumu Furuya stamped himself as one of the finest all round junior hurdlers in the world. At the recent IAAF world youth championships, he placed an outstanding fourth in the 400m hurdles, in a 16-years world leading time of 51.00 seconds. But at the Asian Youth championships, he switched his attention to the 110m hurdles. Arriving at the meet he owned a personal best of 13.92, which he smashed in the heat, running 13.64, before destroying his best again with 13.36 in the final – the second fastest time in the world for his age.
“From the preliminary to the final, everything was smooth, although I got an injury some days before I came here. But finally I made it, I got the gold medal, I am so happy,” he said.
Second in the hurdles was Sri Lanka’s Akila Ravisanka, a year 11 high school student from a village outside of Columbo. Coached by Indika Jayasinghe, Ravisanka clocked a big personal best time of 13.99.
In the women’s 100m hurdles, Nana Fujimori (JPN) lived up to expectations coasting to the line nearly a flight ahead of her closest rival, Vietnam’s Thi Lan Nguyen. There was unsteadiness at on the line at the first attempt to start the race, but no one awarded a break.
“The first false start had no effect on me,” commented Fujimori, whose winning time of 13.69, into a slight headwind, was faster than she recorded at the recent IAAF world youth championships, where she progressed to the semi-finals. But the time was still outside her personal best of 13.66 recorded in 2012. Nguyen, clocked 14.43 for the silver medal, just ahead of Indonesia’s Ken Ayuthaya Purnama in 14.45.
After three rounds the girls javelin was a fairly close battle between Korea’s Youngin Kang and Wan-Chi Chang of Chinese Taipei, with both throwing in the 45 to 47 metre range. But the competition was ripped apart in round four when Kang, added four metres to her personal best with an enormous throw of 54.31m. The distance also moved Kang from outside the world top 12 rankings to number three under-17 javelin thrower this year. After temporarily losing second position, Chang closed out the competition herself with a personal best of 47.75m and the silver medal.
Local athlete, Yin Dong from Lianyungang city in Jiangsu Province, dominated the girls’ shot put. Her winning put of 15.58m eventually would have been sufficient to win, but she extended this twice, with marks of 16.69m and 16.84m to claim the gold by 1.58 metres from Korea’s Yusun Jeong who put 15.26 on her fifth attempt. Dong’s distance also moved her to number four in the world.
“Firstly, I’d like to appreciate government officials for their help and support. Then, I want to celebrate and share my joy with my coach,” said Dong, referring to one of the meet’s most successful coaches, Junwei Yang who also coaches last evening boys’ hammer throwing champion Yuanbo Ding. Dong and Ding attend the Lianyungang Sports School.
“She was a little impetuous in her second put, so I told her that she should watch her psychological attitude,” said coach Yang.
“She will try her best to take part in Youth Olympic Games next year. I hope she can be selected to the national team. She trains five times a week and every time for 1.5 hours.”
Syria’s Raya Fatima had little trouble accounting for the girls’ 2000 metres steeplechase field. After running the initial lap with the pack, Fatima moved away from the field, and was particularly strong over the last lap to cross the line in 7:07.82, over 20 seconds ahead of silver medallist Vietnam’s Thi Mai Tran.
Thi Truc Nguyen (VIE) claimed the toughest leg of a potential horizontal jumps double, when she took gold in the girls’ long jump. Nguyen, leapt a best of 5.90m on her third attempt, just short of her national junior championships winning distance of 5.97m. One of the finest triple jumpers in the world for her age, Nguyen starts favourite tomorrow night in her speciality.
Thailand’s Khathawut Meanim, bounded into the world’s top-10 boys’ triple jumpers with a first round personal best of 15.11m, a distance which would hold up for gold.
There was a close battle in the boys’ 2000m steeplechase until the bell, when Hu Ma sprinted away from his teammate Aihemaiti Ainikeerjiang. Ma, who clocked 5:53.16 was so excited he sprinted a victory.
“I didn’t expect that I would get such a great result before the race,” said Ma, an inexperienced steeplechaser. “It hasn’t been long since I practiced steeplechase running, I feared that I won’t get past those barriers.”
The Chinese teammates had run side by side until the bell.
“He (the silver) and I are teammates. We cooperated with each other during the race. I followed him rather than run ahead.”
Ainikeerjiang, from Inner Mongolia, clocked 6:00.31, 10 seconds outside his goal.
“I didn’t feel very good today, but it was passable, because my goal is 5:50 minutes. My teammate (Ma) and I had a strategy today because my usual performance is better than his, so I led. On the last lap, me and him, sprinted for the gold, but I was worn out, so I only get the silver medal.”
It has taken time for Ainikeerjiang to convince family and friends to support him in his running.
“I started practicing athletics when I was 12, and at first my mom didn’t allow me to practice athletics because she thought it was too hard for me, but I didn’t think so and have stuck to it. There were people who doubted my ability, but I wasn’t affected by what others said, and I tried my best and ranked second place when they selected athletes to participate in the AYG, and I made it and proved myself now.”
David Tarbotton for Athletics Illustrated