David Tarbotton for Asian Athletics Association
The athletics program at the second Asian Youth Games commences tomorrow in the Olympics Sports Centre Stadium in the Chinese city of Nanjing. The AYG will conduct competition in 15 sports and similar to the 2009 AYG in Singapore, it is an ideal test event for the IOC Youth Olympic Games to be held 12 months later in the same city. Heat wave conditions are expected to ease slightly for the four evenings of competition commencing on Monday August 19.
2009 Asian Youth Games
The inaugural AYG were held in Singapore in June and July 2009 with 38 Asian Athletics Association member federations competing. At those Games China dominated the competition winning 12 medals including nine gold. There was a close battle between the next three delegations, Japan, Thailand and India, with each country winning eight medals and four gold. A total of 22 countries shared in the medal count.
Many of the athletes have in the ensuring years gone on to successfully compete at the major international meets including the IAAF world juniors, 2010 YOG, 2010 Commonwealth Games including: Korea’s Lee Sun-Yae who competed at the IAAF 2011 world championships and Japan’s Masaki Nashimoto who won silver in the 100m at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in a swift 10.51.
2013 Asian Youth Games Federations
In athletics 37 federations will contest the 2013 AYG, one less than in 2009, however a number of athletes will compete in the Independent Olympic Athletes team, and with entries numbering 400 athletes, it will be a more competitive event than the inaugural games.
Host nation, China, will be represented by the largest delegation of 61 athletes, followed by Thailand with 30 and Chinese Taipei 25 athletes. Three nations that did not compete in athletics in 2009, join the games in 2013: Afghanistan, Lebanon and Malaysia.
2013 Asian Youth Games feature athletes
The competition is for athletes in the under-17 age division, however a few under-18 athletes will compete for the Independent Olympic Athletes team. There are a number of the world’s leading under-17 year old athletes entered for competition including:
LI Zhe (CHN) – boys 200m
Statistics: Finalist 2013 IAAF World Youth Championships; PB 21.49; U17 world ranking 10th
LI Zhe, from Hubei province, is one of the leading and most consistent sprinters at the 2013 AYG clocking five times under 21.70 this year. He progressed through the heat, semi and into the final at the IAAF world youth championships in Donetsk in the Ukraine in July. He clocked his personal best of 21.49 in the semi-final. He has also run 10.68 for the 100m this season. Li faces good competition from Thailand’s Nutthapong Weerawongratanasiri (THA) who in June, won the 200m at the SEA Youth Athletics championships in Ho-Chi-Minh where he clocked an impressive 21.53.
LIU Hongliang (CHN) – boys 3000m
Statistics: PBs 3000m 8:28.19, 5000m 14:20.44; U17 world rankings 3000m 10th, 5000m 3rd
Liu Hongliang, China’s national youth 1500m and 3000m champion, will start as favourite in the 3000m in Nanjing. From the providence of Inner Mongolia, Liu has been competitive with the nation’s senior athletes placing fourth in the 5000 metres at the senior national grand prix final where he clocked a time of 14:20.44 to rank him number three under-17 in the world.
FURUYA Takumu (JPN) – boys 400m hurdles
Statistics: PB 51.00; 4th place IAAF world youth championships; U17 world ranking 1st
Takumu Furuya of Japan is one of the competitions leading athletes. In July, the 16-year-old placed fourth at the IAAF world youth (under-18) championships. He clocked his personal best of 51.00 in the semi-final, a time that remains over a second faster than any other 16-year-old in the world. Earlier this month, he tuned up the AYG by winning the Japanese national schools championships in 51.16.
BAI Jiaxu (CHN) – boys high jump
Statistics: PB 2.18m; silver medallist IAAF world youth championships; U17 world ranking 1st
Bai Jiaxu, at just 15, is the world’s second best under-18 athlete following his silver medal winning result at the IAAF world youth championships last month in the Ukraine. Bai, from Shanxi province, has compiled a consistent record this year, with three competitions at 2.15m or higher. Tremendous competition will be provided by Japan’s 2.10m jumper, Yuji Hiramatsu, who is the fourth ranked under-17 athlete in the world.
CHENG Yulong (CHN) – boys discus
Statistics: PB 62.80m; bronze medal IAAF world youth championships; U17 world ranking 1st
Cheng Yulong, a bronze medallist at the recent IAAF world youth championships, carries the pressure of being a local favourite as he is from the province of Jiangsu. The world’s leading under-17 discus thrower, Cheng, is also a handy shot putter with a best of 17.77m.
DING Yuanbo (CHN) – boys hammer throw
Statistics: PB 67.46m; U17 world ranking 2nd
Another with the pressure of being a local from the Jiangsu province is hammer thrower Ding Yuanbo. He is the world’s second best under-17 thrower with a best of 67.46, recorded in April when he won the national youth title for China.
CHAND Duttee (AOI) – girls 100m
Statistics: PB 11.62; finalist IAAF world youth championships
At the IAAF world youth championships in July, Duttee Chand set an Indian national record of 11.62 as she progressed to the final. She also has impressive 200m and 400m pbs of 23.76 and 55.55.
ANDO Fukiko (JPN) – girls 3000m
Statistics: PB 9:13.24; U17 world ranking 5th
Fukiki Ando is expected to be one of the most comfortable winners at the games, as she possess a personal best nearly a minute ahead of her closest rival. Her best time of 9:13.24 was recorded this month at the national high school championships of Japan.
FUJIMORI Nana (JPN) – girls 100m hurdles
Statistics: PB 13.66; semi-finalist IAAF world youth championships
Nana Fujimori progressed to the semi-finalist at the recent IAAF world youth championships where she clocked 13.75, just outside her personal best of 13.66, recorded in 2012.
NGUYEN Thi Truc Mai (VIE) – girls triple jump
Statistics: PB 12.76m; U17 world ranking 4th
The national junior champion of Vietnam, Thi Truc Mai Nguyen is the world’s fourth best under-17 triple jumper. She is also a capable long jumper with a personal best of 5.97m.
David Tarbotton for Asian Athletics Association