The 1st Asian Youth Athletics Championships, the inaugural edition of the competition for 16- and 17-year-old boys and girls, successfully commenced on May 8 in Doha. Day 1 was full of thrills and spills on track and was brilliant in terms of organisation.
China’s Yu Yuzhen needed only one attempt to set a new Javelin Throw World Youth Best with a 500g spec, with 61.97m an astonishing feat for the 17-year-old girl hailing from Fujian province. The previous world best belonged to Australia’s Mackenzie Little and was set on 11 July 2013 in Donetsk, Ukraine. However, another Chinese youth athlete, Xue Juan, threw 62.93m with the senior spec (600g) in 2003, a measure which is officially considered the World Youth best.
“I am so excited! Not only I won the gold medal, but I threw farther than anyone else before with the 500g spec and all of this in my first trip outside China.
“To be honest, I am not that surprised with the distance. I usually throw 57m or so in training with the 600g javelin, so an over 60m mark was well within my reach.”
Yuzhen got involved in athletics only three years ago, but she has progressed rapidly and has already set high standards for her career.
“My dreams go far beyond a youth category title. I don’t underestimate that feat, of course, but I want to be an Olympic champion one day, like my idol, Jan Zelezny. He is the best javelin thrower ever,” added Yuzhen who also loves playing and watching basketball.
The first gold medal in running events went to the hosting country, Qatar, courtesy of a Muhand Khamis Saifeldin’s victory in the 2000m Steeplechase. The young Qatari beat his opponents with a late kick to finish first in 5:54.34, a time fast enough to secure him a place at the World Youth Championships that will be held in July in Cali, Colombia.
“It was really tough. In the last 400m I had to push hard, but I was determined to win and nothing could have stopped me,” said the winner, who added: “I am really happy with the win and with my time which helped me claim my ticket for Cali. I owe a lot to my father, a former runner, who inspired me to follow athletics.”
Saifeldin received his gold medal by the Asian Athletics Association and Qatar Athletics Federation President, Dahlan Al Hamad, who earlier on officially opened the 1st Asian Youth Championships:
“Young future champions and heroes of tomorrow: today you are here in the land which will host the 2019 IAAF World Championships. We all hope champions from this competition will participate in various future global events and will be among the top and in the pursuit of gold medals in the land that loves excellence.
“Our vibrant continent, with its large population is privileged with the insistence of national athletics federations to provide all means that ensure successful careers for today’s talents” cited President Al Hamad.
Back to the track action, the prestigious and always popular 100m dash was won by Taipei’s Yu Sen Shen, with a time of 10.48s.
“I tried my best against a very strong field. I am satisfied with my win and the time, which is very close to my 10.43 personal best,” commented the fastest Asian youth athlete.
In the women’s 100m race, Poon Hang Wai clocked 12.27s to claim the gold medal ahead of Lebanon’s Lea Paul Obeid, who finished second in 12.32s.
“Winning the 100m gold is a great feeling. To do so with a personal best is even sweeter as I didn't expect to win. My main hope in these Championships is for the 200m, and I really hope to be able to medal there. I am very happy about tonight's race, I'll go out and give my best in the 200,” said the winner.
Hao Wein Ma, offered Taipei their second gold medal of the day with a comfortable (19.43m) win in Shot Put. The girl’s Discus Throw maiden Asian youth title went to China’s Dong Xiaocen who threw 45.58s and the 3000m race was won by Bahrain’s Fatuma Jewaro Chebsi in 9:30.17.
For full results and photos please visit athleticsasia.org.
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