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China continues domination as the 1st Asian Youth Championships conclude in Doha

Doha, 11/05/2015 - Four days of pure thrilling and unforgettable athletics climaxed on Monday 11 May as the 1st Asian Youth Athletics Championships concluded with a grand finale at the Qatar Sports Club, with China’s Ding Shuo tying the 2015 world lead with 2.15 in a spectacular High Jump final. 

Overall, a total of 16 countries won a gold medal, while 27 saw at least one of their athletes stepping on the podium. China topped the rankings snatching 15 gold, 11 silver and 5 bronze medals. 

The High Jump final was nothing short of epic. Four athletes, Ding Shuo (China), Roshan Dammika Ranatungage (Sri Lanka), Hussein Falah Hasan Al-Ibraheemi (Iraq) and Tejaswin Shanker (India), all cleared 2.12, a world-class mark and a measure that would have qualified for the World Youth Championships final two years ago in Donetsk. When the bar was raised to the 2.15 mark though, all but Shuo failed, with Ranatungage going the closest to clearing with some very close jumps. 

In the Discus Throw, Iran’s Sajjad Hassan Zare fell far from his true potential, but his effort was adequate enough to award him gold. The 17-year-old from the city of Masha threw 53.06, well behind his 57.86 personal best, but he was a class of his own nonetheless. Ehsan Haddadi, the 2012 Olympic Games silver medalist and 2011 World Championships bronze medalist is held as an inspiration by Zare and is a role model for many young Iranians, who aim to imitate his heroics.

“It’s been only three years since I started training. I have met Haddadi once. He came to see me training and advised me to improve my technique and work on my speed, to become a champion like him,” said Zare, who had never competed outside Iran before.

“I have already qualified for the World Youth Championships in Cali. I know I can better my record and fight for gold in Colombia. I dream of seeing myself winning the Olympic gold medal one day.”

China’s Zhang Jun captured the last day’s first medal in the morning session with a clear victory in the 10K Walk (44:00.87). As soon as the evening session commenced, Huang Jiaxin added more silverware to the Chinese medal collection with a comfortable win in the 200m, clocking 24.67. 

The winner of the Girls’ 100m, Poon Hang Wai of Hong Kong, may have finished in disappointing sixth place in the 200m, but the boys’ 100m dash winner was more prolific than his female counterpart. Yu Sen Shen doubled his gold medals at the 1st Asian Youth Championships with a well-deserved 200m victory. The slender sprinter from Taipei kept among the leaders over the bend and powered past everyone on the home straight, to finish in 21.69. 

Sri Lanka’s Yamani Dulanjalee Mudiyanselage and Kazakhstan’s Mariya Ovchinikova saved the best for last, offering their respective countries their first gold medals at the Championships. The former won in the 400m Hurdles in 1:01.27 and the latter leaped 12.81 in the Triple Jump, the sixth best performance in the world this year. Just a few moments later, Kazakhstan prevailed in another discipline, the Girl’s Pole Vault, with Anna Danilovskaya sailing over 3.70.

The national anthem of Thailand was also played for the first time today, following Witthawat Thumcha’s hard-fought 400m Hurdles victory in 52.45. Sri Lanka nearly doubled their gold medals in the hurdles but Darshana M S U Kuamrabatagallalage had to settle with a close second place in 52.88.  

Elsewhere, China’s Zhou Jungjing scored 5000 points in the Heptathlon to claim gold and Bahrain’s Dalila Abdulkadir Gosa made it look easy as he ran to a 1500m victory finishing in 4:19.95, the fifth best time in the world for 2015. China won both Medley Relays, the Boys finishing in 1:53.34 and the Girls in 2:13.32.

Vladislav Palyunin set World Youth best in Javelin- Day 3 of Asian Youth Athletics

Three newly crowned Asian youth champions impressed on Day 3 of the 1st Asian Youth Athletics Championships in Doha, setting world leading performances and sending a strong signal to their rivals just two months before the 9th IAAF World Youth Championships in Cali, Colombia.  

Day 3 also saw the names of four more nations, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Japan, added onto the list of countries which have won at least one gold medal, bringing the total number to twelve.

The star of the day was China’s hammer thrower Xu Wenjie. The young athlete followed the footsteps of many great Chinese hammer throwers of the past to win the event with a massive 75.15 throw, a national youth best and the second best performance of all-time, second only to Hungary’s Reka Gyuratz 76.04 wortd youth best. India’s Ashish Jakhar was also impressive with 71.79, the fifth best throw ever for the youth category. 

In the boy’s events, the athlete to watch was undoubtedly Uzbekistan’s Vladislav Palyunin. The 17-year-old from Uzbekistan, who lives, trains and studies in Dubai, bettered his personal best by 18 metres, to claim gold in the Javelin Throw with 79.11, the best performance in the world for 2015. 

“I didn’t train much the last couple of years due to hepatitis. That explains the huge improvement, but I knew I was capable of throwing that far. I can even exceed the 80m mark, but I guess even 79m would be enough to win gold in Cali,” said the overwhelmed winner. 

Vladislav’s father, Dmitry, is his idol. He had represented the Unified team at the 1992 Olympics, the Soviet Union at the 1991 World Championships and Uzbekistan at the 1993 World Championships. His personal record is 85.74. “My father introduced me to athletics, along with my uncle who was also a javelin thrower. I love athletics and I dream of becoming an Olympic champion one day.”

A few minutes after Palyunin’s victory, Uzbekistan captured gold, this time in the high jump, with Safina Sadullaeva, who beat Honk Kong’s Wong Yuen Nam on countback. Both athletes cleared 1.71 and a jump-off was needed to decide the winner. After both failed at 1.69, Safina cleared 1.67, while Wong failed. 

Another 2015 world youth best performance was set by Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser Naser in the 400m. The young Bahraini was simply irresistible with her perfect style and pace, finishing in 53.02. India’s Jisna Mathew trailed her with 53.84, the sixth fastest time in the world this year.

Kyrgyz Arina Kleshchukov set the pace in the 800m after the bell rang for the final round and survived a late surge by Japan’s Misato Kaneko, who pushed her hard in the final metres. Kleshchukov crossed the line in 2:14.73, with Kaneko following in 2:15.04. The real drama, however, unfolded in the battle for the bronze medal, when Kazakhstan’s Anastassiya Chshadylo tipped and fell while trying to reach the leaders. Lebanon’s Sara Joe Rafik Kortbawi took advantage of the Kazakh’s misfortune to pass her and claim the final spot on the podium. 

Pakistan’s Muhammad Afzal needed only one valid distance to win the Triple Jump with 15.44, ahead of Sri Lanka’s Chamal Kumarasiri Liyana Waduge, who had a large group of supporters to back him. This was the first medal for Sri Lanka at the 1st Asian Youth Championships and a personal best for the young Sri Lankan, whose previous record was 15.18. The pre-event favourite, India’s Sonu Kumar, leaped 15.08, some 42 centimetres behind his personal best to win bronze. 

Japan’s long-awaited maiden gold medal finally came today, courtesy of Kanae Sugimura’s victory in the Long Jump. The Japanese leaped 5.90 in her fourth attempt to surpass Korea’s Huijin Lee’s early lead (5.82). 

The formidable Chinese team excelled in running events as well, adding three more golds to their total tally. Hunag Peng prevailed in the 1500m with 4:05.85; Tian Wanhua dominated the 2000m Steeplechase with ease, clocking 7:01.06, ahead of North Korea’s Choe Kang Bonk, a distant second in 7:14.88; and finally, Wu Yu Ang ran close to his personal best (47.33) to win the 400m in style with a time of 47.55. Thailand celebrated their first medal, a silver with Nattapong Kongkraphan (48.02), as did Malaysia, courtesy of Russel Alexander Nasir, a resident of Tasmania, who was third in 49.07. 

“I am happy to have finished in a medal position as I have a pretty sore hamstring and I was unsure I would even be able to finish the race. It was actually pretty good on track - I started really well but in the last 150m I had nothing left in the tank,” said the bronze medallist.

“It's my first time competing internationally so there is so much to adapt to. Different time zones, climate: it is a great experience. I was born in Malaysia but my family moved to Tasmania when I was three years old and it's very different from Qatar. For the rest of my season, my aim is to prepare and perform well at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Samoa.”

Khaled Alsaid Fares from Kuwait won the 110m Hurdles, clocking 13.92 in a dramatic way. China’s Bo Xiaoshuai, who had beaten him in qualifying with a much better time (13.75), lead throughout the whole race but hit the last hurdle and lost his pace, eventually finishing second in 13.92. 

The Pole Vault title went to Taipei’s Yao Wen Yeh (4.90). 

Competition resumes tomorrow for the final day of the 1st Asian Youth Championships. For full results and info, visit www.athleticsasia.org

Qatar’s helping hand makes Yemeni trio’s Asian Youth Championships dream come true

Every athlete qualifying for a major championship has a story of sacrifice, hard work and overcoming difficulties. As the inaugural Asian Youth Championships kick into gear in Doha, however, this adage rings true for some athletes more than the others - and for none more so than the three-strong Yemeni contingent.

The trio of runners – Ebrahim Mohammed Shabil, Yahya Al Fakih and Entesar Muhsin Al Madhfari – had been competing at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China with their national team when the conflict erupted in their own country. Besides the obvious cost in human suffering resulting from it, the violence threatened to disrupt the months-long preparations the trio had put in ahead of their Doha performance. Fortunately, the world of sport, and in particular the Qatar Athletics Federation, came to the rescue.

“We did not expect anyone to support us after what happened in our home country,” said Shabil after a fine performance in the 2000m steeplechase, in which he finished fifth. “Qatar and its athletics federation took the initiative to invite us to reside and train in Doha ahead of the championships.”

The hospitality of Qatar, which provided funding for the athletes’ travel, accommodation and sustenance, proved a boon for the steeplechaser. “A month and a half in Doha was the best preparation I could have hoped for this championship. I improved my personal best [to 6:18.88] and I hope this will be an important step towards improving my level.”

Shabil’s teammates, unfortunately, weren’t able to claim similarly impressive results – Al Madhfari closing in last in the 3000m and Al Fakih being disqualified in the same 2000m steeplechase race in which his compatriot was participating; but considering the dire outlook for their preparations a mere two months ago, the sole result of being able to take part in these inaugural Asian Youth Championships was a success.

Al Madhfari’s race was exemplary of the determination of this group of athletes. The 17-year-old, who only found out she would be competing days before the event, collapsed after crossing the finish line, having given her all to complete the 3000m race.

“I was completely exhausted after the end, but I was just happy I could participate in these Championships,” said the runner, who originally took up the sport as a way to keep fit and has been involved in athletics for the last two years.

Like her team-mate, Al Madhfari has words of gratitude for the warm hospitality she was given in Doha. “I want to thank Qatar and the Athletics Federation for the wonderful reception we received. It made us feel as if we were in our home country: the crowd cheered me throughout the whole race. It was an amazing feeling.”

As for Shabil, boosted by this uplifting story of sporting solidarity and his good result in the race, the steeplechaser can now make plans for the rest of his season – a season that could have very well been derailed by the events in Yemen. “I will be taking part in the Arab Youth Athletics Championships in Tunisia next month, hoping to achieve a good result and qualify for the World Championships in China. That would be a dream.”

As his recent experience has shown, dreams do sometimes come true.

High-flying Beant Singh storms to 800m victory on Day 2 of the 1st Asian Youth Championships – China lead medal tally

Doha, 09.05.2015 - India’s 800m versatile runner Beant Singh was in the spotlight on Day 2 of the 1st Asian Youth Athletics Championships, held at Qatar Sports Club stadium in Doha.

The young Indian was in a class of his own in the two-lap event and strode to a comfortable victory, clocking 1.52.26, among top fastest time in the world this year in the youth category. 

“I was feeling really good for this race and I have been preparing really well for this competition, so to win is a great satisfaction,” said the winner, who added “I have only been in athletics for a short time, two or three years. I was a wrestler before and I was picked for a national team camp by World Champion and Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar. It was at this moment that I noticed I had a talent for middle distance running and I was encouraged to switch to athletics. Sushil remains a very big inspiration for me.

“Next stop for me is the IAAF World Youth Championships in Cali. I have set big expectations for myself - I want to beat the Indian national record there. I know I can run under 1:50- I have done it in training and I aim to run it at the Championships.” 

Singh’s was India’s first gold medal at these Championships, after one silver and two bronze medals on Day 1; and just a couple of hours later Kishan Tadvi who hails from tribal region of Western India state of Maharashtra made it two, by winning the 3000m in an equally dominant performance of 8:26.24. Yemen’s Yaser Salim Ba Gharb who, due to the ongoing turmoil in his country, has been living and training in Doha ever since the end of the World Cross Country Championships at the end of March, brought his country a rare medal, by finishing third in 8:37.65, right behind Japan’s Chihiro Ono (8:37.29).

Day 2, however, really belonged to China, whose athletes added four more gold medals to their tally, after capturing two on the opening day. As expected, the Chinese athletes dominated the Girls’ throwing events as well as walking. Shang Ningyu threw 66.59m, a new personal best that moves her up to fourth in the 2015 world list, while her fellow compatriot Yao Kailun was second with 60.16m. In the Shot Put, China’s Liu Ziyue tossed 16.08m in her final attempt and dramatically edged Korea’s Yuri Lee, who trailed with 16.00m after being in the lead from the very first throw. 

To no one’s surprise, China won the Girls’ 5000m Walk, which was held at 7:30 in the morning with Ma Zhenxia finishing in 23:45.19. Deng Xuelin was equally superb and stormed to an easy 100m Hurdles victory with a time of 13.62s, right before the curtain to fell to bring an end to Day Two.

Earlier on, South Korea had also celebrated their maiden victory at the 1st Asian Championships , courtesy of Youngbin Kim in Long Jump. Kim was in second place until Round 4 with 7.13m, behind Japan’s Yugo Sakai who had jumped 7.31m in his third attempt, but the Korean produced a massive leap measuring 7.49m on round 5 to snatch the gold medal. 

Day 2 proved to be a day of firsts, as Kuwait won their maiden gold medal as well, Mohammad Alferas accumulating by far the largest amount of points in the Decathlon. The Kuwaiti ran 10.9s in the 100m, leaped 6.54m in Long Jump, tossed 12.76m in Shot Put, jumped 1.88m in High Jump, finished in 50.49s in the 400m, ran 14.60s in the 110m Hurdles, threw 30.48m in the Discus and 48.63m in the Javelin, jumped 3.40m in the Pole Vault and finally clocked 4:54.0 in the 1500m for a total of 6,671 points, the third best mark in the world this season. India’s R. Rajesh was a distant second with 5,867 points.

For full results and photos please visit athleticsasia.org

China’s Yu Yuzhen dazzles on 1st Asian Youth Athletics Championships’ successful Day 1

Doha, 08.05.2015 - 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 http://athleticsasia.org/index.php/asian-youth-athletics-championships-2015-qatar