Day 3 – Aspiring to Inspire as Africans Keep on Track

9th September – Competition Overview

“ Inspiring other young people is really exciting because I’ve always looked up to role models myself, so being able to be looked up to for what I achieve in a small way, is really cool and I hope I can be a good role model for them too.”

Wilrich Coetzee Gold Medallist in the 100m Butterfly for New Zealand expressed these thoughts about how he realizes how his own performances may inspire other young people.

It is commonplace to think that the young are inspired by their experienced elders. However, it is also true how they can also inspire each other.

Day 3 of competition, this inspiration was on show in many forms from the young athletes. Determination, overcoming adversity, friendship, maturity and hard work were all on show.

The last day of Athletics competition at Apia Park before the popular Rugby 7’s pick up the baton, saw drama unfold in a number of the track events. However, first up was a Field Final.

Jamaicans are renowned for their sprint exploits but Kevin Nedrick of Jamaica is building a reputation for his talents in the throwing events. On the last day of Athletics he claimed Gold in the Shot Put with a throw of 20.12m. He took time out to explain not only his thoughts on the competition, but also what effect this result may have on other young people at home;

“ I’m feeling excited, I didn’t do as well as I expected earlier this week in the Discus and so I was just aiming to come back and do my best in the Shot Put. After my first throw my coach advised me to get hard with my hips and so my second throw was a PB of 19.34, I was going for it from there on in. My coach told me if I got 20m get 21m and so on. I wasn’t nervous until the final throw when I was second and I knew that I had to make my final throw count. Winning a Gold medal here will make the programme better at my school, so I’m both grateful and excited.”

It was an all African Final of the Women’s 3000m. An early break saw a Kenyan and two Ugandan athletes break decisively clear of the field. Eventually, Sheila Chelangat of Kenya won in 9 minutes 10.12 seconds ahead of Ugandan athletes Peruth Chemutai and Janat Chemusto.

Sheila went through the laps as if moving to a metronome in the heat of the day, but still felt she had more to offer;

“ My personal best was 9 minutes and 4 seconds but I’m happy and I felt I was getting stronger each lap.”

3000m Men’s runner Davis Kiplangat from Kenya, followed up with a Gold Medal performance in the next race. With an equally impressive pace over the seven and a half laps, he still had to break away from fellow Kenyan Richard Kimunyan. Remarkably, at the line only 0.22 seconds split the two.

Despite the brutal pace, the minor positions were equally contested with Tsepo Ramashamole of Lesotho and Australian Josh Torley bringing the crowd to their feet. Not for bronze, but for 5th place. A sprint to the line which left both gasping for air and gaining respect in equal measures. Only 0.06 seconds separated them. All week we have seen Athletes give their all, and here was another example set to a backdrop of friendship as the Kenyan medalists beckoned 3rd place Alex Yee of England to join them on a lap of honour in the back straight.

The Women’s 100m Hurdles was won by Taylon Bieldt of South Africa in 13.18 seconds, but that only told half the story as favourite to win the title, Alicia Barrett of England hit hurdle three and slumped out of the race.

Taylon was aware of the drama unfolding around her;

” Well I knew she was big competition so what I did was I went out hard and at the third hurdle I noticed that I was running alone and I could see on my right side the Australian running with me, so I was just going for it and concentrating on my own race from there. I ran a PB of 13.18, which is also a National Record in South Africa, so I’m very happy.”

Countries ‘doubling up’ in winning Golds in the same discipline, has been a feature of these Games. It was South Africa’s turn this time, with Mpho Tladi comfortably winning the Men’s 110m Hurdles. Drama once again unfolded behind the winner. Tongan athlete, Tevita Sulunga was in line for Silver Medal when he hit the last hurdle and crashed out in the most cruel fashion.

Nigeria have been prominent in the sprint events at Apia Park and Idamadudu Oghenefejiro added another Gold and a PB to her tally by crossing the line in 23.30 seconds in the 200m event for women. Scottish athlete Alisha Rees came home in 23.61 seconds ahead of another Nigerian talent, Etim Alphonsus.

Tiotliso Leotlela of South Africa fought the closest race of the day in the Men’s 200m. Toby Harries of England pushed him all the way, once again, bringing a roar from the crowd as they crossed the line together in exactly the same time of 20.56 seconds. The resulting photograph saw Tiotliso get the ‘nod’ to be crowned Commonwealth Youth Champion. Another South African athlete, Kyle Appel finished third.

Clearly delighted, Tiotliso reflected on his run;

“It was a good performance, it was a good run, I’m happy (with) the way I ran the race. Anything can happen in Athletics, I just did my best, and the outcome was I won. I felt great, I just ran my own race, and I’m happy.”

The South African Track and field team deserve special mention. With just 7 athletes in the team, every athlete has won a medal.

The thrills and spills hadn’t finished there. Those who watched Amy Harding –Delooze claim the Women’s 1500m title earlier this week for Australia, will find the story of how Amy won the 800m Gold no surprise. Once again, she came from nowhere in the last 200m to time her finish to perfection.

“I just had this rush of adrenaline down the straight, and I just sprinted. When the bell rang I was hoping to get a medal, and with 200 to go I just started catching people.”

It was another one-two for Kenya in the Men’s 800m with Willy Tarbei and Bett Kipyegon leading his field home ahead of Scotland’s Ben Greenwood.

Junelle Bromfield collected her second Gold of the week. The young Jamaican won the 400m Hurdles this time. Her compatriot Jauavney James was pipped for a Jamaican double in the Men’s one lap event by Rivaldo Leacock of Barbados who won in a time of 51.52 seconds.

In the 4 x 100m Nigeria’s Women maintained their dominance of the sprints in the Athletics, coming home nearly 2 seconds ahead of Australia and home team Samoa, who collected their third relay medal this week. Botswana won the Men’s version, once gain ahead of Australia.

The third day of weightlifting action, once again saw the auditorium filled with Pacific islanders hoping for further success. This time it was the Samoan flags in evidence hoping for the Opeloge family to continue their run of Commonwealth success. It was Don Opeloge’s turn this time. Unfortunately, for the home support it was not to be as Ajhmed Nioya of Cameroon won the 77kg version of the event with Don finishing third on the podium.

The 16 yr old winner described how special both the Games and the event were for him.

‘’I come here to defend the color of my country, and to get involved and practice the sport that I love. I like it with all my soul.’’

Fiji pushed hard to win yet another medal in the Weightlifting event. In the 63kg, 69kg, Women’s Final Eileen Cikamatana and Maraia Moana gained Silver and Bronze respectively but were a long way behind Rebekah Tiler of England whose combined weight lifted nearly 50kg more than her competitors.

The Youth Games are about bringing the Commonwealth’s youth together in the widest sense as well as on the sporting field in competition. The Archery Mixed Team event goes one step further and combines nations together in pairs who compete against other pairs of nations.

Teams are compiled on the basis of their total ranking round score in an attempt to make teams even. The end product was India and Cyprus beating New Zealand and Isle of Man to share a Golden moment together.

At the Aquatics Centre, it was another successful evening for Australia, who made the top podium five times.

Ariarne Titmus started the Gold rush in the 400m Freestyle narrowly touching ahead and denying England’s Georgina Boyle a second Gold Medal in the pool.

Afterwards she described the race and how her victory may inspire and inform other young swimmers back home;

“It was a bit below my PB, but I aimed to take it out pretty hard and try and hold on and it was pretty good as I’ve been racing for 9 days. I hope I can inspire young people about how hard work can pay off and how they can achieve this feeling I have.”

Gemma Cooney of Australia was swimming in her favourite event, and it showed, as she headed the field home in the 100m Butterfly.

“ It was a little bit off my PB, but I’m still happy with it. I think for young Australians it’s really good for them to see Australia up there and doing well. For me the Commonwealth Games has been a privilege and dream for me. I grew up watching the Comm’ Games and to come here and get such experience at such a young level is a great feeling.”

Competition closed in the pool with Australia sweeping up in the 4 x 100m Relays.

By The Reporters’ Academy