Day 5 – Competition Overview
After 5 days at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa, 107 gold medals have been won, 40 countries flags raised, 9 sports have been played and up to 1000 young Commonwealth athletes aged 14-18 have competed.
As the Games come to a close, Tennis and Rugby 7’s conclude the happenings here in Samoa.
India dominated in the tennis, with young guns Dhruthi Tatachar Venugopal and Sasi Kumar Mukund both taking Gold in their Singles to follow up on their Mixed Doubles success. Therefore, winning all three events that they entered.
Venugopal took control of her Women’s Singles match against Namibia’s Lesedi Jacobs, winning in straight sets. Her powerful ground strokes being a particular feature of her game. The final score of 6-3, 6-0 was a little closer than indicated with Jacobs being gradually worn down in the Second Set. A delighted Dhruthi spoke after the match;
“I stayed focus and gave my best every time I was on court and I think that’s what got me through…Today was definitely one of the best games.”
Sasi Kumar Mukund controlled the game with his fast serves and power hits, proving too good for his Scottish opponent, Ewen Lumsden winning the first set; 6 games to 1. He took out the second set with relative ease; 6 games to 2.
“For this match I was really confident. Going in I knew that I was going to play really well, I just had the will to win and I always give 100%”.
The two young Indians’ came together to take the Gold Medal for the Mixed Doubles Final with the two expressing how they enjoy playing together, despite only just forming the duo;
“It was the first time playing together and it was amazing playing with him (Kumar Mukund), it was a good experience. I hope we can play together in the future”
Following the Medal Ceremony, Women’s Doubles winners Rebekah O’Loughlin and Joely Lomas from Wales expressed their excitement;
“We’re both so honoured and both really excited for our country, it’s a big honour for both of us to win as it’s such a great opportunity for us both to be here; it’s kind of unbelievable”.
Another success story came in the Men’s Doubles with brothers from Guernsey, Brent and Jack Oldfield winning their Final. The brothers from Guernsey spoke about their gratitude of being part of the event;
“We’re just happy to compete at such a high level. We weren’t even thinking about the podium none the less gold, it’s just a great feeling winning Gold for Guernsey and our families”.
Tennis excitement aside, it was now time for the Rugby 7’s finals, kicking off with Canada and Australia going head to head in a bid to win gold in the Women’s Team event.
Australia took control of the game against Canada straight away, scoring 3 tries in the first 5 minutes. Australia kept the momentum going and didn’t slow down, easing home by 31 to 5.
Australian captain Laura Waldie spoke of the team’s effort on the field straight after the game;
“We’re not the biggest team so we had to be really tactical in what we did. Finally we executed all our plays and we were just lucky everything came off”.
Another member of the ecstatic Aussie team, Shenae Ciesiolka, talked of how the game unfolded;
“We went out there and said we were going to work as a team and work with each other. I definitely think it was our best performance so far in this tournament. We just worked for each other and for our country”.
It was then time for the Australian and South African Men’s Rugby 7’s teams to face off for the Gold Medal.
It was an exciting game, seeing South Africa starting with all the momentum, going up 17-0 in the first half. The second half saw something spark in the Aussies as they showed signs of a comeback, bringing the score from 5-24 to 20-24 in a matter of minutes. As the largely Australian populated crowd got excited, Australia gave South Africa the open field in a last bid to seal Gold. South Africa stole a try through the gaps to clinch victory 31-20. The young Africans excitement was evident as the whole team danced and cheered along with coaches and backroom staff.
The men’s African captain Heino Bezuidenhout put into words the team’s joy:
“This is the best feeling in the world, definitely the highlight of my rugby career so far. I absolutely love this feeling. I’m so proud of all the boys in this team, we love this game it’s such an honour.”
Teammate Donovan Du Randt, gave credit to the crowd.
“We probably actually could have performed better but we did play really well and we did put up that big score which made it hard for them to come back in the 2nd half. We just heard the fans chanting and we knew we could pull this off; and we did”
As the final athletes stepped up onto the podium to sing their national anthem, volunteers and organisers bustle about behind the scenes to prepare for the evening’s Closing Ceremony.
Samoa can be proud of the event they’ve hosted for the Commonwealth, successfully pulling off a great 5 days for all athletes, coaches, volunteers and teams involved.
By The Reporters’ Academy