Xu takes 400 meters hurdles in photo finish, Bach praises China
(Reuters) – China were left celebrating more Youth Olympic gold in dramatic style on Monday as Xu Zhihang won the men’s 400 meters hurdles in a photo finish after clocking the same time as Tunisian Fares Mohamed Jlasi.
The two crossed the line at the Nanjing Stadium in 50.61 seconds after Jlasi closed the gap on the home favorite after crossing the final hurdle down on the Chinese.
The exhausted duo lay sprawled across the track after collapsing over the line before Xu lept to his feet to celebrate after officials sided with him upon reviewing the footage.
The gold cemented the hosts’ place at the top of the medals table with two more days competition remaining in the second Youth Games, for athletes aged 14-18.
Xu’s success was followed by diver Wu Shengping adding her second gold of the Games in the women’s 3 meter springboard, while Li Jiaman matched her brace of wins by taking gold in the women’s recurve individual event.
Li needed a shootoff to edge Melanie Gaubil of France. Li fired a perfect 10 with her arrow in the decider while Gaubil just missed the bullseye and had to settle for silver.
“In the shootoff, I was really nervous and was sweating all-over,” said 17-year-old Li, who also took gold in the mixed international team event on Sunday.
“I felt that my parents, all my family members and the entire country were watching me, so I was really nervous. But I took a few seconds and calmed myself down.”
Wu also needed to compose herself during the diving competition as the noisy crowd threatened to derail China’s bid for a clean sweep.
The 18-year-old, though, managed to deliver the best dive of the day to take the win and leave China three-from-three off the boards with two diving events remaining.
“On the first dive in the round, I waited until the crowd stopped clapping and then I proceeded,” she said.
“After the second round I felt confident that I could win the second gold.”
Also confident of gold was American middle distance runner Myles Marshall who stormed back to take the men’s 800 meters ahead of Moroccan Mohamed Elamrani.
“I came here for gold,” Marshall said. “Once I came around that last curve I heard USA cheering, I took a little tiny peek at the screen, I realized I was having a nice gap, but I kept up and when I finished I knew I had the gold.
“I let him overtake me, I wasn’t going to fight for the lead, I just knew at 300m to go that I had to go. And I did go, and that worked out pretty well.”
In the mixed team golf competition, Denmark lead the way with a day’s play to come thanks in part to a hole-in-one from John Paul Pultz Pinnerup Axelsen. The ace came at the Par 3 third hole, six days after Canadian Tony Gil became the first player to score a hole-in-one at the Olympics.
“It was amazing, I couldn’t have hit it better,” said 16-year-old Axelsen. “It had three meters of draw, landed two inches before the hole and fell in. It was just perfect.”
Axelsen’s happiness will be echoed by Nanjing organizers who were praised by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach for the smooth running of the second Youth Games.
The German said the event for over 3,800 athletes had been “seemless” and “flawless”.
“It was a great combination of friendliness and efficiency at the same time. If you have the two together, you are guaranteed to have a successful games,” he said, adding the good work had aided Beijing’s bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.
“It is a good showcase for China, and will, of course, support the bid of Beijing.”
(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; editing by Justin Palmer)