Thornton wins gold, Geddes, Williams and James get bronze
23 August 2014
ATHLETICS: The Aussie have won four medal from four attempts on the first night of athletics finals at the Youth Olympics Games. Jess Thornton (gold-400m), Sam Geddes (bronze-100m), Trae Williams (bronze-100m) and Shemaiah James (bronze-high jump) all leave the Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre with a medal around their necks.
Australia loves a 400m runner, and Sydneysider Jessica Thornton has announced herself on the world stage with a staggering victory in the 400m final at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.
Thornton, the quickest qualifier into the final with a personal best time of 52.75s, ran 52.50s to take the win ahead of Salwa Naser (BRN) in 52.74 and Meleni Rodney (GRN) in 53.33s.
“I loved it! Running out there in front of this crowd was so good, the atmosphere was amazing. All the screaming, all the cheering even if it wasn’t for me helped me run.”
With another blistering start, Thornton held her position down the back straight before running a huge final bend to set up the win. Nobody was passing this determined Aussie as she stormed to Australia’s first athletics medal at the YOG.
“I just tried to do what my heat was, just go out hard, pace the back and then sprint finish and leave nothing on the track,” Thornton said.
“I was ranked seventh or something coming into this [the Games] and a lot of them were a second faster than me, so I tried my best which got me past the qualifier and into the final, and then I won the final, it's so good!”
Not long after, one of Thornton’s best friends Sam Geddes ran like a champion to steal bronze in the 100m final in 11.76.
“This is my first international event, so to be able to not only come here and compete and experience the whole phenomenon of a Youth Olympics, but to get a medal...,” Geddes said as she struggled to restrain her elation.
The girls had a nervous start, with Poland’s Ewa Nikola Swoboda disqualified for a false start. That left the lane next to Geddes open, but one lane away home favourite Xiaojing got the job done in a snappy 11.65. Cypriot Paraskevi Andreou, Geddes and Bliss Jade Sloeyn (ANT) crossed the line in a blur.
Just like Sally Pearson at the London Olympic Games, Geddes had to stare up at the big screen to see if her name would be there for a medal- and it was. Geddes took the bronze in 11.76- just 0.01s ahead of Sloeyn in fourth with Andreou taking the silver.
“I was looking at the board and waiting for that third name to come up and it was me and I was like ‘Oh my God!’”
You could not script a more dramatic build up to Trae Williams’ 100m final, with the Australian national anthem playing for Thornton as he stood on the start line as the fastest qualifier in the men’s 100m final.
Williams started well despite a slip in the blocks but had a fight on his hands from Zambia’s Sydney Siame and Japanese sprinter Kenta Oshima. The three crossed the line in a blanket finish, and on review Williams was awarded the bronze in 10.60 to match his counterpart Geddes.
“I’m overwhelmed! I’m stoked, I couldn’t be any happier, a medal in the Youth Olympics, it’s so great!” the 16-year-old said.
“Everything I’ve worked for, all the work has paid off, it’s great.”
Much to the delight of a small but vocal Zambian contingent, Siame won the gold in 10.56 ahead of Oshima in 10.57.
Amid all of this excitement, high jumper Shemaiah James flew over his personal best height to take the bronze medal with a jump of 2.14m. James qualified for the final with a jump of 2.07m but knew he could eclipse his personal best of 2.10m if all went to plan in the final. And that it did.
James had only one slip-up on his first 2.08m attempt, but jumped clear at 2.11m and 2.14m on his first attempts. He could not crack 2.16m after three jumps and took bronze behind Russian favourite Danil Lysenko who soared to an incredible 2.20m.
“It was really unexpected. To come out with a performance like that... I’ll take it. I couldn’t ask for more. I felt a lot better than I did in the qualifying round. Just getting the Australian team around me, helped inspire me,” an excited James said.
“I can’t describe the feeling of winning a medal. It is crazy."
Alina Tape also took to the track this evening, lining up at the blocks for the women’s 800m. The 17-year-old from New South Wales fought a hard race against some formidable runners. The teen clocked a time of 2:12.57, putting her in the sixth spot. In the end, Faheemah Scraders of Bermuda took the gold with a time of 2:10.66, setting a new seasons best.
Earlier in the evening, Sydney schoolboy Nick Andrews had to withdraw from the men's 110m hurdles B Final when his back flared during warm up.
Andrews knew he could have given the B Final a shake-up and was disappointed not to have a shot at racing.
Taya Conomos and Sam Rawlings