YOG Nanjing 2014: Brazil's sensation Santana downs own mark in men's 100m free

Youth Olympic Games

Matheus de Santana (BRA) finding out his new best time in 100m free - credit: Xinhua/Fei MaohuaNanjing proved a place of joy for the 395 swimmers that took part in the 36 events on the competition programme from August 17 to 22, 2014 at the Olympic Sports Centre Natatorium. A total 22 new world junior records were set, 14 in individual and eight in relay events.

Three new countries climbed the podium tonight: Croatia, Korea and Thailand, bringing to 29 the total of nations whose swimmers earned a youth Olympic medal. Host China topped the table with 17 medals (10 gold, 5 silver and 2 bronze). Only two nations, China and Russia, celebrated double champions in both women's and men's events: Shen Duo and Yu Hexin of China, and Rozaliya Nasretdinova and Evgeny Rylov of Russia. Hungary, Lithuania and the USA had young hopefuls accomplishing the same feat among girls: Liliana Szilagyi, Ruta Meilutyte and Hannah Moore, respectively.



Sizzling times and new records

The evening's finals session started on a high with Russian Rozaliya Nasretdinova powering her way in the women's 50m freestyle to down her own world junior record of 25.00 to post a swift 24.88. Australia's Ami Matsuo touched second in 25.27, bagging her first individual medal in Nanjing. Also new to the podium was Daria Ustinova of Russia, who claimed third spot in 25.56.



Russia's double Youth Olympic champion Rozaliya Nasretdinova in the 50m free and fly  - credit: Xinhua/Ding Xu


Another notable swim came from Chinese Li Guangyuan, who clocked a 1:56.94 to win the men's 200m backstroke, setting a world junior record and bettering the previous world junior best time of 1:57.92 by Italy's Luca Mencarini. Russian Evgeny Rylov, winner of the 50m and 100m backstroke events, had to settle for silver, clocking 1:57.08 while Luke Greenbank earned the first individual medal among boys for Great Britain in 1:59.03.

Post-event, Greenbank said: "I was about a second off my best time but I'm still pleased."

On his overall experience in Nanjing, he added: "It's so different from everything that I've seen before, it's great to race new people."

Hungary's boys Tamas Kenderesi and Benjamin Gratz finished 1-2 in the men's 200m butterfly in 1:55.95, a new world junior record, and 1:57.71, respectively. This was the first medal for Kenderesi while Gratz took home the men's 200m IM title on Day 2. Italy's Giacomo Carini placed third in 1:58.14, just edging Swiss Nils Liess for the final podium spot.

On his performance, Kenderesi said: "It was a very tight race with a very strong field. It's my first and unfortunately only medal but I'm very happy because it was the result for which I worked so hard and that I succeeded in achieving."



Giacomo Carini (ITA) and Tamas Kenderesi (HUN) shaking hands after the race - credit: Xinhua/Yan Yan 


Hungary continued to shine tonight with Liliana Szilagyi taking out the women's 100m butterfly in a world junior record time of 57.67. Szilagyi kept Chinese Zhang Yufei at bay to take home her second title after her win in the 200m butterfly on Day 2. The local talent posted 57.95 to edge Australian Brianna Throssell, who brought home a third bronze, clocking 59.12.

Post-race, Szilagyi, who was the youngest member of the Hungarian swimming team at the 2012 London Games, said: "It's a dream come true, besides, I did really good times. These six days were tiring." 

"Everyone was so kind, even among swimmers, like my rival Zhang Yufei of China. The atmosphere was excellent."



Hungarian Liliana Szilagyi thanking the cheering crowd after her win in the 100m butterfly - credit: Xinhua/Fei Maohua

Chasing his own world junior mark in the men's 100m freestyle, Brazilian sensation Matheus de Santana dominated the operations from the blocks to post 48.25, shaving 10 hundredths of a second off his previous record. 

On his race, Santana said: "I'm so happy I won this medal, it was my dream. In the last 50m, I knew I was leading and that I might have a shot at the gold."

Upgrading from his silver in the 50m freestyle, Santana said: "This gold is definitely a boost in motivation to keep going and hopefully take part in the 2016 Rio Olympics."

Local prospect Yu Hexin took second in 49.06 while Damian Wiering of Germany came all the way from lane 8 to secure the bronze in 49.07.


The happy newcomers (bis)

Ukraine's Anastasiya Malyavina, bronze medallist in the 100m breaststroke, dominated the 200m breaststroke with a time of 2:26.43. Jiwon Yang picked up the first medal for Korea in swimming, clocking 2:27.31 ahead of Hungarian Anna Sztankovics, who claimed her second bronze (after a first in the 50m breaststroke) in 2:27.66.

The women's 400m freestyle featured the evening's closest finish with all medallists touching within the same second. U.S. Hannah Moore led the whole way, touching home in 4:11.05. Sarisa Suwannachet offered Thailand its first medal, taking second in 4:11.23 while Kathrin Demler of Germany completed the podium in 4:11.25.

Post-race, Suwannachet said: "It was tough, I tried my best and I shaved 3 seconds of my personal best so I'm very happy."

The Thai swimmer happens to train in Brisbane, Australia with four-time Olympic medallist Park Tae-hwan of South Korea.

"Tae-hwan trains with us, he's an Olympic gold medallist [in the 400m freestyle] and still says 'hi' and is friendly to everyone."

Vietnamese Vien Nguyen Thi Anh took out the gold in the women's 200m IM on Day 1, claiming her country first medal at Youth Olympics including all sports.

"I'm so thrilled to have won this medal for my country," Vien said.

The Vietnamese did not qualify for the 400m freestyle final, having finished 13th in the morning heats. The Ho Chi Minh-based learned to swim in the Mekong Delta at 11. A few training camps in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, helped her strengthen her swimming skills. "My swimming idol is Missy Franklin," the 18-year-old added with a bright smile.



The women's 400m freestyle podium - credit: Xinhua/Fei Maohua


Nikola Obrovac was the suprise winner in the men's 50m breaststroke, clinching the first medal for Croatia in swimming in 27.83. Already owner of a silver and bronze in the 200m and 100m breaststroke events, Carlos Claverie of Venezuela snared another silver, posting 27.94. Russian favourite Anton Chupkov, winner of the 100m and bronze medallist in the 200m breastroke, rounded out the podium in 28.43.

The last event on the swimming programme, the mixed 4x100m medley relay, triggered a wave of enthusiasm in the audience as China added a fourth relay gold to their impressive tally. A team anchored by up-and-coming phenomenon Yu Hexin clocked 3:49.33 ahead of team Russia's 3:50.86. Australia, whose team had swept all relay events in Singapore four years ago, pocketed a fifth bronze in 3:52.45.



Yu Hexin celebrating China's victory in the mixed 4x100m medley relay - Xinhua/Huang Xiaobang