Nassau, Bahamas - With the first three days of competition concluded, the Bahamas 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games, which close this Sunday 23 July, reach their half-way point. All nine sports are underway, across two sporting complexes, including the Youth Games’ first ever presentations of Beach Soccer, Beach Volleyball, Judo and Women’s Boxing. Over 1,000 athletes are competing from 63 countries, many experiencing their first taste of international multi-sport competition.
Medals have so far been awarded in Athletics, Aquatics, Cycling (Road) and Judo, with England, New Zealand and Scotland leading the medal tally. Trinidad and Tobago have won their first ever Commonwealth Youth Games gold medal, thanks to Adell Colthrust’s 100m Men’s Final win, as have Bermuda, with Matthew Oliviera winning the Time Trial on the beautiful and baking-hot roads of New Providence. (Australia’s Madeleine Fasnacht won gold for the Women’s event).
Commonwealth Games Federation Chief Executive David Grevemberg CBE, said:
“After a high-energy Opening Ceremony of Bahamian beats and Caribbean carnival, attention has turned to the field of play. It’s a spectacular sporting showcase of the Commonwealth’s aspiring and inspiring young athletes.
“The Bahamas are on an impressive trajectory of sports hosting, which now includes the Commonwealth Youth Games with its 1300 athletes and officials from 63 countries across 9 sports. Every Bahamian should be rightly proud of all the work they have done to stage this significant event – and we’re all looking forward to an action and final-packed programme as we head into the closing weekend. The athletes are giving their all with thrilling performances that engage and inspire Bahamas’ local crowds and visiting friends and families”.
17-year old judoka Thomas Lish from England was awarded the first gold of the Games on 18 July after an unbeaten run in the -90kg category against opponents from Australia, Trinidad, Scotland and host nation Bahamas. He said: “It’s my first selection for England at such a level and I’m just proud to be here and proud to come home with a medal for my country”.
With the largest-ever programme for a Commonwealth Youth Games, the Judo competition took place prior to the Opening Ceremony – affording the host nation The Bahamas two bronze medals on day one of competition. D’Arcy Rahming Jr, Bahamas Judo Federation High Performance Director, said:
“Mya Beneby and Karra Hanna have won the first ever medals for the Bahamas at the Commonwealth Youth Games in any sport. The competition was fierce with over 17 countries. We can now declare that at the cadet level Bahamas judo is competitive at the world level.”
England dominated the podium in the Women’s Judo competition. Gold medallists were: -48kg, Sian Bobrowska, (England); -57kg, Leah Kaye Grosvenor (England); -70kg, Holly Bentham (England) and +70kg, Emily Ritchie (Scotland). Gold medallists in the Men’s events were: -60kg Simon Zulu (Zambia); -73kg Soni (India); -90kg, Thomas Lish (England); +90kg, Timothy Hollingberry (Australia).
A firm favourite on the Youth Games programme, the Aquatics competition has been taking place in front of a loud, packed crowd at the Betty Kelly Kenning Aquatics Centre. New Zealand has so far dominated the pool, collecting seven gold medals in both Men’s and Women’s 200m Freestyle (won by Lewis Clareburt and Laticia-Leigh Transom); the 1500m Men’s Freestyle (Zac Reid); both 400m Individual Medleys (Lewis Clareburt and Mya Rasmussen); 50m Men’s Backstroke (Kennard Campbell) and clinching the 4x200m Mixed Relay. Singapore’s Jing Quah and Scotland’s Scott McLay have also impressed, winning two gold medals each for the 50m Butterfly and 100m Freestyle.
Scotland’s Scott McLay said: “It was fantastic to have the support of my team mates and all the people up in the stands, it really does spur you on. This has set me up really well for the rest of the competition, I just want to keep performing at my best and hopefully pick up a few more medals.”
It was a loud and electric first night of athletics competition, delayed by half an hour due to a thunderstorm. The track events got the crowds on their feet, with 100m Women’s Gold going to St Lucia’s Julien Alfred; 1500m Men’s going to John Waweru of Kenya; and 1500m Women’s going to Scotland’s ecstatic Erin Wallace, whose time of 4:16.61 comfortably outperforms the gold medal run of 4:20.80 by Ethiopia’s Lemlem Hailu at the recent IAAF U18 World Championships in Nairobi.
The first Field events also saw impressive performances: with golds for England’s Holly Mills in the Long Jump; Canada’s Trinity Tutti in Shot Put; and New Zealand’s Connor Bell in Discus with 63.17m (beating the previous Samoa 2015 Youth Games medal-winning distance of 60.94m).
The Track and Field events continue until Sunday; as do Tennis and Boxing. The finals of Beach Soccer and Beach Volleyball, in the waterfront stadium constructed specially for the FIFA 2017 Beach Soccer World Cup, take place on Saturday 22 July, with the Cycling Road Race happening the morning after. Tickets are still available and selling fast, starting at just USD$5.
Rugby Sevens draws to a close today (Friday 21 July). Australia play Canada in the Women’s final; whilst England take on former Youth Games hosts Samoa in the Men’s.
The Opening Ceremony launched the event in fun-filled Bahamian style, with Junkanoo dancers and bands and chart-topping local music stars entertaining the young athletes in Caribbean-club style. The Closing Ceremony promises to pick up the party atmosphere and give the finest young Commonwealth athletes a rousing send-off.
With more and more athletes finishing their competition, the final three days also incorporate a cultural festival at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre to bring Caribbean flavours and events to the sports ground. A series of sports leadership workshops delivered in partnership with UNICEF, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Royal Commonwealth Society also provide opportunities for personal development and international friendship.
Organising Committee Chairman Wellington Miller concluded: “We are at the halfway point and I am proud and happy to see The Bahamas and all its volunteers who worked so hard and still working so hard to making this happen and to maintain the high standards required.
"I am also happy to see that spectators are coming out to witness the young people of the Commonwealth of Nations compete in so many sports."