On Friday morning, day five of competition at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG), we will see the commencement of the track and field program in Buenos Aires, where 13 Aussies will compete against 179 nations in athletics.
The Youth Olympic Games program is very unique. Athletes compete in heats and all compete in a final, except the events over 1500m which have a straight final and then the competitors compete in a cross country race.
Australia has a great record at the Games, winning four medals at the inaugural Games in Singapore in 2010 and then six in Nanjing in 2014, when we sent a large team of 20 athletes. Two athlete Nick Hough (110m hurdles in 2010) and Jess Thornton (400m in 2014) have been crowned YOG champions.
Late season form for the Australians and internationals is less certain and will ensure surprises galore, but on paper Australia has many strong prospects. Athletes pushing for the podium include Sophie White (100m hurdles), Keely Small (800m) Jamie Hiscock (2000m steeplechase), Josh Cowley (long jump) and Oscar Miers (high jump), but don’t be surprised if others land there.
For Australian Flag Bearer, Keely Small, this is the third occasion in the green and gold in just 15 months.
“I competed in my first international at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas, then it was the Commonwealth Games in April and now here the youth Olympics,” said Small whose athletics journey commenced nearly 10 years ago," Small said.
“I started in little athletics in the under-8s and fell in love with the sport. Then I went through school athletics to nationals. Cross country was my background, then I moved down to the 800m and 1500m.”
She has been in impressive form in the leadup with runs of 2:06 and 2:04 in the Canberra winter.
“I’m feeling in the best form I have for a while, especially at this time of the year it has been difficult to peak. It is at the start of the season and I’m happy with where I’m at.”
Another who is confident with her challenging preparation is Perth hurdler, Sophie White.
“Training has been going really well. Trying to peak in the off athletics season in hurdles is quite hard as we don’t have many competitions going on over west, but I think it is going well and I think I’m where I would like to be at this time,” White said.
Putting on the green and gold uniform has confirmed for White where she is at.
“It kind of ties it all together, about what you are about to do. It sort of bring it home, it’s real, it’s happening. A nice feeling.”
400m hurdler Thomas Throssell is looking forward to more than just competing.
“Two things I have been looking forward too, testing myself on the international stage and meeting some athletes I’ve already messaged in my event - South Africa (Lindukuhle Gora) and Jamaica (Shanthamoi Brown),” Throssell said.
Three athletes, Luke Young (1500m), Jaylah Hancock-Cameron (1500m) and Jamie Hiscock (2000m steeplechase) will have the very unique opportunity to compete in a cross country event after their track event. It is the first time cross country has been held in the Olympics since it was discontinued after the 1924 Games. Hiscock and Hancock-Cameron have in particular been using cross country to prepare for the Youth Olympics.
“Training has been going well. I had the national cross recently and a time trial last week, so I can’t wait really,” Hiscock said.
Following the athletes:
You can watch a live steam of the athletics here: http://olympics.com.au/live-stream
AOC & the Olympic Channel are doing their best to cover the 26 sports Australian’s are in.
David Tarbotton for Athletics Australia