2018 Youth Olympics: Three medals for U.S. preps

by Jim Spier

Day 4 in Buenos Aires

Photos by Joy Kamani

Stark wins 100H Gold, Mu takes 800m Silver, Ramey claims 400m bronze

It was a full day of action for most of the U.S. team – five of the seven members, to be exact – as the competition moved to “Stage Two” and medals were awarded for each of the events that had been previously contested on Day 1.

Grace Stark (Lakeland, White Lake, MI) had the best day, winning the gold medal in the 100m hurdles (30’) in a windy (+2.8) 12.83.  That would have been the national high school record for that hurdle height had the wind been legal (Alexis Duncan of De Soto, TX ran a legal 12.95 in 2015 for the record).  So that is the fastest under any conditions for that event by a U.S. prep and #3 in world history, trailing only Jamaica’s Britany Anderson 12.72w and France’s Cyréna Samba-Mayela 12.80w from last year’s World Youth Champs in Nairobi. 

Grace is the 2018 New Balance Nationals 100m hurdle champion. In fact, it’s interesting to note that the other U.S. prep who won a 100m hurdle global title this year – IAAF World U20 champ Tia Jones – is a 2-time NBNO 100H champ herself (2015, 2017) and was the only athlete who could keep Stark from an NBN hurdle sweep this year: Jones nipped Stark in the NBNI 60H final back in March by less than .01!


Athing Mu (Central, Trenton, NJ) came very close to getting the gold, but had to settle for the silver.  She is coached by the 2018 NBNO Coach of the Year, Al Jennings, and won both indoor and outdoor (2:04.51 PR) NBN titles this past season.  In this race, she got caught in a box at about 400m, about a second back from the leader who had clocked 64.57 for one lap.  At that point, Athing started to fade slightly.  At 500 meters, she began to pick up the pace – but a trio of runners, led by the eventual champion Keely Small (Australia), was 50 meters ahead.  Athing began to sprint and, accelerating down the home stretch, passed all but Small. 

If the race was 810 meters she would have won (or if she started her kick 10 meters earlier).  Nonetheless, Athing’s 2:05.23 clocking was impressive, especially since it’s four months after she won NBNO in a similar time.  And I guess her splits at 66-59.

The wear and tear of trying to peak again and again over an 8-month period began to show for both of our 400m runners, Nicholas Ramey (Brookwood, Snellville, GA) and Meghan Hunter (Provo, UT).  Nick was with the leaders for the most of his race, but ran out of steam with about 15 meters to go.  His 47.27 was good enough for bronze and certainly a great performance at this time of the year.

Meghan was in a similar situation, having run her 52.59 PR on April 28, one of 10 sub-54 times she ran between March 31 and June 17.  Meghan managed 56.08 here, good enough for 9th out of 25 competitors.  She and a Brazilian girl were the only athletes from the Americas in the top 9. 


Charles McBride (Apex, NC) has had better days and finished 11th out of 15 on this day, jumping 6-08.  He finished 9th overall when considering his first day results (In all events the prelim and final results are added together to get overall results.  It is a bit strange to score a track and field meet this way and why they do it is inexplicable). Charles and 400m runners Nick and Meghan were all members of Team NSAF (and champions) during our Caribbean Scholastic meet in the Bahamas this past June.

Chivalry is Not Dead

The busses transporting all accredited staff and athletes to the venues seem to be getting more crowded each day.  One is lucky just to get on a bus at all, much less expect to get a seat.

Yesterday, returning from the track, I was lucky enough to get a seat.  There were two Egyptian officials – one male and one female, both in their early thirties – sitting across from me and dozens of people standing in the aisles.  The female said something to the male in Arabic and she started to get up.  He stopped her and he got out his seat instead.  He immediately guided a 70-ish Australian woman to the seat he had occupied.  I was really impressed by that.

Today, in a similar situation on the way to the track, what appeared to be a Kenyan athlete offered Joy Kamani his seat.  And an Argentinian volunteer offered me hers.

Finally, tonight, on the way back from the track, the bus was overflowing.  In fact, four people were standing in the well near the front door (that certainly wouldn’t be allowed in the U.S.).  Two Russian gymnastic officials jumped up and gave both Joy Kamani and an English female IOC delegate their seats.  Maybe the world isn’t coming to an end.


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