BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- Track and field is an ancient sport, and the rules haven’t changed much. But the Youth Olympic Games are all about innovation, and innovate they did. In Buenos Aires, track and field athletes compete in two stages of competition, and then the two results are added together to determine the medalists.
For some athletes, they left no question as to who would win when the arithmetic was done. But for others, they wait for the podium results was agonizing.
Running Away With The Gold
Grace Stark ran the fastest time for both stages of the women’s 100-meter hurdles. On Tuesday, the first day medals were awarded, Stark pulled ahead of the field to cross the line in 12.83 seconds for her Stage 2 heat. Stark also ran the fastest Stage 1 time in 13.31, so her combined time of 26.14 secured the gold by 26 hundredths of a second.
“It feels great to get first in both races.” Stark said. “I’m not going to lie, it’s a little weird. I knew you had some leeway if you lose, but I never want to go into a race thinking if I lose then I could still win. So, I’m really glad that I got the two first-places and really earned my gold medal.”
Stark’s teammate Athing Mu won silver in the women’s 800 after unleashing a furious kick to catch the lead pack in the her Stage 2 heat and secure second place in that stage. Mu ran 2:05.23 to improve her Stage 1 time by nearly three seconds. Mu’s kick was enough to satisfy her while she awaited the podium results for more than half an hour.
“I knew I had to go,” Mu said. “The last 75 meters I pushed super hard so I could get into second. Honestly, it’s pretty nerve-racking, but I came out here and ran a great race, so even if I’m not on the podium, I’m still satisfied with how I ran today, so either way I’m good.”
But when she found out her cumulative time was enough for the silver, Mu was overjoyed.
“Oh, it feels great to know that I’m actually the silver medalist,” Mu said. “I came out and did my best, and it worked out in the end. You know I can change my Instagram bio and say: Youth Olympic silver medalist.”
Bringing Home Bronze
Nicholas Ramey came into the final race of the men’s 400 with the third-fastest time of 47.60. And running in the fastest heat of the final round, he improved his time to 47.27. Ramey already knew exactly what his competitors had run and where he needed to be to secure his podium finish.
“I just knew I had to compete as hard as I could, so I just did that and ran to the best of my ability,” Ramey said. “I knew I was in third when I crossed the line. It is a great honor to win a medal here, it is probably the most memorable thing that’s ever happened to me in my life. It is a great opportunity to be here, competing against the best athletes in the world and place on the podium.”