— Amelie Morgan and Finn Hawkins ensured Team GB enjoyed its best day yet at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games with both athletes stepping onto the podium.
Morgan’s all-around artistic gymnastics silver and Hawkins’s windsurfing bronze were the first two individual medals won by British athletes in Argentina and means Team GB now have five medals to its name; three silver and two bronze.
Hawkins was first to enjoy success with bronze in the men’s windsurfing Techno 293+ class. The 15-year-old, who was one of the youngest in the field, held a commanding lead over fourth placed Tomer Vardimon coming into today’s race. However, it was the Israeli who put early pressure on Hawkins, turning the top marker in second with the Brit in ninth.
Needing to be within 11 places of his medal rival, Hawkins showed the form he’s displayed all week in the second half of the race and eventually came home in third, emphatically sealing bronze.
Hawkins finished the regatta with 46 points, 10 more than Nicolo Renna of Italy who claimed silver and 10 clear of Vardimon in fourth. Greece’s Alexandros Kalpogiannakis was a dominant gold medallist with just 23 points from his 12 races.
“It feels really good,” said Hawkins about being Team GB’s first individual medallist at Buenos Aires 2018. “I’m sure there are many medals to come but it’s great to be the first.
“The wind was tricky today as it was moving about quite a bit. I didn’t get off to the greatest of starts in the race but I worked my hardest to try and get back into it. It was tricky racing but it ended well.
“I’ve been sailing in more tidal places recently to help me get used to this and that definitely helped this week.
“I’ve been sleeping really well this week and last night was no different. My roommate Clyde [Gembickas, acrobatic gymnast] respects what I’m doing and is really quiet coming in and out of the room when I’m sleeping.
“I imagine my parents were watching [from the supporters’ boat] with their hands over their eyes at points in that race. They’ve supported me so much over the years so it’s great to do it for them today. They know how much it means to me and just want me to do my best.
“I’m looking forward to enjoying the rest of the experience here for a couple of days and watching some other sports. It’d be nice to go and support any of the other Team GB athletes competing.”
Islay Watson finished the women’s event in 11th after a 15th place finish in her final race today. The result ends a frustrating week for the 2018 Junior World Champion.
“It’s been a tough week for me personally in tricky conditions. It’s been a hard place to sail. I’ve tried my best and it’s been a good experience at a different sort of regatta than I’m used to but it’s great for Finn and to see a Team GB windsurfer win a medal.”
A few hours after Hawkins’ triumph it was Morgan’s turn to step onto a Youth Olympic podium as the five-time European junior medallist won silver in the women’s all-around.
The 15-year-old from Portishead sat fourth at the halfway mark in the final, but a poor beam routine from China’s Xijing Tang left the door open for Morgan who delivered consistently good results across the four apparatus – especially a 13.200 on beam after a fall in qualification.
Morgan, who will contest individual finals in all four pieces, eventually finished with 53.432, 0.634 short of Italy’s Giorgia Villa in gold while Anastasiia Bachynska of Ukraine took bronze with 52.332 with Tang outside the medals in fourth.
“I’m over the moon to be stood here in second place at the Youth Olympics,” said Morgan.
“I was definitely a bit more nervous coming into this event knowing that the standard was that much higher than what I’ve competed against before. I just went out there and did the best that I could and it’s paid off.
“After the beam the other day and having a fall it’s definitely more nerve-wracking having to go again because you know you don’t want to make another mistake. As soon as I finished it I felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders.
“I knew at the end if I put in a good routine on floor I’d win the medal but it’s hard because you can’t afford to get too excited because that’s how mistakes happen.
“This is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I’ve still got two more days of finals so hopefully they go according to plan too.”
Away from the medal action today, Javier and Joaquin Bello made it three wins from three in the beach volleyball after a 21-7, 21-10 win over Togo, meaning the twins will top their group and advance straight into Sunday’s round of 16.
Jack Whitaker sits tied 14th in the individual showjumping event after today’s first round of jumps.
Whitaker, onboard LV Chance Luck, clipped the first fence in unfortunate fashion with the horse losing a shoe in the process and the pair recording four penalty points.
Despite 13 other riders going clear, Whitaker – who won mixed team silver on Tuesday – remains upbeat ahead of the final round tomorrow.
“He didn’t touch anything or do anything wrong after the first fence, so he did jump really well after that. You just have to take the good with the bad, but it gives me some confidence going into the final round tomorrow.
“It was a bit frustrating really – it was probably the softest fence on the course, so hitting it is a bit annoying.
“We’ll see what happens – I’m hoping to go out there tomorrow, using the experience and just jump a bit better than today.”
Day six also saw the start of the modern pentathlon and archery competitions with two Team GB athletes featuring in each.
Both Annabel Denton and Toby Price enjoyed good starts in the pentathlon, with Denton tied third after 14 victories and nine defeats in her fencing ranking round while Price lies in the middle of the pack in 13th after 10 victories and 13 defeats.
Denton will conclude her individual event tomorrow with the swimming and laser run events with Price competing again on Sunday. No showjumping disciplines are featuring in the pentathlon at Buenos Aires 2018.
In the archery ranking round, Alyssia Tromans-Ansell qualified 10th with 652 while Dan Thompson qualified in 30th with 630.
Tomorrow’s mixed international team event sees Tromans-Ansell paired with Iran’s 23rd place qualifier Reza Shabani while Thompson is set to partner Son Yeryeong, who qualified fourth.
Finally, there was no medal for Chris Grimley in the badminton mixed international relay as his Team Zeta lost 110-107 to Team Theta in the bronze medal match.
Image credit: Andy J Ryan, Lumix UK/Team GB