China wins 5 golds at Youth Olympics, closes the gap on Russia in standings
SINGAPORE – Bai Anqi helped China earn five gold medals Tuesday at the Youth Olympics, winning the 200-meter backstroke for her second medal of the games.
Bai won one of the five golds that China claimed in swimming, weightlifting and fencing.
Russia, which won three golds and one silver on Tuesday, leads the medals table with 15 overall, including seven gold. China is next with 14 medals overall, including nine gold.
The United States has only one gold medal so far, with for silver in girl's swimming, boy's wrestling and boy's fencing.
Bai overtook Kaitlyn Jones from the United States just before the final turn of the 200 backstroke and held on for victory in 2 minutes, 11.46 seconds.
Jones, who won the 200 individual medley on Sunday, faded on the final lap but was able to hold off a late push by Daryna Zevina of the Ukraine to win silver.
Meanwhile, Liberian swimmers Sima Weah and Mika-Jah Teah managed an unusual first. Competing in the 50 freestyle heat, both acknowledged this was the first time they had raced in a pool. Until now, they had trained in a river near the capital Monrovia, forced to dodge crabs and kismet fish.
They finished 24 seconds behind the fastest qualifiers, but coach Steven Weah said he was happy they had traveled to the games to compete.
"I am proud of them because this is their first appearance in international competition," he told the Youth Olympics news service, adding there are no pools for them to train in Liberia.
Princess Stephanie of Monaco, who is in Singapore to support her daughter in the 3-meter springboard competition, said the appearance of countries like Liberia is one of the benefits of this Youth Olympics.
"I think it is a very good idea because it gives kids the chance to have an Olympics," she told the news service. "Some of these small countries won't make it (to the main Olympic Games) because the qualifying is so hard. They can say that they were in the Olympic Games."
Watching 16-year-old daughter Pauline Ducruet train Tuesday, Stephanie said she was playing the role of a "good old mum."
Ducruet started diving four years ago and her dream is to compete at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Her great-grandfather, John Kelly, won three Olympic gold medals in rowing for the United States in the 1920s and her uncle, Prince Albert, was a member of Monaco's bobsled team in five Olympic Winter Games. He is president of the Monaco Olympic Committee.
"I guess we have the Olympics in our blood," Stephanie said.
Russia and the former Soviet republics continued their dominance on the wrestling mat, winning three of five golds up for grabs on Tuesday.
Russia's Alkdar Balzhinimaev easily beat Iran's Mehran Shekhi 4-0, while Azamatbi Pshnatlov of Russia shut out Bakhodar Kadirover of Tajikstan 4-0.