After ‘Super Saturday’ it was ‘Sensational Sunday’ for Team GB at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) in Sydney as the next generation of British Olympians won a record breaking 40 medals in a single day.
Team GB’s young athletes signed off the final day of the sixth edition of the AYOF with 19 gold, 23 silver, 24 bronze medals, bringing Great Britain’s overall total to a final tally of 66 medals, comprising a superb 20 gold, 23 silver, 23 bronze medals.
The history making continued for Team GB on the Twin Creeks golf course where Flag Bearer Georgia Hall (Bournemouth) became Team GB’s first gold medallist in an Olympic golf event for over a hundred years when she won both the individual women’s competition and team gold with compatriots Chloe Williams (Wrexham), Ewan Scott (St. Andrews) and Bradley Neil (Blairgowrie).
Hall, the current European number one and World number four, went into the final day leading by three shots and could barely hold back the tears after her last putt when she realised she had done enough to secure the gold medal.
A relieved Hall said: “It feels amazing to have made history. I enjoyed it a lot and it was a great experience for me. I cried after the last hole because I was just happy it was over to be honest. It was a long week and I just wanted to make sure I won so the pressure was there. My aim all week was to not shoot over par and I did that so I am pleased with my performance on the whole and to get a double gold medal in the individual and the team is fantastic. I think the Rio 2016 Olympic Games is definitely closer for me now, having come to Australia. It gives me a hint of the style of competition and what to expect from everything that comes with it and hopefully I can make it in three years time.”
Williams secured a bronze medal in the women’s individual event after a fantastic fourth round score of 68 and Ashton Turner (Alford) took home the silver in the men’s individual event after having been in a podium position throughout the competition.
Artistic gymnastics might be at an all-time high following the exploits of Louis Smith, Beth Tweddle and co at London 2012, but the future of the sport looks to be in safe hands too if the final day of Australian Youth Olympic Festival action is anything to go by. Between the men’s and women’s teams (pictured) they totalled up an incredible 23 medals on the final day of individual competition.
Fresh from pipping China to team gold at the Sydney Olympic Park State Sport Centre on Friday, Team GB's male quartet of Courtney Tulloch (Maidstone), Dominick Cunningham (Birmingham), Nile Wilson (Pudsey) and James Hall (Maidstone) were back in action Down Under 48 hours later in the individual competitions.
The foursome were clearly hungry for more after their team event success, picking up 15 medals across the seven finals, including five gold medals. Wilson took gold on both the horizontal bar and parallel bars, with Cunningham collecting bronze and silver medals respectively. On the floor Cunningham won gold, ahead of Hall in the silver medal position. Hall won a second silver medal on the pommel horse ahead of Wilson who claimed bronze. Tulloch dominated the rings to win gold as Team GB claimed a clean sweep of medals in this apparatus with Cunningham taking the silver and Wilson bronze. Cunningham added bronze in the vault and took the individual all around silver medal with a score of 83.650, narrowly behind Ruoteng Xiao of China who totalled 84.700.
The star of the show was undoubtedly Cunningham as he claimed six podium finishes. However, despite this success the teenager couldn't help but think his farewell Down Under could have been even better: “Obviously with the amount of medals I won I am very pleased but I am a little bit disappointed because I wanted to do even better in the all-around competition,” he said. “I had a fall on the floor and that is what put me down to silver and I am a bit gutted. But I am pleased with how I came back from the floor fall and my high bar and parallel bar went amazingly so all in all I am very happy.”
Tyesha Mattis (Ilford) was the cream of the crop in the women's artistic gymnastics competition as she claimed all-around gold with a score of 54.832, just ahead of compatriot Teal Grindle (Tring) who took silver with 54.065. Mattis also picked up a gold on the vault and bronze medals in both the uneven bars and floor.
Meanwhile, Grindle claimed beam gold while Amy Tinkler (Bishop Auckland) topped the floor podium and won silver in the vault. "I am so pleased that I won the all around title and it feels amazing to call myself the Youth Olympic Champion," Mattis said. "We all tried our best and I think everyone in the team can be really proud of their efforts as we had really good results. This is a big confidence boost and now hopefully we can do the same at the European Youth Olympic Festival this summer."
Team GB's divers signed off in style with Shanice Lobb (Shipley) and Georgia Ward (Greenford) picking up bronze in the women's 10m platform synchronised competition and Ross Haslam (Sheffield) and Sam Thornton (Shipley) repeating the trick in the men's event.
And 14-year-old Lobb admitted her medal-winning performance had taken even her by surprise:
“Winning the bronze medal in the synchro competition with Georgia was a great way to finish the competition,” she said. “It was the first time we competed together so we are really happy to have won a medal at our first event.”
Over at the Syndey International Regatta Centre Team GB rowers enjoyed more success on the final day of AYOF regatta winning another six medals - one gold, two silvers and three bronze medals.
Beth Bryan (Stockton on Tees), Lucy Burgess (Tarporley), Nicole Lamb (Hexham) and Anastasia Merlott Chitty (London) topped the podium in the women’s four before taking back to the lake to win bronze in the women’s eight. Both the men’s and women’s quads won silver whilst the men’s eight and four took home bronze medals.
Lamb, who was today celebrating her birthday said: “It was a good result –I’ve got a medal in each colour now! The finish was amazing. We could have made it easier for ourselves, but I love races like that. We did it and that’s all that matters. Three medals and it’s my birthday you can’t ask for a better present!”
Team GB’s three freestyle wrestlers were made to wait until the final day of the AYOF to get their competition under way, but they surpassed all expectations to claim two silver and one bronze medals.
Team GB’s only female wrestling competitor Shannon Hawke (Alloa) led the way by winning silver in the 56kg category. She beat three of her four group opponents to progress to the gold medal match where she was overpowered by a very strong Chinese athlete.
George Ramm (Bolton) followed suit with silver in the men’s 63kg event and Brian Harper (Alloa) completed a fantastic day for British wrestling by winning his bronze medal fight in the 54kg category against an opponent from New Zealand. All three athletes now have their sights set on competing for further honours at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Team GB’s men’s hockey team had to settle for silver after they suffered a cruel 5-4 golden goal defeat at the hands of hosts Australia at the Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre today.
The match was a story of two halves as the home side eased into a comfortable 3-0 lead in the first half. But after some strong words from the Team GB coaches at half time the Great Britain side came out with renewed belief and intensity to score four consecutive goals without reply to lead the game 4-3 going into the closing stages.
It was Ross Gilham-Jones (Hythe) who began the comeback with a low, crisp strike into the bottom corner of the goal in the 39th minute. Phil Roper (Cheshire) added a second with a powerful drag flick from a penalty corner in the 48th minute before captain Andy Bull (Bury) stayed cool and calm to convert a penalty stroke in the 57th minute and tie the match at 3-3.
The remarkable turnaround was complete when Sam French (Addingham) scored a sublime penalty corner into the top corner to put Team GB 4-3 ahead in the 64th minute. However with two minutes remaining a mistake in the GB defence presented the stunned Australians with a lifeline and they did not hesitate in taking it to equalise and take the game into extra time. The golden goal arrived with the first real attack of the extra time to break British hearts. For the 300 spectators watching it was a game of great quality, skill and drama.
Team GB goalkeeper Harry Gibson (Loughborough) said: “I’m so proud of all the lads. We didn’t play our best in the first half but we came out and gave it everything in the second half. We fought for everything and dominated the Australians. This performance gives us a lot of confidence and promise for this team for the future. This has been a massive learning curve and we have been soaking everything up.”
Meanwhile Team GB’s women’s hockey team were made to work hard to win the bronze medal at the AYOF as they secured a 2-1 victory only after a golden goal by Hannah Martin (Ipswich) in extra time.
Team GB began the early morning encounter, which began at 8am local time, in sleepy fashion and soon found themselves a goal down in the third minute. However this appeared to jolt Team GB into life as they immediately replied through a close range effort from Martin to level the scores in the fifth minute. Despite Team GB’s 5-0 victory over the same opposition in the group stage, the two teams were very evenly matched today and the scores remained at 1-1 as the whistle blew for the end of normal time.
Team GB stepped up a gear and applied more pressure on the USA defence in extra time and Martin clinched the bronze medal for Great Britain with a scrappy penalty corner golden goal in the final minute of the first half of extra time to trigger scenes of ecstatic celebrations.
Martin said: “It was quite a lucky goal but I’ll take it. The feeling when the ball crossed the line was just incredible. Of course we were hoping to be in the final, but after we overcame that disappointment we focused on winning the bronze and that’s what we achieved so we’re all really happy.”
Team GB’s final badminton players in action at the AYOF were unable to add to the medal tally as Alex Lane (Exmouth) and Chloe Birch (Sheffield) were both beaten by Chinese Taipei players in the men’s and women’s singles bronze medal matches.
Lane pushed his opponent all the way in a three set encounter. He claimed the first game 21-15 but was unable to claim the victory as he went down 14-21, 15-21 in the final two games. Birch also went down fighting by a score line of 21-12, 21-16.
Of the 114 athletes who competed for Team GB at the AYOF, 93 will return from the heat of Sydney to the snow in London with a medal hanging around the neck. It has certainly been another memorable Olympic event for the British Olympic team.