Sprint sensation Odane Skeen hopes to follow in
Bolt's medal-winning footsteps.
Jamaican aims high
By Jonathan Wong
The Straits Times
17 August 2010
WHAT Usain Bolt did at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Odane Skeen is keen to emulate at the Youth Olympics Games.
The 15-year-old is the latest sprint sensation to emerge from the same country - Jamaica.
And just as triple-gold medallist Bolt electrified the world two years ago, Odane is hoping that he, too, will make a big impact when the athletics programme begins today at the Bishan Stadium.
'We will definitely be the one to beat,' said the St Catherine native, whose personal best (PB) of 10.46 seconds in the 100m makes him one of the favourites for the title of fastest youth Olympian at the inaugural YOG.
The six-day athletics competition, involving 646 competitors from 170 National Olympic Committees, will offer 36 gold medals, the most at the YOG. But none of the showdowns will be as keenly anticipated as the one for the boys' 100m title.
And in true Bolt fashion, Odane was sure of his own winning pedigree even after it was pointed out that Britain's David Bolarinwa, 16, boasts a faster PB of 10.39sec.
'He did what?' the Jamaican asked. But recovering as quickly as one of his explosive starts, he promised: 'It doesn't change anything, I'm still going to win.'
Added his coach David Riley: 'We expect to win medals and the kids are not going to be intimidated.'
The Jamaicans are also expected to be contenders in the 110m hurdles with Stefan Fennell, 16, displaying plenty of Odane's confidence. 'I've been saving myself for the competition here,' he said.
In the girls' events, Jamaica's medal hopes will ride on the likes of Shericka Jackson, whose 200m PB of 23.62sec is the fastest in the field, and Olivia James in the 400m.
Briton Victoria Ohuruogu, 17, younger sister of 400m Olympic champion Christine, is tipped to shine in the same event, which will also feature Nigeria's Bukola Agobunloko, the event's fastest qualifier.
Said Olivia, whose PB of 53.89sec is sandwiched between Victoria's (54.17sec) and Bukola's (52.49sec): 'There are no favourites. Anybody can win.'
While traditional powerhouses the United States lack any standout performer in the track events, the competition appears more straightforward in the jumps.
Both Swedish pole vaulter Angelica Bengtsson and Italian high jumper Alessia Trost will be looking to add a YOG gold to their impressive resumes, which include victories in the world youth and junior competitions.
Angelica said she is aiming for a new personal best. Her 4.47m best mark is just a centimetre shy of the world junior record.
Leading the Asian challenge will be Japanese sprinter Masaki Nashimoto, last year's 100m Asian Youth Games winner, while compatriot Keisuke Homma will figure prominently in the 200m.
Singapore will be represented by six athletes, including hurdlers Sean Toh (110m) and Goh Wei Ning (100m).
Said Sean: 'It's going to be tough but we're going to try our best.'