South African Luke Davids has the world at his feet after winning the 100m gold medal at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.
The 17-year-old charged home in a wind-assisted 10.15sec to join Akani Simbine as a major 100m champion for 2018 after Simbine led Team SA home 1-2 at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year.
Davids had crossed the finish line in 10.56 in the first stage and in the second stage he lowered his time to 10.15 for a combined 20.71, the only athlete to have a combined tally under 21 seconds.
‘The feeling of being the fastest young man in the world and being No 1 is amazing,’ Davids said. ‘I’ve been dreaming of this moment for months now. The spectators were incredible. The support they give you on the track, in the warmup and at all times is sensational. People from Argentina seem as if they were from South Africa because of their kindness and, for that reason, I felt at home.’
One thing that Davids does not feel at home with, however, is being compared to Usain Bolt, three-time Olympic champion in the 100m.
‘I am very different,’ Davids said. ‘He is not me and I am not him. We have different personalities. I try to focus on my goal and what I have to do. I do not think much about comparing myself to him.’
Davids was flanked on the podium by Nigeria’s Alaba Olukunle Akintola, who came second in the race, and Japan’s Seiryo Ikeda, who was third.
Davids’ victory in the second stage can’t go down as a personal best as there was a strong following wind of 3.4m/s, which is stronger than the permitted 2.0m/s tailwind.
Jason Tito had set a personal best of 7.59m in the stage one long jump competition, to be a medal candidate, but failed to register a distance in the second stage.
However, Dane Roets added a 17.34m effort in the second stage to add to her stage one distance of 17.30m to win the bronze medal and take South Africa’s tally to five with one day of competition left. In Nanjing in 2014, Team SA earned one gold medal.
Commenting on her performance Roets said, ‘The experience was amazing. After being third place in the first stage, I had confidence and here in the second phase, I only threw my third place in shot after my first throw.
‘So it was a bit stressful, as the girl I was competing with for the third place still had to throw after me. I only knew I came third after she had thrown and saw that her throw wasn’t further than mine.’
‘Being on the podium is amazing, although I was competing against older competitors but I’m glad I won bronze. Age is just a number,’ Roets added.
Athletics coach, Eben Vermaas commented on Roets performance, ‘It was a tough competition, we expected resistance especially from Germany and all other European nations so we knew it was going to be hard. There was always an expectancy of a medal from Dane, even though she is 16-years-old, in her training sessions she threw 18m, so we knew there was a possibility to medal. But obviously there was stiff competition.
‘However, its important to be focused because you don’t know what will happen on the day of competition,’ Vermaas said.
In the rugby sevens, South Africa lost for the second time in the week to Japan, this time 28-5, in the bronze medal match. Gold went to Argentina who beat France 24-14 in the final to end the championship undefeated. The victory also doubled as long-awaited revenge on the defeat they suffered at the hands of the French during the Nanjing 2014 final.
Photo: Luke Davids celebrates after winning gold. By Amilcar Orfali/Getty Images