Zhang Mengyao wins China its 2nd consecutive Youth Olympic Champion title
China’s Zhang Mengyao beat Elia Canales of Spain, 6-2, in the girls’ gold medal match at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires to become the second consecutive Chinese athlete to hold the Youth Olympic title.
Li Jiaman was the previous winner when the Games were held in Nanjing, China in 2014.
“I’m very happy. I was a bit nervous. I have previous experience from big competitions so I have my way to calm down. Step by step I’m gaining more experience for this kind of moments and to be more relaxed,” said Zhang, who visited Li before the Games to quiz her on the Youth Olympics.
“She shared her experience, her story with me and this helped me here.”
Seeded top after qualification with a score of 675 out of a possible 720 points for the 72-arrow 60-metre ranking round, Zhang was the most consistent archer of the elimination rounds.
She averaged 28 points each three-arrow set and only surrendered a single set point through her first three matches.
Her semifinal with Korea’s Son Yeryeong went five sets, with Zhang winning the last two to recover from a 4-2 deficit and take the match, 6-4. She then took advantage of wide sevens from Canales in the second and fourth sets of the final to take gold, 6-2.
“I don’t think much. I just do the best I can. If I lose I don’t get sad but if I win, I get happy,” said Zhang.
Canales is Spain’s second medallist at these Youth Olympic Games after Jose Manuel Solera won gold in the mixed team event partnered with Kyla Touraine-Helias of France.
“I never expected to get this far. I thought I was going to make it to the second round but not further,” said Canales.
“Even if I was fourth, I would still be happy. You just win by being here, this is what the whole experience is about.”
Son Yeryeong beat Mexico’s Valentina Vazquez in the bronze medal match. Both shot a pair of 28s and a 27 to tie at 3-3 after three sets.
Vazquez couldn’t hold the pace, closing with sets of 23 and 25, and the Korean archer won the match, 7-3.
“I’m really happy with this medal. At the beginning I was losing, I was very tense and my body position wasn’t good, but as the match advanced, I relaxed a bit more and shot better,” said Son.
“I was thinking the whole time that I was capable of winning. That mental strength helped me take the medal.”
The third edition of the Youth Olympic Games takes place on 12-17 October 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.