Team USA Closes Out YOG competition with eight total medals

SINGAPORE - Team USA won two gold medals on the track at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games Monday night, bringing the track & field competition to a close with a total of eight medals. Monday evening featured the debut of the mixed medley relays, with the Americas team winning gold in both the girls and boys event.

On the girls' team were Myasia Jacobs (Paterson, N.J.), Robin Reynolds (Miami, Fla.),Tynia Gaither (BAH) and Rashan Brown (BAH). The medley relay format included a 100, 200, 300 and 400 meter leg. Jacobs - who won the silver medal in the 100 meters on Saturday - started things out for the Americas team and handed the baton to Gaither, who in turn passed it to Brown. By the time Reynolds received the baton, the Americas had a slight lead, which she held on to, finishing in 2:05.62. In second place was the Africas team in 2:06.91, followed by Europe in 2:07.59.

Reynolds leaves Singapore with two golds - she also won the girls 400 meters on Saturday. She, along with her teammates, were all smiles after Monday's relay. They all are proponents of including mixed relays in other international events.

The teams started practicing with each other at 6 a.m. Monday, and kept at it throughout the day. On the boys' team, in running order, were Calo Dos Santos (BRA), Odane Skeen (JAM), Najee Glass (Woodbridge, N.J.) and Luguelin Santos (DOM). Glass finished sixth in the 400 meters Saturday, a race that Santos won. But Monday night, they were teammates, competing against star power from other continents. The Americas team won in 1:51.38, followed by Europe in 1:52.11 and Oceania in 1:52.71.

Also competing for Team USA Monday night were Shelby Ashe (Stone Mountain, Ga.) in the hammer throw and Daniel Wong (Tucson, Ariz.) in the boys 2,000 meter steeplechase.

Ashe was a medal favorite after finishing qualifying in third place, but Monday wasn't her night. The rainy conditions were difficult for her, as she's only competed in the hammer throw for one year and is still gaining experience dealing with harsh weather conditions. She fouled on her first and third attempts, but her second throw of 49.16m put her in eighth place. Her best throw during qualifying, 58.01m, would have been good enough for silver Monday night.

Wong, on the other hand, benefited from the rainy conditions, which made the air much cooler for the boys 2,000 meter steeplechase. The pack went out fast, which Wong said helped him reach his personal best time of 5:57.29. He had never previously gone under 6:00.00, and was thrilled with his time. In comparison, he won the Youth Olympic Selection Trials with a time of 6:17.47.

Three U.S. athletes competed on Monday morning. Amber Bryant-Brock (Powder Springs, Ga.) finished sixth in the 400 meter hurdles, Claudia Francis (Laurelton, N.J.) finished 12th in the 1,000 meters, and Reese Watson (Spring, Texas) finished 10th in the pole vault.

On Sunday, Team USA continued to shine on the track and on the field at the Youth Olympic Games, with U.S. athletes winning three more medals. Two of Sunday's medals came from the javelin runway: Hannah Carson (Chandler, Ariz.) won bronze and Devin Bogert (Tomball, Texas) won silver.

Going into today I was really trying to go for a medal, Bogert said. That's why in qualifying I only took my first throw and then I passed the rest because I had a groin injury coming into this meet. I was able to rest it by only taking one throw in qualifying, so I think that really helped out for the final. Everything felt good. My technique was a little off in the beginning, but I stayed focused, and tried to fix it on my last throw.

Bogert was in seventh place headed into his fourth and final throw. He said that right at his release, and then watching the javelin's flight, he knew he had a chance of moving onto the podium. He went from 70.79 (his second throw) to 76.88, moving into second place. Finishing first was Argentina's Braian Toledo with a throw of 81.78.

Carson also won her medal in her last throw. Had she remained at 48.85, her second throw, she would have finished sixth. But she focused her energy and used her momentum to hit 50.64 and clinch the bronze medal.

Rounding out the U.S. medal haul Sunday was Olivia Ekpone (Germantown, Md.), who won bronze in the 200 meters. The 2010 Maryland State High School champion in the 100, 200 and 400, ran her personal best time Sunday. She clocked 23.75, while gold medalist Nkiruka Florence Nwakwe of Nigeria finished in 23.46.

I've learned a lot here, Ekpone said. I'm just going to use this experience, because I'm also training for the 2012 Olympics. This is definitely a preview of what it all is like. So I'm able to take that and hold on to it for the future. I'm just very excited to be here representing the U.S. I worked so hard to get here.

Brandon Sanders (Columbia, S.C.) finished fourth in the 200 meters, just off the medal stand. Sarah Howard (Dublin, Ga.) was seventh in the shot put, and Tyler Sorenson (Lafayette, Calif.) finished 10th in the 10,000 meter race walk.

On Saturday, Robin Reynolds (Miami, Fla.) won gold in the 400 meters, Myasia Jacobs (Paterson, N.J.) won silver in the 100 meters, and Le'Tristan Pledger (Kansas City, Kan.) won bronze in the long jump. More than 500 young athletes from 170 countries are participating in the track & field competition at the Youth Olympic Games.

Reynolds ran a 52.57 in the 400 meters, earning her the gold medal by more than half of a second. I came up on the line with a nervous feeling in me, in my gut, Reynolds said. But I was really confident in myself too. I knew that this is what I was here for, and I knew I could do it. I was feeling good coming into the backstretch, going into the last curve. I still had more in me, so I laid it all out on the track and, boom, gold medal. It was awesome - a very exciting feeling for me.

I was very happy about standing on the podium, she said. I've always pictured what I would feel like, representing my country. I was very emotional. I didn't shed any tears like I thought I would, but they were there. I was overwhelmed with joy. By me winning this gold medal it shows people that I'm a rising female star. I'm here and I'm hungry and this is only the beginning. I plan to be in the 2012 Olympics.

Myasia Jacobs (Paterson, N.J.) won silver in the 100 meters, missing the top of the podium by just 0.06 seconds. She finished in 11.64, while Nigeria's Josephine Omaka took gold with 11.58.

I was hoping to get a gold, but I'm satisfied that I was the second fastest in the whole world, and I made history, Jacobs, 16, said. It was a good experience being on the podium, looking at everyone in the stands, watching our flag go up. It means a lot to me. I feel like I'm a real Olympian. It's the best experience I've ever had in my life.

Long jumper Le'Tristan Pledger (Kansas City, Kan.) completed the medal haul for Team USA Saturday, winning bronze with a jump of 6.17 meters. She beat the fourth place finisher of Estonia by just 0.02 meters. Germany's Lena Malkus won the event with a jump of 6.40 meters.

In all, Team USA athletes won eight medals on the track and on the field at the Youth Olympic Games, three gold, two silver and three bronze.

TEAM USA YOG TRACK & FIELD MEDALS

· Robin Reynolds (Miami, Fla.), 400 meters, gold

· Robin Reynolds & Myasia Jacobs, mixed medley relay, gold

· Najee Glass (Woodbridge, N.J.), mixed medley relay, gold

· Myasia Jacobs (Paterson, N.J.), 100 meters, silver

· Devin Bogert (Tomball, Texas), javelin, silver

· Olivia Ekpone (Germantown, Md.), 200 meters, bronze

· Le'Tristan Pledger (Kansas City, Kan.), long jump,bronze

· Hannah Carson (Chandler, Ariz.), javelin, bronz