SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, January 12. IF Kyle Bubolz thought anchoring the United States' gold-medal winning 400 free relay yesterday was "better than a trip to Disneyland," imagine how he feels today after winning an individual gold in the 50 free.
The 16-year-old Waukesha Express swimmer scored his first individual victory of the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in today's concluding session, winning over teammate Matt Grevers by a 23.30-23.51 margin.
Bubolz had already collected an individual bronze in the 100 free and silver in the 100 fly, so today's win gives him a full complement of medals — not to mention a pair of relay golds in the 400 freestyle and 400 medley.
Grevers was no slouch when it came to collecting golden hardware either. He won a pair of individual races (100 free-back), led off the victorious USA 400 free relay and anchored the winning medley quartet.
But nobody could match the success of Western Australia’s fastest rising sporting star, Travis Nederpelt, who tonight capped off an amazing Youth Olympics Festival swimming program by grabbing his seventh gold medal from the seven events he contested in the pool.
Nederpelt swam to a Youth Olympic record seven victories in the 400, 800 and 1500 meter freestyles, the 200 and 400 individual medleys, the 200 butterfly and as a member of the 4×200 freestyle relay team.
It was his brilliant, come-from-behind victory in the 200 IM by the 17-year-old from Noranda that enabled Nederpelt to claim his sixth gold of the meet. After touching at the halfway mark in seventh, he powered home in his more favored back half to clock an impressive personal best of 2:04.73. He missed the Aussie 17-years age-group record — held by Olympic medalist Matthew Dunn — by just .49.
Queenslander Leith Brodie kept the Australian dominance continuing by stroking to the silver (2:05.58) and 18-year-old American Ian Clark — 200 back champ — finished third.
Nederpelt capped his Spitzian-like performance off with his seventh and final gold-medal swim, a gutsy 1500 freestyle performance. The race saw him battle the final against Japan’s Takehiro Miyajima, and Nederpelt looked to be feeling the effects of a monstrous program early on. But once again, he built his race speed up to clock a personal-best 15:23.94.
On the victory podium, he gave his usual "V" sign and then asked jokingly: "Where's [Grant] Hackett?" referring to the Aussies' world record-holder and Olympic/World Champion in the 1500 free.
Nederpelt thus enters into the record books as the most successful athlete in Youth Olympic history. Japan’s, Miyajima (15:37.48) took silver with Western Australian Matthew Glucina (15:40.71) taking bronze.
* * * * *
For Nederpelt, the jokes have already begun to flow from his fellow Australian teammates, who have aptly nicknamed him ‘Mini Mark’ after the performance of American Mark Spitz at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games –where he won a record-shattering seven gold medals.
“Everyone has started calling me, ‘Mini Mark’ after Mark Spitz but I am just happy to have won all my races and achieve what no one at the Youth Olympics has ever achieved before,” the lanky Nederpelt said afterwards.
Australian Youth coach Leigh Neugent said he was proud of his entire team’s performance at the Youth Olympics but described the racing and results of Nederpelt as some of the best he has witnessed.
“It was a great performance by all members of the Australian team but especially Travis, who has shown an incredible amount of success and diversity at this meet, and should be a name to lok out for in the very near future,” Nugent said.
* * * * *
In other races on the final day of competition, some superb performances were swum with "passion and pride," to use the words of one local television analyst.
The Aussies' 18-year-old Belinda Wilson, herself a Sydney native, smashed the Australian Youth Olympic Festival record in the women’s 800 freestyle and stroked to the gold with her pr 8:40.32. It was Wilson's second triumph of the competition as she had won the 400 free a day earlier. Canadian Brittany Reimer swam a great race from lane one to grab the silver medal (8:41.03) with 16-year-old Whitney Hentzen of the United States rounding out the podium placing’s in 8:45.43.
Australia’s newest Madame Btterfly, Jessicah Schipper, who set Festival records en rotue to golds in the 100 (59.95) and 200 (2:11.98) flys, was seventh in 8:58.54.
Australia's women continued their dominance as Western Australian Lara Carroll set a Youth Olympic record withher pr 2:18.00 for the 200 IM.. Teammate Charnelle Crossingham, 400 IM champ and also second in the 200 fly opening day, won her third medak and second silver (2:19.59) as she outtouched Canadian Michelle Landry (2:19.67).
The golds continued coming for the pumped-up Australian team with Brisbane 16-year-old Marieke Guehrer — 100 free champ — adding the 50 title in a Youth Olympic record and pr 26.24. Countrywoman Melissa Mitchel, 15, raced home a close second (26.26) with Canadian Jennifer Porenta third (26.71).
On the men's side, Victoria's Rory Comerford got on the board via a win the 200 breaststroke, where he tied with Canadian Scott Dickens. Both swimmers clocked 2:18.42, with the Aussie dropping his best by more than three seconds. America's James Kibbe rounded out the podium placing in 2:18.97.
Japan came to the forefront in the women’s 200 breaststroke as the pairing of Nanaka Tamura (2:32.78) and Megumi Taneda (2:34.78) splashed to gold and silver with solid performances. American 15-year-old, Hailey De Golia took the bronze in 2:36.76. Taneda was also runner-up in the 100 breast while De Golia was fifth.
The women's 400 medley relay saw Australia score its seventh gold. The team of Nicole Seah, Schipper, Lauren Collins and Guehrer raced to victory in 4:16.20, just outtouching the Japanese ‘B’ team, who stopped the clock at 4:16.53. The United States won the bronze in 4:17.82.
In the Youth Olympic Festival's final event, the men’s 400 medley relay, it was the United States (3:46.92) claiming the gold ahead of Canada (3:49.50). Australia took home the bronze in 3:50.87.
Considering it ws the middle of winter for the United States and American swimmers hadn't swum long course in six months, it was a very creditable showing, according to USA head coach Ray Mitchell.
"We're very pleased with the way we raced and with our overall performance. Our kids got in the pool and took care of business. It was a great experience and I'm sure it will be beneficial for our swimmers in their future careers.
"Now…if we can only get Travis to defect.!"
FINAL MEDAL TABLE
Gold Silver Bronze Total
AUS 18 9 2 29
USA 7 8 16 31
JPN 5 5 1 11
CAN 3 11 7 21
NZL 1 1 3 5