Teen athletes at Nanjing games eye graduation to big stage at Rio in 2016

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 August, 2014, 11:13pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 August, 2014, 11:13pm


Thousands of young athletes are converging in Nanjing for the second Youth Olympics, with many hoping to build towards a place at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

More than 3,700 competitors, aged 15 to 18, are expected to participate in the tournament, which will start with a glittering opening ceremony on Saturday.

Hong Kong have a squad of 18 athletes, with swimmer Siobhan Haughey, the reigning 100m freestyle world junior champion, and table tennis prodigy Doo Hoi-kem, the world number one in the under-18 rankings, among the medal favourites.

Alex Lee Cheuk-yiu, the world junior number 10 in badminton, and foil fencer Choi Chun-yin, the first Asian to qualify for his event, are also medal hopefuls.

Golf and rugby will make their long-awaited return to the Olympic fold, after gaps of 110 and 90 years respectively, in a 28-sport schedule that mirrors the roster in place for 2016.

Among those who won medals in the first Youth Olympics, in Singapore in 2010, are swimmers Chad Le Clos and Emma McKeon, and Chinese diver Qiu Bo.

That inaugural event was marred by scenes of empty seats at stadiums despite fans being told tickets were sold out, resulting in bizarre queues outside half-empty venues.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to attend the opening ceremony of the Youth Olympics in Nanjing.