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The first-ever Youth Olympic Games kicked off this week at Kallang Field in Singapore, where the International Olympic Committee has met its goal of gathering approximately 3,600 of the world's most promising 14-18 year-old athletes in pursuit of "a return to the origin of the Olympic Games spirit." According to FITA, "the Cultural and Sportive dimension of the Games [are] important as well as the image of Fair-Play."
Miranda Leek (Des Moines, Iowa) and Benjamin Chu (Flural Park, N.Y.), competed yesterday in qualification and mixed team rounds, and today in the 1/32 elimination, where both young athletes faced stiff competition.
The qualification event, held Wednesday morning, consisted of a 72-arrow ranking round shot at 70 meters, mirroring the ranking round conducted at the Olympic Games. Leek shot a 550 overall, qualified 27th in the Junior Women's Individual division. Leading the group were Ye Ji Kwak (KOR), qualifying first with a 670, Ya-Ting Tan (TPE) in second, shooting a 648, and Tatiana Segina (RUS), scoring a 639 to place third.
Chu, shooting consistently throughout the morning, finished in 25th with his score of 577. Taking the top spot in the Junior Men's Individual group was Rick van den Oever (NED), who hit a 653 for the day; he was followed closely by Min Beom Park (KOR), with a 651, and Mark Nesbitt (GBR), who rounded out the top three, shooting a 638.
Both archers participated in Mixed Team Rounds on Wednesday; teams were mixed by gender and country. Leek was paired with Atanu Das (IND), and the teammates were ranked 24th following qualification.; they faced the team of Maud Custers (NED) and Vasil Shahnazaryan (ARM), which qualified 9th. Leek and Nas came back from a 0-4 deficit to tie the match at 4-4; they were ultimately defeated in the fifth set, retiring with a 6-4 score.
Chu was matched with Lidia Sichenikova (UKR) for the Mixed Team event; the 14th-ranked team faced the pair of Brina Boznic (SLO) and Benjamin Nott (AUS). Their match lasted five sets, resulting in a tie breaker in which each teammate shot one arrow; the team of Chu and Sichenikova retired after losing the shoot-off by one point.
Olympic Round competition began on Thursday morning with the 1/16th elimination in both men's and women's divisions. Leek won her first match, defeating sixth-ranked Farida Tukebayeva (KAZ) in five sets. Throughout the week, rainy weather conditions presented a challenge for the archers. "The ranking round was really rough," explained Leek following her first Olympic Round match. "Fortunately, I managed to pull myself up by the boot straps with the help of Coach Dee (Falks) and my dad, and I got my shot back and won my OR match." With her 6-4 victory, Leek advances to the 1/8 round, where she will compete against Isabel Viehmeier (GER) on Friday.
Chu faced Tsukishi Koiwa (JPN) in his first match, in which Chu won the second and third sets. Koiwa, who qualified eighth, ultimately advanced after coming back to win the final two sets; he will face Benjamin Nott in Friday's 1/8 elimination rounds.
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