BA2018 Revisited: Most memorable moments

As we celebrate the two-year anniversary of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Buenos Aires 2018, looks back at some of the most memorable moments from the Games.

Picture by OIS

Record-breaking start

The YOG Buenos Aires 2018 got off to the best possible start, with the streets of the Argentine capital bursting into life for the Opening Ceremony. A record-breaking 215,000 people flocked to the Avenida 9 de Julio to experience the first-ever Olympic Opening Ceremony to be held in the streets of a city, with the historic Obelisco de Buenos Aires providing a spectacular focal point for the celebrations, as gravity-defying acrobats scaled the famous monument.

Delifina’s emotional tribute

Argentine swimmer Delfina Pignatiello captured the hearts of YOG fans when she burst into tears on the podium and dedicated her 800m silver medal to her grandmother, who had died just a week earlier. With tears streaming down her face, the 18-year-old held up her palm to reveal the word abuela (grandmother) together with a love heart. Pignatiello went on to win a second silver medal, in the 400m freestyle, making her one of the host nation’s stars of the Games.

Gymnastics crowns King Kitazono

Japan’s Takeru Kitazono lit up the men’s artistic gymnastic competitions at the YOG Buenos Aires 2018, winning an incredible five gold medals. The teenage phenomenon – who was quickly hailed as the heir apparent to compatriot and three-time Olympic gold medallist Kohei Uchimura – topped the podium in the all-around, floor, rings, parallel bars and horizontal bar competitions, becoming the first artistic gymnast to achieve such a feat at the YOG.

Olympic spirit on show

American May Tieu demonstrated the Olympic spirit by helping out fencing rival Grace Senyo of Togo, in the women’s foil event. After learning that Senyo had no foils that passed the weapons check, the 17-year-old Tieu selflessly decided to lend her opponent one of her spares. “There are too many times that I had to borrow something, and someone always stepped up to help,” Tieu explained afterwards. “It only made sense and it really didn’t pose a problem in my mind. Fencing is a social sport, and we just like to help each other out.”

Tieu went on to win two bouts against the Togolese, but her coach, US Olympian Greg Massialas, was impressed by her sportsmanship rather than the manner of her victories.

“This was like a Youth Olympics moment,” he said. “This is the kind of thing you see here that maybe you wouldn’t see as much at the Olympic Games.”

Basketball’s new “golden generation” thrill fans

Inspired by Argentina’s legendary “golden generation” of basketball stars who won gold at the Olympic Games Athens 2004, the host nation’s men’s 3x3 team created one of the most memorable moments of the YOG Buenos Aires 2018, as they topped the podium in front of raucous home supporters. Roared on throughout the Games by thousands of fans at the city’s Urban Park, the quartet of Juan Hierrezuelo, Fausto Ruesga, Juan de la Fuente and Marco Giordano clinched gold with a 20-15 win over the previously-unbeaten Belgian team, despite having come close to crashing out at the semi-final stage, when they struggled to deal with the threat of Ukraine’s colossal Ihor Serheiv before securing a dramatic 18-16 overtime victory.

Breaking new ground

In a city synonymous with the tango, it was another form of dancing that entranced Buenos Aires during the YOG, as breaking made a hugely successful Olympic debut. With lively crowds, pumping beats and a dizzying array of windmills, flares and swipes, the host city’s Urban Park was buzzing with energy and excitement as the world’s best young b-boys and b-girls showed off their skills and creativity. In the women’s event, Japan’s b-girl Ram swept through the competition without losing a round, with the 2018 world youth champion eventually securing a 4-0 win over Canada’s b-girl Emma in the final. The men’s event was won by Russia’s b-boy Bumblebee, who eliminated reigning world youth champion b-boy Shigekix of Japan in the semi-final, before impressing the judges with his athletic skills, creativity and musicality to beat France’s b-boy Martin in the final.

Men no match for Manu

Indian sharpshooter Manu Bhaker wasn’t just outshooting her female opponents in Buenos Aires – the men couldn’t match her either. After topping the podium in the women’s 10m air pistol event, Bhaker was back in action in the mixed team event – and duly outscored all her rivals, both male and female, in the qualification round. “I didn’t plan to do anything like that,” she said. “It just happened. “Of course, girls can beat boys. This is not a muscular game where boys will always win. This is more a mental sport. It depends on how we are prepared. It doesn’t matter if you’re a girl or a boy.”

Bhaker and partner Bezhan Fayzullaev, from Tajikistan, eventually won silver in the event, having lost the final to Vanessa Seeger, of Germany, and Kiril Kirov, of Bulgaria.

Shuttlers share epic rally

The men’s badminton semi-final between India's Lakshya Sen and Kodai Naraoka of Japan produced one of the most jaw-dropping moments of the Games, as the shuttlers duelled out a sensational 79-shot rally. The match was finely poised at one set each when the epic rally broke out, with neither player making an error for over 90 seconds, until Naraoka sent a return agonisingly long. After winning the seemingly never-ending rally, Sen went on to claim the deciding set 24-22.

Fifo’s goal-den boots

Portugal’s Ana Sofia Simoes Goncalves, better known as Fifo, lit up the futsal tournament with her incredible goal-scoring talents, finding the back of the net 21 times across six matches. Her impressive feats included scoring all four goals in the gold medal match against Japan and a remarkable double hat-trick in the semi-final, when she fired six goals against Bolivia, including one with a delightful back-heel.