A golden double for Switzerland on the track and a clean sweep of the medals for Japan in the half marathons were just two of many highlights on the penultimate day of action at the at the 2019 FISU Summer Universiade in Naples, Italy.
The team relays capped off a week of athletics action at the San Paolo stadium which saw the first gold medal of the evening go to the Swiss quartet of Salomé Kora, Sarah Atcho, Ajla Del Ponte and Samantha Dagry. Switzerland’s women were the defending champions with only Kora and Del Ponte were returning athletes from Taipei 2017, and they successfully defended their title fending off a late charge from Australia’s Celeste Mucci and clocking 43.73 for gold. Australia finished a close second with 43.97 and New Zealand registered a personal best for the team, with 44.24.
The second Swiss gold came in the men’s 5000 metres in which all 15 runners held their nerve and patience until there were just two laps to go. The fancied Belgian Robin Hendrix held the lead at that stage, but was closely followed by Frenchman Yann Schrub. However a thrilling last lap saw Switzerland’s Jonas Raess charge ahead and got into a duel for gold with Schrub. In the end Raess held on to take gold, a mere 14 hundredths of a second faster than Schrub who took silver, with Hendrix having to settle for bronze.
The men’s 4 x 100 relay was surprisingly dominated by Asia, with Japan, China and Korea winning gold, silver and bronze.
Mexico pulled off a stunning victory in the men’s 4 x 400 relay, a race that rounded off the track action at Napoli 2019. With South Africa leading at the start and Poland and Japan coming into the mix by the second leg, it was left to Valente Mendoza Falcon, the individual 400m champion, to lead Mexico’s charge to the finish line. South Africa finished with silver and Poland beat Japan to bronze.
Australian Matthew Denny led the men’s discus throw from beginning to end to take gold. The accomplished discus and hammer thrower, who has competed at the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2018 Commonwealth Games, went straight into the lead with 63.89 on his first attempt. He followed it up with consistent throws and steady improvement, getting to 63.90 and then 65.27 in his fifth round that sealed gold. However his first throw proved good enough for gold, with Alin-Alexandru Firfirica of Romania winning silver with 63.74 and Henning Prufer of Germany taking bronze with 63.52.
Earlier in the morning, Japan had swept of all the medals on offer in the men’s and women’s half marathons. Akira Aizawa took gold in the men’s event, coming in 12 seconds ahead of compatriot Taisei Nakamura in second for silver, with Tatsuhiko Ito taking bronze. Yuka Suzuki took gold in the women’s event, ahead of Rika Kaseda and Yuki Tagawa in silver and bronze positions respectively.
There was further joy for Japan at the Stadio Arechi as they clinched the Summer Universiade men’s football title, beating Brazil 4-1. Striker Ayase Ueda was the star of the show as he grabbed a second half hat-trick to sink the Brazilians, with captain Reo Hatate also on the scoresheet for the champions.
Japan went into the final in fine form, having won both group games by a three goal margin, before beating South Korea 2-0 in their quarter-final. They did, however, draw 3-3 with Italy in a thrilling semi-final, but went on to win the game 5-4 on penalties. Brazil, however, edged past Russia 2-1 in the semi-finals after beating Ukraine by the same result in the quarter-finals. They picked up one win and one draw in their group, but secured qualification to the latter stages of the tournament thanks to their superior goal difference.
In the final, Japan should have been ahead early on after missing several key chances, but the teams went in at half-time with the game goalless. The deadlock was finally broken however on 55 minutes as Brazil defender Ramon Rezende tripped Japan’s Kaoru Mitoma inside the box. And it was a double blow for Brazil as number nine Ueda scored the resulting penalty, with Rezende sent off for a second yellow card. Japan used their man advantage well, and Ueda added his second soon after. Hatate then got himself on the scoresheet five minutes later as he scored his third goal of the tournament.
Eduardo Luiz pulled one back for the depleted Brazilians, but any hopes of a late comeback were soon quashed as Ueda slotted in his third of the night, and his fifth in the competition.
Stadio Arechi also hosted the men’s bronze final earlier in the evening and saw Italy overcame Russia 4-3 on penalties after a feisty 2-2 draw.
The results bring an end to a hugely competitive football tournament with DPR Korea having beaten Japan 2-1 in Friday night’s women’s final at Stadio Ciro Vigorito.
Ekaterina Selezneva of Russia came one win away from a clean sweep of the individual events as she dominated the final day of the rhythmic gymnastics competition on Saturday
In front of a near-capacity crowd at Palavesuvio, the 24-year-old triumphed in ball, hoop and ribbon, while adding bronze in clubs, coming a day after being crowned individual all-around champion.
In individual action, Selezneva proved too much for her rivals in ball, hoop and ribbon, posting winning scores of 21.550, 21.200 and 20.450, respectively. Her only mistake of the afternoon came in the third apparatus, when she dropped a club midway through her routine.
The other individual gold medal awarded on Saturday went to Ukraine’s Yeva Meleshchuk, who prevailed in clubs and also had third-place finishes in hoop and ribbon.At only 18 years of age, Meleshchuk dazzled the audience and impressed the judges in the clubs final as she merited a score of 21.050. Zohra Aghamirova of Azerbaijan was placed second with 20.200 points. Rounding out the individual podiums were Julia Evchik of Belarus (19.150) and Estonia’s Viktoria Bogdanova (18.850) in ball; Evchik (20.350) and Meleshchuk (20.150) in hoop; and Italy’s own Alessia Russo (18.700) and Meleshchuk (18.700) in ribbon.
In the group competition, the Russian team of Alina Alieva, Elina Baruzdina, Marina Kozlova, Valeriia Rusina and Angelina Shkatova completed its sweep of the three events with victories in five balls and in three hoops + four clubs, after taking the all-around title on Friday.
Russia was the last country to win all three group finals at the same FISU Games, back in 2013 and this time around in group action they were simply in a class of their own with scores of 25.075 in 5 balls and 25.650 in 3 hoops + 4 clubs. In both events, Ukraine took silver (22.900 / 24.450) and Japan claimed bronze (21.650 / 21.150).
In archery, the Recurve team and individual finals were held on Saturday at the beautiful Caserta Palace, an 18th-century former royal residence, and a further gold medal for Korea ensured they finished on top of the medal table with four gold, two silver and two bronze medals.
The Koreans won the women’s recurve team event to complete their superiority of the tournament with Russia and Ukraine following in silver and bronze.
In the men’s recurve team competition, Russia beat Chinese Taipei to win gold, whilst the latter triumphed in the mixed team event, beating Japan 5-3 for the last gold medal of team competition.
Iran and Chinese Taipei won the last two Taekwondo gold medals on offer at the Summer Universiade with victories in the men’s and women’s team Kyorugi events. South Korea crashed out in the quarter-finals in the men’s competition and had to make do with second place in the women’s, but still finished top of the sport’s medal table with seven golds, three silvers and two bronzes.
Iran claimed their fifth Taekwondo gold of the Games, thumping Egypt 33-6 in the men’s team Kyorugi event, with the bronze medals going to Malaysia and Chinese Taipei. The women’s final was much closer, with Chinese Taipei edging South Korea 19-17. Defeated semi-finalists Poland and the United States got the bronze medals.
Nine days of the tennis culminated with the finals in men’s and women’s singles and the gold medal match of mixed pairs. Naho Sato from Japan became the gold medallist in women’s single after beating Great Britain’s Emily Frances Alice Arbuthnott in straight sets 6-4, 6-4.Chun-Hsin Tseng from Chinese Taipei took the gold medal in men’s singles after losing the first set to Khumoyun Sultanov from Uzbekistan but recovering to win 6-7, 6-3, 6-1. Yana Sizikova and Ivan Gakhov of Russia won a tie-breaker and took gold in the mixed doubles event.
In the women’s water polo, Krisztina Garda struck three times as Hungary beat Italy 8-7 to win the gold medal. Earlier on Saturday, Russia thrashed Canada 22-7 to claim the bronze medal.
Italy still have a chance of a water polo gold as their men face the USA in the last final of the 30th Summer Universiade on Sunday.