Future is GOLDEN as young Brits win 24 medals at 2023 European Youth Olympic Festival

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Thirty-nine young Brits across five sports (artistic gymnastics, judo, mountain bike, road cycling, swimming) have been in action in a six-day multi-sport event in Slovenia.

After a very successful week, the young Brits came away with 24 medals from the Maribor 2023 European Youth Olympic Festival winning golds in four of the five sports. British golds were achieved in gymnastics, judo, cycling and swimming.

Swimming took centre stage on the Monday as competition started with Team GB’s young athletes making their mark on the international stage with multiple PBs, final qualification, and even a British Age Group Record. 

Amelie Blocksidge just missed out on a medal in the women’s 400 IM, while returning athlete Evan Davidson also couldn’t secure a place on the podium in the men’s 400M freestyle despite getting a new PB of 4:02.04. 

Phoebe Cooper, Coco Coxford, Filip Nowacki (PB), Dean Fearn (PB) and Martyna Karabacz all qualified for the next round in the women’s 100m freestyle, men’s 200m breaststroke, women’s 200m butterfly, men’s 100m backstroke, and women’s 200m backstroke respectively – with Fearn securing a new British Age Group Record of 56:46.

Despite torrential weather, Tuesday was a great day for Team GB. Eight medals; one gold, five silver, and two bronze across road cycling, artistic gymnastics and swimming, encapsulated a flurry of high-level performances across the board. 

The story of the day came from the gymnastics hall as Team GB picked up a triple medal haul in the all-around competition. The men’s trio of Jonas Rushworth, Alex Niscoveanu and Sol Scott beat off tough competition to win team all-around gold in impressive fashion, while Rushworth and Niscoveanu made that achievement even better when they picked up silver and bronze in the individual part of the event.

The medals kept coming as we got into the latter stages of the day as the swimming team did not disappoint. Filip Nowacki claimed the spotlight by not only winning silver, but also picking up a British Age Record in the 200m breaststroke.

Also at the pool, Amelie Blockdsidge (400m freestyle), Coco Croxford (200m butterfly), and the 4x100m medley relay team of Jacob Mills, Evan Davidson, Theodora Taylor, Phoebe Cooper and Hollie Wilson secured two further silvers, as well as, one bronze for Team GB.

After a short weather-induced delay, the cycling time trial also got underway at Maribor airport. Flagebearer Erin Boothman won silver in the women’s event, while her teammates Abi Miller and Arabella Blackburn came 17th and 26th respectively. Then, the boys followed that up with a series of top performances to secure three top-11 finishes in a field of 90.

Inspired by the boys on Tuesday, Team GB’s gymnasts Ema Kandalova, Jemima Taylor and Ellie Lewis made Wednesday their own when they put in a remarkable performance to claim a bronze medal in the women’s all-around event.

Despite a few falls, the team were able to put together a fantastic set of rotations and secured an impressive third spot – which was led by the brilliance of Kandalova, who set a personal best and won an individual all-around bronze as well.

Across Maribor, at the swim centre, Davidson built on his success from the day before, and managed to claim his first-ever individual medal at a European Youth Olympic Festival in the 200m individual medley – an achievement that brought the young athlete to tears while on the podium. 

Team GB were then once again successful in a relay when Theodora Taylor, Mabli Collyer, Hollie Wilson and Phoebe Cooper teamed up in the 4x100m freestyle relay to win a silver medal.

On day four of competition, it was cycling’s time in the limelight as Max Hinds produced a magnificent ride to hold a clear lead for 50km to become European Youth Olympic champion in men’s road race. 

After teammate Rory Gravelle suffered a mechanical issue early on, it became clear that Team GB’s male cyclists would have to employ plan B or C, and Hinds did perfectly. He broke away at the 10km mark and took a huge 30 second lead before even getting to the end of lap one. He then not only avoided being caught, but was also able to extend that lead even more until he crossed the finish line – an achievement that earned much praise from competitors and public spectators alike.

Swimming continued their hot form with eight PBs, a Scottish Junior Record, and most notably, another two medals. 

Hollie Wilson, who has repeatedly impressed throughout the week, secured a silver medal in an astonishingly tight 200m freestyle final, and then teamed up with the rest of the 4x100m mixed medley squad – Dean Fearn, Josh Inglis and Phoebe Cooper – to win another relay bronze.

In an amazing constant flow throughout the day, personal bests came for Martyna Karabacz, Inglis, Filip Nowacki, Charles Simpson, Theodora Taylor (x2), Jacob Mills, and Fearn, who also secured a Scottish Junior Record in the 200m men’s backstroke competition. 

We were once again competing in artistic gymnastics, but this time it was the mixed pair event as the duo of Ema Kandalova and Alex Niscoveanu attempted to take on Europe’s best once more. 

After a series of different apparatus, the pair finished the day in eighth position.

On the penultimate day of competition, Team GB’s judokas secured their first medal of the Games as Julia Marczak won an incredible gold in the women’s -70kg event.

Marczak, the 16-year-old fourth seed, dominated the competition from start to finish, and defeated her opponent Anna Oliinyk-Korniiko of Ukraine in the opening 45 seconds to secure her status as European Youth Olympic champion.

And the good news didn’t stop there. Back at the swimming pool, the medals came thick and fast, with Team GB picking up seven in total over the course of the evening session. 

It all started with the ever-impressive Amelie Blocksidge, who stormed to not only a gold medal, but also the European Youth Olympic Record (08:32.65) in the women’s 800m free. 

Gold medals also followed for Josh Inglis and Phoebe Cooper in the 100m backstroke and 200m individual medley respectively. 

The day then got even better when Theodora Taylor put in two astonishing swims as she picked up two medals – a gold and silver – in the women’s 50m free and women’s 100m breaststroke.

Both our men’s and women’s 4x100m medley relay squads closed the week out in style, with both teams winning a silver apiece, meaning a grand total of five relay medals were won at Maribor 2023. 

In the women’s event, Theodora Taylor, Gabi Freeman, Phoebe Cooper, Hollie Wilson and Mabli Collyer (heat) narrowly missed out on gold, touching the side an agonising 0.41 seconds behind their German counterparts. 

While, Charles Simpson, Dean Fearn, Jacob Mills, Josh Inglis, Evan Davidson (heat) and Filip Nowacki (heat) also swam superbly, but had to settle for silver, with Italy taking the crown.

As the weekend commenced, Team GB’s gymnasts had the chance to close out the competition at Maribor 2023 in style. Jemima Taylor and Jonas Rushworth competed across multiple individual apparatus (vault, floor exercises and parallel bars respectively), but it was Sol Scott who claimed the last medal of the Festival.

The 16-year-old from Huntingdon shone bright while competing in the vault. A little wobble upon landing on his first effort showed his nerves, but the young gymnast perfected his second run and scored 14.033 to finish third and win a bronze medal. 

Despite positive performances, Rushworth and Taylor both fell just short of what was needed for a podium place, with Taylor the closest – only 0.33 off the bronze in the floor exercises.

Team GB finished the Maribor 2023 European Youth Olympic Festival with 24 medals in total, placing seventh in the overall medal standings.


With thanks to Team GB for allowing us to republish their Sportsbeat write-up.

For all the news from Team GB go to www.teamgb.com.


GB MEDALS:

Artistic Gymnastics 

Men’s All-Around:

  • GOLD – Team
  • SILVER – Jonas Rushworth
  • BRONZE – Alex Niscoveanu

Women’s All-Around:

  • BRONZE – Team
  • BRONZE – Ema Kandalova

Men’s Vault: 

  • BRONZE – Sol Scott

Judo

Women’s

  • GOLD – Julia Marczak (Women’s -70kg) 

Road Cycling

Women’s Time Trial:

  • SILVER – Erin Boothman 

Men’s Road Race:

  • GOLD – Max Hinds 

SWIMMING

  • SILVER – Jacob Mills, Evan Davidson, Theodora Taylor, Phoebe Cooper & Hollie Wilson – 4x100m Mixed Relay
  • SILVER – Amelie Blocksidge – Women’s 400m Freestyle
  • SILVER – Filip Nowacki – Women’s 200m Breaststroke
  • BRONZE – Coco Croxford – Women’s 200m Butterfly

Day Three:

  • SILVER – Mabli Collyer, Theodora Taylor, Hollie Wilson & Phoebe Cooper – 4x100m Freestyle Relay
  • BRONZE – Men’s 200m Medley

Day Four:

  • SILVER – Hollie Wilson – Women’s 200m Freestyle
  • BRONZE – Dean Fearn, Josh Inglis, Phoebe Cooper & Hollie Wilson – Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay

Day Five:

  • GOLD – Amelie Blocksidge – Women’s 800m Freestyle
  • GOLD – Josh Inglis – Men’s 100m Breaststroke 
  • GOLD – Phoebe Cooper – Women’s 200m Individual Medley
  • GOLD – Theodora Taylor – Women’s 50m Freestyle
  • SILVER – Theodora Taylor – Women’s 100m Breaststroke
  • SILVER – Dean Fearn, Josh Inglis, Charles Simpson, Jacob Mills, Evan Davidson and Filip Nowacki – Men’s 4X100m Medley Relay
  • SILVER – Gabi Freeman, Theodora Taylor, Phoebe Cooper, Hollie Wilson and Mabli Collyer – Women’s 4X100m Medley Relay

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