August 18 - It has frequently been said that the aim of the Asian Youth Games is to introduce young athletes to the requirements of elite sport and this point could not have been underlined better than during a women's squash semi-final where mental rather than physical weaknesses were brutally exposed.
In a clash between two Hong Kong players in Uen Shan Choi and Pansy Pui Hei Chan, Choi was dominating the first two games before suffering what was effectively a frustration-induced collapse which saw her succumb to an eventual 3-2 defeat.
After a succession of let calls had not gone her way in the third game Choi complained and shouted repeatedly in anger as her game visibly deteriorated, while her opponent's remained ice cool as Chan ended on top despite seeming both technically and physically inferior.
In a one-on-one and immensely tactical sport like squash there is no room for mental fragility but Choi has now taken one step on this Youth Games journey of progress and maturity which was enforced so powerfully in the Opening Ceremony on Friday (August 16).
The quote "make sure your worst enemy doesn't live between your own two ears" was never more relevant, and parallels can be drawn with the British tennis player Andy Murray who was famously prone to such volatility before he overcame this hurdle to win two grand slam titles.
As Chan progresses to face Vanessa Raj Gnanasigamani of Malaysia in the final the great thing is that the Youth Games have provided Choi with this opportunity to learn so early on in what her technique and shot-making suggests could be a great career.
If she wanted to look elsewhere for inspiration there would be no better place than next door in the Natatorium where Chinese divers proved their mental as well as their physical brilliance by finishing in first and second place in two events.
Yi Shen won the women's three metre springboard competition ahead of teammate Weiiie Wang, before Qi Yue led home Jiajie Zeng to ensure similar dominance in the men's platform event.
With the latter event somewhat unusually taking place over three different platform levels, the final two dives performed by Qi received the loudest cheers of the day as it delighted a crowd becoming more partisan by the day.
They certainly had plenty to cheer as home athletes also swept the opening day of shooting action as Zichao He won the women's 10 metre air rifle and Yufei Chi matched this achievement in the skeet.
North Korea also continued their good form with gold for Jina Kim in the women's 52 kilograms judo, while South Korea enjoyed a similar success in the men's under 66kg category courtesy of Jaekyoung Ko.
Elsewhere, Thailand and Hong Kong topped their respective pools after two days of men's rugby qualifying action while Japan did likewise in the sole women's group.
The rugby is due to conclude tomorrow with the medal rounds on a day when swimming and athletics also get underway in Nanjing.
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