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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

YOUTH GAMES DIARY: Juniors Burn Rubber on Race Course




Not one of the competitors in the multi-discipline car racing event Wednesday morning held a driver's license. But in the three hours that they swerved, skidded and burned up their tire rubber, the 12 junior teams didn't have a single crash.


Organizers had cleared the trailers from the square behind Grandfather Durov's Wonderland and arranged for the giraffes to be walked elsewhere as the young drivers demonstrated their skills. The only hiccup occurred during the obstacle race when the St. Petersburg team's Zhiguli broke down.


In the first event, Tula steamed into first place by answering 20 questions about cars in the quickest time. Then Stavropol beat Kursk by two seconds in the slalom to grab the gold in the World Youth Games.


"I feel proud to hold up the gold medal for my city," said Murat Laipanov, 14, whose favorite subject is geography.


The youngest driver was Andrei Sokolov from Saratov, who is 10. Sokolov didn't win any of the events, but he beat his personal record. "My instructor was so pleased, he gave me an ice cream," he said.


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On Wednesday afternoon, Italian Ennio Falsoni, president of the World Association of Kick-Boxing Organizations, opened the Games tournament in the Soviet Wings Sports Center. "These children are the future of the sport," he told the tiny audience.


Invented in America in the mid-'70s, kick boxing has its roots in karate, tae kwon do, kung fu and traditional boxing. Falsoni said he was working to get it accepted as an Olympic sport.


Backstage, teenagers from Macedonia to Lebanon wrapped their hands in cloth binding and pulled on their helmets in preparation for the competition. A formidable duo from Kyrgyzstan, who looked like extras from a Bruce Lee film, lined up to buy cheese sandwiches in the foyer.


"My brother's already told you, we don't have any change," Suleiman Nevaza, 11, told the woman behind the counter. "So you'd better start looking."


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Meanwhile on Teatralnaya Ploshchad, a disconsolate man with a red face was encouraging a team of 4-year-olds to build faster. "We'll never beat the record unless you work a little harder," he persisted.


The record in question is the tallest tower made entirely out of Lego bricks. The record they must beat is 24.39 meters, set by Australian children in Sydney earlier this year.


But spectators were unconvinced that the tower would be completed in time for the closing of the Games on Sunday.


"Our children might be winning medals in every sport from synchronized swimming to handball," said pensioner Vera Ivashova. "But building four walls and putting a roof on the top seems to be completely beyond them."