Canterbury’s Juliana Hung and Auckland’s Jimmy Zheng have been selected to represent New Zealand at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.
The selections come off the back of strong international form, with the pair excited at the opportunity to compete against the world’s best young golfers.
The athletes will compete in two divisions at the Games. First up is the men’s and women’s individual championships held from 9 – 11 October. Following this the pair will compete as a team in the mixed event from 13 – 15 October.
Hung continues to grow after becoming the New Zealand Stoke Play champion late last year and is gaining vital international experience in big events.
This year alone the 16-year-old Burnside High School student has competed in the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific in Singapore, Queen Sirikit Cup in Thailand, Toyota Junior Worlds in Japan, and most recently the Junior Open in Scotland at the Home of Golf, St Andrews.
“The travel is one of the best perks of golf but I also love all the different aspects of the game which make it really challenging but fun at the same time,” said Hung.
“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to play at the Youth Olympic Games and meanwhile I’ll be watching the best players play on tour because I want to be like them!”
Above: Hung competing
Zheng is in similar form to that which won him the 2018 South Island Under 19 Championship. The 16-year-old started the final round two shots behind, to then shoot seven-under 66 and win by two.
The Macleans College student recently won the Ryan Moore Junior Championship in America in a breakthrough result against a very strong international field. Zheng followed that success with a 5th place finish at the IMG Academy Junior World and a 4th at the ACDS Junior Championships, all of which are rated as top class junior events.
“I love the competitive atmosphere around golf and also the ability to connect with people from different parts of the world,” said Zheng.
“Seeing the improvements after hours of training is also really rewarding.”
Rio 2016 silver medallist Lydia Ko has sent through a video message wishing the athletes luck as they attempt to replicate her Olympic success.
The 2018 Youth Olympic Games will be the third summer youth Games, following those in Singapore in 2010 and Nanjing in 2014.
The Games are a pre-elite development opportunity for the world's most promising young athletes, allowing them to experience a multi-sport games environment while exposing them to learning and cultural opportunities and helping them on the performance pathway.
NZOC CEO Kereyn Smith passed on her congratulations to the athletes.
“It was fantastic to see Lydia Ko win silver for New Zealand at the Rio Olympic Games and it’s great to have these two athletes are following in her footsteps at a youth level.”
“We’re excited to see Juliana and Jimmy take on the world’s most promising young athletes in October and we wish them all the best with the rest of their preparation.”
The Youth Olympic Games will run from October 6-18th in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The non-travelling reserves for golf are Rose Zheng and Kevin Koong. Buenos Aires 2018 Olympic Summer Youth Games