Published Friday 18 January 2013

New Zealand's team of 156 junior athletes at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney had another competitor to battle against today - the heat.

The hottest day on record since 1939, which peaked at 45.8 degrees just before 3pm, saw many events suspended, post-phoned or cancelled.

In the three-on-three basketball at Darling Harbour, play had to be suspended after the temperature of the court rose to between 76-80 degrees.

Despite the sweltering conditions our athletes still managed to produce a number of medals, including track cyclists Jeremy Presbury (17, Invercargill) and Callum Saunders (17, Blenheim) winning gold and silver respectively in the men's Keirin event.

In swimming, Bradley Ashby (17, Hamilton) won silver in the 400m Individual Medley, in weightlifting, Stewart Bruerton (19, Amberley) collected silver in the men's 77kg competition, and in shooting, Amy Van Bysterveldt (19, Morrinsville) picked up bronze in the Women's Skeet 75.

Meanwhile, finals in the kayak YOG (Youth Olympic Games) sprint event had to be abandoned altogether in the extreme conditions, with gold medals instead awarded to both finalists, including New Zealand's Lucy Johnson (18, Christchurch). It's Johnson's fourth AYOF medal.

Bronze medals were also awarded to both Kim Thompson (17, Gisborne) and Kurtis Imrie (16, Wellington) after their races for third and fourth were also abandoned.

Meanwhile, New Zealand flag bearer for the festival, 18-year-old Waikato triathlete Mikayla Nielsen finished strongly, making up for lost time in the swim by recording the fastest run split in the field.

Chef de Mission Chris Arthur said our young athletes' coped exceptionally well under the conditions. "I was really impressed with how professionally our athletes dealt with the sweltering heat, keeping their cool and recognising that it was out of their hands.

"It's disappointing some events had to be cancelled but the health of our athletes is our top priority."