Australians Grace Kim and Karl Vilips have won the first and second gold medals for their country at the 2018 Youth Olympics in dramatic circumstances in Buenos Aires.
The weather turned for the worse in Argentina and the young guns stormed ahead on the final day, the duo eventually building on their overnight leads to make it an Aussie clean sweep.
Kim was all tied up with Alessia Nobilio with 18 holes remaining, but a final round 1-over 71 was enough to hold off the Italian and win gold at 1-over par for the week.
After two bogeys in a nervous opening four holes, Sydney’s Kim made birdies on 5, 11 and 16 on her way to a three-stroke victory.
“That was amazing, I’m blown away! It’s so special to win an Olympic medal,” Kim said.
“All the Aussie athletes have been trying their hardest, and I’m so happy to be able to win a gold for our Team, it’s something so special and I’ll cherish it forever.
“Down the stretch I was pretty nervous, but I just tried to stay in the present and be calm, it really helped me.
“I woke up this morning from a dream that I had won the gold, and I was so nervous I couldn’t get back to sleep. I was as nervous as I was on the 18th hole.”
After opening rounds of 69 and 68, Vilips entered the final day with a one-stroke buffer over the 32-strong field at The Hurlingham Club.
A birdie at the 2nd was erased with three dropped shots soon after, but Vilips rallied with four birdies in the final six holes in an incredible charge at the gold medal.
But Vilips’ run all started with a monster bogey putt at the 11th, the 17-year-old holing a 45-footer after going OB.
American Akshay Bhatia played the final 7 holes in 3-over par, Vilips roaring past his opponent on his way to a 1-under 69 and a two-stroke win.
“To be able to win the first gold medals for Australia is incredible, I can’t describe it,” Vilips said.
“I doubted myself on hole 11, even hole 12, I was about four back with not long to play. But then everything started going my way. That long bogey save on 11 gave me confidence and I just started making putt after putt.
“It’s so cool to be up on that dais, to be on the highest level, I’ve only ever seen this on TV and to be able to do it myself, I know it’s something not many people get to experience.”
The pair can celebrate their victories with a rest day in Argentina, before beginning their assault on another gold medal in the 72-hole teams event starting the following day.
(Images courtesy of Olympic Information Sevices)