Paris (AFP) – From a 14-year-old Japanese racing driver to a 17-year-old Russian goalkeeper to an English striker claiming a maiden professional hat-trick at 18, it was a good weekend for teenagers in sport.
Juju Noda – like father, like daughter
— Just 14, Noda has motor racing in her blood after her father Hideki who raced in Formula One and Indy Cars in the 1990s and early 2000s.
On Saturday she took victory from pole position to win the Danish Formula 4 race at Jyllandsringen, in what was the first single-seater race in Europe since the coronavirus lockdown.
Such is the hype surrounding Noda, who only turned 14 in February, that she has already been compared to F1 tyro Max Verstappen.
“I think it is something necessary if you want to be competitive and professional,” Noda told thepitcrewonline.net.
“If you cannot deal with it, that means you are not good enough. To be honest, sometimes it is a bit hard to handle but I always do my best.”
Denis Popov – lets in 10 goals, is man of the match
— Denis Popov was man of the match in Rostov’s loss at Sochi in the Russian Premier League, which might strike some as odd.
After all, he was the goalkeeper buried beneath an avalanche of goals in his team’s 10-1 mauling on the banks of the Black Sea.
But the 17-year-old still won rave reviews for pulling off 15 saves, including one from a penalty.
The Rostov team was made up entirely of teenagers after their senior squad was placed into quarantine due to players testing positive for coronavirus.
Sochi refused to postpone the game leaving Rostov with a squad of two 16-year-olds, 12 who were 17, three at 18 and one 19-year-old.
“First of all — our 17-year-old goalkeeper, Denis Popov, made 15 (!!!) breathtaking saves (including one penalty), which is a Russian Premier League new record! Denis absolutely stole the whole show today and got his well-deserved Man of the Match award,” tweeted a proud Rostov club.
Louie Sibley – a Rams man
— Derby County Academy graduate Louie Sibley grabbed his first professional hat-trick in the 3-2 win against Millwall in the second-tier English Championship, keeping the Rams on course for the play-offs.
“I’m absolutely buzzing. I did well but I just want to keep going, keep playing and to get a hat-trick is unbelievable,” the 18-year-old told the Derby website.
“I don’t think it will sink in. All my family are big Derby fans and they will all be texting me and ringing me but they will all be over the moon.”