Chinese athletes concluded their quest for the places on the Osaka World Championships team on Sunday in Suzhou. The last day offered several good results and mainly junior athletes were in good form – quite usual in China.
Li lowers Asian Steeplechase standard to 9:32.35
The first event of the morning competition offered the best race of the day. In the women’s 3000m Steeplechase 21-year-old Inner Mongolia athlete Li Zhenzhu and Zhu Yanmei, 20, from Shaanxi, were determined to get a special result right from the start. The pair, who also were one-two at the National Grand Prix Final last September when Li set an national record 9:48.63, were together the whole race all the way to the finish line with Li winning with an Asian record of 9:32.35, bettering Minori Hayakari’s (JPN) previous record of 9:41.21 from the 2005 Helsinki World Championships by almost nine seconds. Zhu Yanmei, running only her third career steeplechase final race lost by the narrowest possible margin, 0.01 seconds setting a big personal best 9:32.36, also her first ever sub-10 minute race. Li’s Asian record also erased the previous Chinese record which 19-year-old Jin Yuan set in California last Sunday (9:48.33).
20-year-old Lin Xiangqian, the clear number one in China right now, won the men’s 3000m Steeplechase race in 8:42.73, a season’s best. Last year Lin was sixth at the World Junior Championships in Beijing and set a personal best 8:29.78 winning the National Championships in August.
Huang, still a junior, leaps 2.30
Another high standard result came in the men’s High Jump. 2006 World Junior Champion Huang Haiqiang, with a 2.32m personal best in that competition, won the men’s High Jump with season’s best 2.30m adding a huge 20cm to his previous best this season. Huang, who has been struggling with injury ever since the Beijing World Junior Champs final, also won the 2005 World Youth Championships. 19-year-old Zhejiang athlete is still a junior and his 2.30m is a clear World junior leader. Kane Brigg (AUS) and Oleksandr Nartov (UKR) have jumped 2.23m this season.
In the men’s javelin 24-year-old Qin Qiang became the fourth Chinese to throw his javelin over the 80m line. Qin, from Shandong, was a very promising junior setting a junior best 78.11m in 2003 winning the national junior championships with that result. It took him more than three years to better that mark, he won the 2006 National Grand Prix Final with a 78.15m PB and had thrown 76.15m earlier this season.
In the men’s Triple Jump Gu Junjie won the event with a season’s best 17.11m into a strong headwind. Difficult wind conditions made the competition hard; all other top names had to leave disappointed with no place on the Osaka team. Wu Bo was second with 16.72m and Zhu Shujing third at only 16.22m. One of the favourites, Li Yanxi, had to settle for sixth place with a 15.94m jump. Li however, has jumped 16.75m earlier this season and does have the A-standard from last season (17.12m) and could get himself to the World Championships team despite not doing well today.
In the last throwing events Wu Tao won the men’s Discus Throw with a 59.56m throw and 19-year-old Chang Chunfeng added another 60m throw within one week winning the competition with 60.88m result. Just six days before Chang had won the City Games Trials with a personal best 61.61m and is easily the best junior in the world right now.
Juniors were good in the javelin today, four top places went to athletes under 20 years of age. Li Lingwei was second with 57.88m season’s best which gives her the second spot on the 2007 world junior list and Fu Lin set a personal best 56.48m for third place. Song Dan, fourth today with a 53.91m throw, will be among the favourites at the World Youth Championships in Ostrava, she has thrown 56.48m earlier this season.
Chinese athletes will have two more domestic chances to achieve World Championships qualifiers. The action continues with a National Grand Prix in Wuhan 6-8 July and the National Championships in Shijiazhuang 2-5 August.
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF