The second day of track and field competition at the East Asian Games in Macau Stadium witnessed an expected win for China’s Olympic 110m Hurdles hero, Liu Xiang, and the retirement of another of their Olympic stars, Wang Liping, the Sydney 2000 race walking winner.
Composed Xiang feels at home
Liu Xiang, the joint-holder of the World record for the 110m Hurdles, who following his Olympic success in Athens was forced to settle for World Championship silver in Helsinki this summer, completed a busy year with a Games record win in 13.21 (-0.9m/s wind) today. His Chinese compatriot Shi Dongpeng finished second in 13.36, which was also way inside the old Games’ record (13.42). Japan’s Kota Kumamoto took bronze with a personal best (PB) of 13.89.
“I was very composed psychologically,” confirmed Xiang. “I knew how I should run the race, how fast I should run…all I had to do was run solidly and win the race… I dared not lose because Shi was a threat to me.”
Xiang’s time beat the expectations of his coach Sun Haiping, who predicted he would clock 13.30 to 13.50.
Dongpeng was the first away but the race was called back for a false start, and on the re-run Xiang stayed relaxed and took an easy win, even though he felt quite “exhausted physically and mentally.”
“My results were very consistent (in 2005). Even though I didn't break 13 seconds, every result shows that my training is very methodical,” confirmed the Olympic champion, who plans to compete in the World Indoor Championships, World Cup and Asian Games next year.
Full of praise for Macau
Liu Xiang was full of praise for the Games’ organisers. “It is not easy for a Special Administrative Region (like Macau) to host such a grand event. The people here have invested a lot to stage this event and China has assigned many top athletes to come here and show support.” There were smiles all round when he added, “this is my third visit to Macau. For me I feel like it's coming home, because we are all Chinese and the people here are so friendly and enthusiastic.”
Games records in Seven events
The 110m Hurdles was one of seven events in Macau on the second day of the athletics schedule, which had their Games record revised. The other disciplines to see old marks replaced were the men’s 20km Race Walk (1:23:51), and in the women‘s division, the 800m (2:00.11), 400m Hurdles (55.33), Pole Vault (4.30m), Discus Throw (64.32m) and Javelin Throw (61.95m).
Japan and Korea dent Chinese dominance
In total there were 15 gold medals at stake on Wednesday (2 Nov), and Japan who had denied China the 10,000m gold on the first day, took three of the victories, thanks to Shinji Takahira in the men’s 200m (20.88), Koike Takayuki in the men’s 400m Hurdles (50.85) and Kumiko Ikeda in the women's Long Jump (6.54m).
Korea also celebrated with two titles, with victories for Kim Kun-Woo in the Decathlon with 7754 points, and Lee Jae-Hun who took the men’s 800m in 1:48.60.
Wang Liping retires
However, the remaining 10 gold medals on Day Two went to China. Aside from the men’s 110m Hurdles event, the other headline story of the day was provided by China’s 2000 Olympic champion Wang Liping who announced her retirement after winning the women’s 20km Race Walk.
The Sydney champion, who had made a rapid return to the top of the sport in 2004 following a break to start a family, won in Macau in a time of 1:34:31, and stated that she was lacking energy after focusing her season on last month’s National Games in Nanjing, China.
“It might be my last race, and I will retire after the Games,” said the 29-year-old mother who has a three-year-old daughter. “I feel exhausted. I was not in good form, today. It was a grueling race, but I am happy I survived.”
China showed great depth in women's athletics, as its entrants finished 1-2 in five events.
Xiaoxiao holds off younger generation but Gao is not so lucky
In one of the most eagerly awaited duels of the Games, Huang Xiaoxiao, who finished fifth in the World Championships in Helsinki in August, won the women's 400m Hurdles with a Games’ record time of 55.33. Her performance comprehensively saw off a rising star of Chinese athletics, 18-year-old Wang Xing, who took silver in 56.54. Xing had set a World Junior record of 54.40** at the National Games last month when even closer on Xiaoxiao’s heels.
There was much interest in a similar battle in the women’s Pole Vault. All eyes were on the highly experienced Gao Shuying, who recently won the Asian Championships with a 4.53 Asian record clearance which followed on from her fifth place finish at the World Championships, and her younger team mate Zhao Yingying. At the Chinese National Games in Nanjing, Zhao had upset Gao. So the question was: Would Gao come back hungrier than ever or would Zhao be more motivated to win again and perhaps even break the Asian junior record (4.50m) which she equalled in Nanjing? In the end, youth prevailed and Zhao won with her clearance of 4.40m, a Games record. Gao (4.30m) took the silver, while Japan’s Nishikori Ikukowon (4.30m) won the bronze. Both minor medallists also topped the old Games best (4.20).
Records in Discus and Javelin too
China's Song Aimin, who has been in consistent form this season, set a new Games record of 64.32m in the women’s Discus Throw to win the gold medal. Her performance here was better than the 63.40m she threw when she finished third in the Chinese National Games, behind Liu Qiumei (64.89m) and Huang Qun (64.53m). Second today was China's Ma Shuli with 60.13m.
In the other throws final of the day, Ma Ning and Xue Juan took a one-two in the women's Javelin Throw. The Chinese duo both broke the Games record, with the former grabbing the title with 61.95.
Another Chinese Chen Lisha took the women’s 200m title in 23.78. This result put a stop to 100m winner Qin Wangping’s quest to win both the sprint events here, something she did at the National Games where she was also a member of the victorious 4x100m relay team.
In the women’s 800m, Liu Qing, a student at China's prestigious Tsinghua University matched the feat of her schoolmate Hu Kai, the men’s 100m winner yesterday, by taking gold in a Games record of 2:00.11. Yang Wei, also from China, was second in 2:04.57, and Ayako Jinnouchi of Japan third in 2:05.45.
28 year-old Yu Chaohong won the men's 20km Race Walk title in 1:23:51. South Korea's Shin Ilyong came second in 1:24:44, and Japanese Takayuki Tanii was third in 1:25:51.
In men's High Jump, Huang Haiqiang cleared 2.23m to earn China its third gold in the men's events for the day.
Chua Chong Jin, Agencies and Chris Turner for the IAAF
1. Shinji Takahira (JPN) 20.88 sec
2. Yang Yaozu (CHN) 21.34
3. Seo Min-suk (KOR) 21.42
1. Lee Jae-hun (KOR) 1:48.60
2. Chen Fupin (TPE) 1:49.74
3. Masaharu Nakano (JPN) 1:50.10
1. Liu Xiang (CHN) 13.21
2. Shi Dongpeng (CHN) 13.36
3. Kota Kumamoto (JPN) 13.89
1. Koike Takayuki (JPN) 50.85
2. Zhang Shibao (CHN) 51.04
3. Susumu Saito (JPN) 52.05
20km Race Walk
1. Yu Chaohong (CHN) 1:23:51
2. Shin Il-yong (KOR) 1:24:44
3. Takayuki Tanii (JPN) 1:25:51
1. Huang Haiqiang (CHN) 2.23m
2. Naoyuki Daigo (JPN) 2.23
3. Zhang Shufeng (CHN) 2.20
1. Kim Kun-woo (KOR) 7754
2. Yu Bin (CHN) 7531
3. Hsiao Szu-pin (TPE) 7383
1. Chen Lisha (CHN) 23.78
2. Rina Fujimaki (JPN) 24.58
3. Wan Kinyee (HKG) 24.7
1. Liu Qing (CHN) 2:00.11
2. Yang Wei (CHN) 2:04.57
3. Ayako Jinnouchi (JPN) 2:05.45
1. Huang Xiaoxiao (CHN) 55.33
2. Wang Xing (CHN) 56.54
3. Satomi Kubokura (CHN) 57.38
20km Race Walk
1. Wang Liping (CHN) 1:34:01
2. Kim Mi-jeong (KOR) 1:34:31
3. Sachiko Konishi (JPN) 1:35:10
1. Kumiko Ikeda (JPN) 6.54
2. Jung Soo-nok (KOR) 6.31
3. Zhang Yuan (CHN) 6.12
1. Song Aimin (CHN) 64.32
2. Ma Shuli (CHN) 60.13
3. Yuka Murofushi (JPN) 54.28
1. Zhao Yingying (CHN) 4.40
2. Gao Shuying (CHN) 4.30
3. Ikuko Nishikori (JPN) 4.30
1. Ma Ning (CHN) 61.95
2. Xue Juan (CHN) 61.42
3. Misa Nakano (JPN) 53.37