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Guangzhou, ChinaThe Chinese were unrelenting in their push towards the top of the standings on the second day of the 18th Asian Athletics Championships at the Olympic Stadium in Guangzhou on Wednesday (11).
The host nation won half of the dozen gold medals at stake, at least three of them against expectations and to the chagrin of the Japanese.
They were the men’s 100m title, which went to Chinese Zhang Peimeng, who had the measure of pre-race favourite Naoki Tsukahara; the men’s 400m in which Liu Xiaosheng beat Yuzo Kanemaru, the overwhelming favourite; and the men’s Pole Vault gold won by Chinese Liu Feliang against Japanese Daichi Sawano.
The Japanese were clearly the favourites to win all the sprints, but ended up with just the women’s 100m and 400m. In contrast, the Chinese made sure that they had the gold medals in their forte, the women’s 100m Hurdles (Sun Yawei) and women’s Hammer Throw (Zhang Wenxiu) and claimed a bonus one in the women’s 1500m (Zhou Haiyan) apart from the surprise in the sprints.
Zhang Peimeng takes surprise 100m crown
The surprise elimination of Masashi Eriguchi yesterday from the men’s 100m had left the field open for the Chinese along with the other Japanese, Tsukahara. For reasons yet unknown, China has not entered all its best here, holding back some of the toppers of the season or winners at the National Games in Jinan.
Thus, neither Lu Bin, the winner at Jinan nor Su Bingtian, the national champion, made it to the Chinese team. Twenty-two-year-old Zhang Peimeng’s fame till now has been his second-place finish at Jinan last month. Today he crowned himself as the Asian champion.
In a championships where the sprinters had clocked below-par timings for two days, Peimeng’s 10.28 seconds for the gold was not bad. Tsukahara was beaten over the last 25 metres, the Japanese making up somewhat in the middle stage for a slow start after one false start put everyone on alert. Chinese Guo Fan took the bronze in 10.37s.
Fukushima dominats women’s 100m
Japanese Chisato Fukushima who had clocked 11.29 in the semifinals in the morning session once again destroyed the field in the women’s 100m final. The rest were left battling it out for the minor medals as Fukushima powered through for a 11.27s finish, the second best time in Asia this season behind her own National record of 11.24s clocked at Tottori, Japan, in June.
Second-placed Vu Thi Huong of Vietnam timed 11.50 seconds while India’s H.M. Jyothi took the bronze in a personal best 11.60s. It was India’s first women’s sprint medal in nine years.
Winds hamper middle distances
On a windy day, the middle distance events proved slow affairs, with Saudi Arabian Mohammed Othman Shahween retaining the men’s 1500m gold in 3:46.08 and Chinese Zhou Haiyan claiming the women’s metric mile in 4:32.74, the slowest winning time ever in the championships.
The wait-kick-and-finish routine pushed two Chinese into the medals bracket, with Liu Fang taking the silver. Vietnamese Truong Thanh Hang who won the silver last time had to be content with the bronze on this occasion.
Bahraini Mini Belete finishing outside the podium was a surprise. She is second in the Asian lists this season behind team-mate and World champion Maryam Yusuf Jamal.
Shahween did not have anyone to challenge him through the final 150 metres of the men’s metric mile. The surprise, however, was provided by Sri Lankan Armyman Chaminda Wijekoon, who took his country’s first ever medal in the event.
Kazakhstan’s Olga Rypakova, the recent Asian Games Indoor champion, lived up to her pre-meet billing by winning the women’s triple jump crown, with an effort of 14.53m. She opened with that mark and had subsequently two other efforts of over 14 metres.
Only Chinese Xu Tingting (14.11m) who took the silver crossed the 14.00m barrier among the rest of the contestants.
Chinese Zhang Wenxiu, the season leader and Asian record holder effortlessly won the women’s Hammer Throw, hurling to a distance of 72.07m. “I caught a cold after the National Games and I was in ordinary condition. I didn’t have proper training since,” said Zhang, the World and Olympic bronze medallist, who had a winning throw of 74.25m in Jinan.
Liu Xiaosheng and Tanno take 400m titles
Kanemaru’s defeat against Liu Xiaosheng in the 400m was a bigger surprise than Tsukahara taking the silver in the 100m. Liu Xiaosheng was in the lead by the 200-metre mark, but once into the finishing straight, the Japanese showed his power.
Kanemaru seemed to have sewn up the race, but Liu Xiaosheng had other ideas. He caught up with the Japanese and passed him through the final few strides. The timings were nothing to speak of, 46.55s for Liu Xiaosheng and 46.60 for Kanemaru.
Asami Tanno at last has an Asian title in the 400m. She had taken the silver last time and the bronze before that. The Japanese proved to strong over the last 15 metres when Chinese Chen Lin was engaged in a close battle with Indian Manjeet Kaur.
Both were pushed behind by Tanno whose late surge did not, however, bring respectability to the timings. Tanno clocked 53.32s, the poorest winning time since 1991. Chen Lin and Manjeet came behind her, with Mandeep Kaur, who was the more fancied between the Indians, coming fourth.
India had its first gold when 22-year-old Om Prakash Singh won the men’s Shot Put title with a throw of 19.87m. He was trailing in fourth position at the end of the fourth round when he came up with the big one.
The biggest surprise in the competition was Asian record holder Abdulmajeed Al-Hebshi finishing without a medal. He came fifth with just 18.89m. He had recorded 21.13m for the continental record in the Doha Super Grand Prix.
Om Prakash had broken through the 20-metre barrier at the National championships in Chennai last month after having recorded a 19.89m in Istanbul earlier in the season.
At the end of day two, China had eight gold medals, five of them in the women’s section, in a total of 19 medals. Japan followed with two gold medals.
By An IAAF Correspondent
Leading results -
Men - 100m: 1. Zhang Peimeng (Chn) 10.28, 2. Naoki Tsukahara (Jpn) 10.32, 3. Guo Fan (Chn) 10.37.
400m: 1. Liu Xiaosheng (Chn) 46.55, 2. Yuzo Kanemaru (Jpn) 46.60, 3. Ismail Mohammed Al Sibyani (KSA) 46.84.
5000m: 1. Mohammed Othman Shahween (KSA) 3:46.08, 2. Chaminda Wijekoon (Sri) 3:47.01, 3. Chatholi Hamza (Ind) 3:48.44.
Pole vault: 1. Liu Feliang (Chn) 5.60, 2. Yang Quan (Chn) 5.45, 3. Daichi Sawano (Chn) 5.45.
Shot put: 1. Om Prakash Singh (Ind) 19.87, 2. Chang Ming-Huang (Tpe) 19.34, 3. Zhang Jun (Chn) 19.15.
Women - 100m: 1. Chisato Fukushima (Jpn) 11.27, 2. Vu Thi Huong (Vie) 11.50, 3. H. M. Jyothi (Ind)11.60.