23 OCT 2009 General News

World leading 66.40m Discus heave by Li Yanfeng in Jinan – Chinese National Games, Day 2

Li Yanfeng in Beijing (Getty Images)Li Yanfeng in Beijing (Getty Images) © Copyright

World leading 66.40 Discus heave by Li Yanfeng in Jinan – Chinese National Games, day 2

22 October 2009 - The standard of competition impressed also during day two of the 11th National Games in Jinan, China. The first day had already suggested a good meet to come with Gong Lijiao moving to number two in the world this season with a 20.35m result, but today Li Yanfeng bettered that achievement.

The 30-year-old from Heilongjiang did not start the competition as a favourite. Li who had finished seventh at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and also made the final four years before in Athens didn’t compete in the Berlin World Championships as her season’s best was only 58.57m in April. She had progressed to a 61.61m SB with a win at the National Grand Prix Final in September, but immediately bettered that with her first throw of 61.90m, but there was much more to come.

Li, competing in her third National Games with a fifth place in 2001 and 11th in 2005, released a perfectly balanced throw with her second try with the discus flying in good angle landing at 66.40m, a world leader and a big 2.06m improvement to her five-year-old earlier personal best 64.34m. It seemed game over at this stage and although Li did manage a 63.93 throw in the next round she had used all she got in this competition. Li moved to a respectable 7th place in the Chinese alltime list with this mark which was the best by a Chinese athlete in 12 years and four days since Xiao Yanling won the 1997 National Games with a competition record 70.00.

Behind Li Song Aimin was in second place with her 61.34m first throw which she bettered in round four throwing 61.52m. But Song, who placed fourth at the 2008 Olympics and fifth at the 2009 World Champs, and was the number one favourite in this event still had some power left and found the right technique with her last throw setting a personal best 65.44m for the second place. The 31-year-old Song, who like Li has reached 60 metres for 11 years in a row, had set her earlier PB in May 2003 and it stood well more than six years. This was also Song’s third straight medal finish after her victory in 2001 and third place showing in 2005. Xu Shaoyang was third with 60.90m in her third National Games and Ma Xuejun, the World Junior Champion from both 2002 and 2004, scored her second fourth place at the National Games with a 60.64m result. Jiang Fengjing in fifth got over the 60m limit for the first time throwing a 60.26m personal best.

Zhang Xiaoyi improves to 8.27m

The men’s Long Jump was also a high standard one with four athletes going over eight metres. 26-year-old Li Runrun, who was second in the 2005 NG, took the lead in round one with an 8.06m season’s best jump. 2009 National champion, 20-year-old Li Jinzhe also started well with a 7.99m in round one before taking the lead in round two with an 8.11m personal best. The youngster had been really unlucky in Berlin where he together with Finn Tommi Evilä did not qualify for the final although had jumped the same 8.01n result that the 12th best athlete had done in the qualification. Another 20-year-old, Zhang Xiaoyi of Army, who jumped an 8.17m personal best and Asian junior record as a 16-year-old in 2006, but had not exceeded eight metres since June 2007 and only had a 7.72m season’s best before the National Games was in real trouble after two rounds. Although Zhang had qualified easily with a 7.88m season’s best as the second best athlete to the final, his 7.52m in round one and a foul in round two did only give him the tenth place after two rounds. But Zhang bounced back well managing an 8.14m result in round three taking the lead under pressure. Then round four saw the biggest jumps of the evening with first Su Xiongfeng rising from eighth to fourth with an 8.05n season’s best only having managed 7.71m in the first three rounds. Then Li Jinzhe retook the lead with a big 8.18m personal best, but Zhang as the next jumper exploded to a big 8.27m personal best and a win at his first National Games. Li Jinzhe was second with 8.18m, Li Runrun third (8.06m) and Su Xiongfeng fourth (8.05m). Reigning champion from 2005, Zhang Xin, was only ninth this time at 7.69m.

Wang Hao solidifies his domestic No. 1 position in the 20km Race Walk

The highlight of the morning was naturally men’s 20km walk where World Champs silver medallist Wang Hao competed. The 20-year-old from Inner Mongolia walked to a clear win in a 1:18:13 personal best to make sure he is nowhere near of losing his Chinese number one status he took last year. Wang’s time is the second fastest in the world this year and fourth in the Chinese all-time list. The new star has also been entered to the 50km walk here and it will be interesting to see whether he really will compete as 30km is the longest distance he has ever competed in.

Li Jianbo, who finished 12th in Berlin, took second place in a personal best 1:19:10 and will also compete in the 50km. 2007 World University Games champion Chu Yafei was third in 1:20:27 and reigning National Games champion from 2005, Li Gaobo, still only 20 years old, made a successful comeback to the top clocking 1:20:49 season’s best for the fourth place.

This competition also served as the final takeover by younger athletes with many former greats in the race well beaten. Asian record holder (1:17:41 in 2005), 26-year-old Zhu Hongjun, who also finished in sixth place at the 2004 Olympics, was only 18th in a 1:24:59 season’s best. Zhu had been fifth in 2001 and second in 2005. Yu Chaohong, the 50km walk Asian record holder at 3:36:06, who had been third in both 2001 and 2005, could now only finish in 25th place in 1:26:40. 30-year-old Han Yucheng who won the Asian Games 2006, was the last 35th finisher clocking 1:32:38.

Elsewhere...

The men’s pole Vault was also a good competition with some unexpected turns. It was thought to be a duel between national record holder Liu Feiliang (5.71m) and Yang Yangsheng who finished 1-2 in 2005 and had recently jumped 5.70m, but it didn’t turn out to be that simple. 18-year-old Xia Xiang set a personal best and Tang Zhanggui a season’s best with both athletes tied for fifth place with a 5.30m clearance. For the first time in China four athletes in the same competition tried 5.50m. 22-year-old Li Kang didn’t make this height but set a 5.40m personal best for fourth place. Liu Feiliang was the only one clearing 5.50m with his first with both Yang Yansheng and Yang Quan making it with their second jumps. For Yang this was a personal best bettering 5.45m from 2006/2008 although he has jumped 5.61m (former national indoor record) indoors in 2007. The surprise came in the next height with Yang being unable to clear and both Liu and Yang, for another personal best, going over the bar with their first tries. Yang then made an unsuccessful try at 5.65m before moving to 5.70m which both Liu and Yang failed to clear in round one. Yang, whose first jump at 5.70m was extremely close, failed with his second jump as well and Liu already having won the competition went on to make two unsuccessful jumps at a national record height 5.80m.

Four sprint finals were in the spotlight too. In the men’s 100m the winners of the two semifinals Zhang Peimeng (10.35 semi) and Lu Bin (10.31 semi) seemed to be the biggest favourites and they did not disappoint in the final. A slight headwind of 0.4 m/s prevented records from being shattered, but the Jiangxi athlete Lu Bin still won comfortably in a 10.25 personal best having lead very clearly after 70 metres. Although Zhang closed the gap considerably in the end he didn’t come within a striking distance setting a season’s best 10.31 for second place. Guo Fan was third in 10.41. 27-year-old Hu Kai who had looked to better his silver medal finish from 2005 was disappointed today and retired from the sport with an eighth place finish clocking 10.57.

In the men’s 400m the only favourite, 21-year-old Liu Xiaosheng from Guangdong didn’t let the other competitors anywhere near him. Liu, who had dipped under 46 seconds in 2007 and 2008, clocked a season’s best 46.02 winning in style, his fastest time since May 2008 and fourth fastest ever. Teammate Wang Youxin was a distant second in 46.84 bettering his third place finish 2005. Chen Xiaochuan set a season’s best 46.90 for the bronze medal.

The women’s 100m final was not the best of standards, but indeed a tight one. Jiangsu athletes Jiang Lan and Chen Jue seemed to be fighting for the gold when pre-race favourite, Wang Jing from Fujian stormed past them to win in 11.50 against a 0.6 m/s headwind. Jiang was timed the same time 11.50 (SB) and Chen was close behind in 11.51.

In the 400m Huang Xiaoxiao, a hurdles specialist and a home crowd favourite from Shandong, had no problem retaining her title from 2005 clocking 52.23 season’s best for the second straight title at the National Games. The crowd was absolutely thrilled to see 18-year-old Shandong athlete Chen Lin complete a 1-2 with a 52.96 personal best. 19-year-old Chen Jingwen from Guangdong set a season’s best 53.10 for the third place with teammate Tang Xiaoyin landing another fourth place finish in 53.39. Tang was also fourth in 2005.

In the women’s 100m Hurdles pre-race favourite Sun Yawei who had set a 13.12 personal best in the heats, was badly surprised by the strength of 32-year-old reigning champion Liu Jing, who took a clear lead in the race before the halfway mark. Sun almost caught Liu at the final hurdle, but the champion kept her cool and dipped to the finish line at the right time clocking a season’s best 13.15 to retain her National Games title from 2005. Sun was second in 13.17 with Zhang Rong third with a season’s best 13.40. 2001 winner Su Yiping faded to fifth place this time in 13.74.

In the women’s Heptathlon there were no world class results, but still a surprising winner. 18-year-old Liaoning athlete Mei Yiduo had entered the competition only with a 5288p personal best, the winning result from the National Junior Championships, but was able to pull out an unprecedented victory adding 401 points to the total score and win with 5689p personal best. Mei unbelievably set a personal best in each of the seven events and total score as well to add up to eight personal bests in the competition. 24-year-old teammate Liu Haili took a second successive silver medal although she scored almost 500 points less than in 2005 with 5668p season’s best this time. Sun Lu was third with a 5363p personal best.

Mirko Jalava for the IAAF

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