Zhang Wenxiu’s spectacular Asian women's Hammer Throw victory was the highlight of the second day’s action of Athletics at the 15th Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, on Friday (8), during which four gold medals were decided – men’s & women’s Hammer Throws, men’s 3000m Steeplechase, and women’s 10,000m.
Kayoko Fukushi of Japan was the best of the two track winners, taking the women’s 10,000m in a dominating 31:29.38 assault on her opponents hopes for gold.
Zhang Wenxiu saves best for last
China’s Asian Championships Hammer Throw winner Zhang Wenxiu was always the overwhelming favourite coming into the Games, and had the competition effectively won as early as the first throw when she unleashed 69.06m into the cloudy skies of Doha.
Her own standard dipped in the next two throws, but after recovering with 72.50 on her fourth attempt, she broke her own Asian record to take victory in 74.15m, eighty-one centimetres better than her previous life-time best.
Her compatriot Gu Yuan, who won the inaugural women’s Hammer title in 2002, was more than nine metres adrift in second (65.13m), with bronze going to Japan’s Aya Masumi (62.67m).
“I prepared well for these Games and I am happy with victory,” said an ecstatic Zhang Wenxiu after the event. “I saved my best for the later attempts. I am happy about my Asian record. I feel that I can prepare better for future events.”
First ever Asian Games gold for Tajikistan
Dilshod Nazarov (PB 77.63m), 24, who set his season’s best of 70.08m in Istanbul, took advantage of the absence of Olympic champion Koji Murofushi of Japan to steal victory from Kuwaiti favourite Mohamed Ali Al-Zankawi in the men's Hammer Throw. The 22-year-old holds the national record with 76.97m (2006) and was 2002 World Junior silver medallist, and has been in much better form altogether this year.
Nazarov had trailed Zenkawi during the first three attempts after the Kuwaiti had flung out 73.14m on his second throw.
But while the Tajikistani improved to 74.43m in the fifth round, the rainy weather conditions undermined the Kuwaiti’s fight back, and so Nazrarov held on to claim his country’s first ever gold medal in the history of the Asian Games.
“Since I competed in Istanbul in June, I have been training for the Asian Games,” Nazarov said after making history. “The weather prevented me from getting a better result today. But I am very happy with gold.”
Japan’s Hiroaki Doi was a distant third – 69.45m.
Fukushi dominates women’s 10,000m
There was no real surprise in the women’s 10,000m as Japan’s Kayoko Fukushi, who took silvers at both 5000m and 10,000m four years ago, showed why she is amongst the continent’s top distance runners with a comfortable victory.
The 24-year-old, who is her country’s national record holder over 3000m and 5000m, hit the front at the beginning of the race and despite the intentions of Bahrain’s Jasim Kareema Saleh, 18, and her Japanese compatriot Hiromi Ominami, she was well clear of the field with more than fifteen laps to spare.
As Saleh and Ominami battled for the silver medal position, Fukushi powered on in a race against the clock to try and get under the elusive 31-minute mark. Her challenge faltered, but she was a comfortable winner in 31:29.38 with Saleh sprinting past Ominami to take silver – 32:17.14 to 32:18.02. Saleh’s time was a national senior and junior record.
Tareq takes 3000m Steeplechase
The form and talent of Bahrain's Tareq Mubarak Salem, also known as Tareq Mubarak Taher, lived up to expectations with a well taken victory in the men’s 3000m Steeplechase.
The Games spirit might have been dampened by the withdrawal of two-time World champion Saif Saaeed Shaheen, the World record holder, but China’s Lin Xiangqian ensured that the remaining medal contenders would endure nervy moments.
The 19-year-old Chinese runner (8:29.78 PB – 2006) stormed into a commanding lead in the first lap and looked comfortable throughout the race, although he only ended up doing the unofficial pace-making job for the event’s better known runners.
With Xiangqian tiring, the Bahraini overtook the Chinese runner with 300m to go to win the race in 8:26.85, ahead of Qatar’s Gamal Belal Salem (8:29.10).
“I did exactly as my coach told me,” Tareq said. “Since this is a major championship race, I waited until the end to launch my finishing kick. I was OK. I was not afraid when the Chinese runner took off like the way he did.”
Lin Xiangqian finished third in 8:30.49.
In the heats…Simpson, Jamal, Ramzi, Jayasinghe progress
There were few surprises in the day’s other events as the favourites comfortably made it through to the final of their events.
Bahrain’s World Indoor 1500m bronze medallist and World Cup 1500m winner Maryam Yusuf Jamal won her heat of the women’s 800m in 2:08.67 to progress to Thursday’s final. Kazakhstan’s Viktoriya Yalovtseva (2:04.70) was the fastest qualifier in the first of three heats and should pose the biggest challenge to the Ethiopian-born runner.
World 800m and 1500m champion Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain looked in a class of his own in the men’s 1500m qualifiers as he stormed away in the last lap to win his heat in 3:42.62, the fastest time in the preliminaries.
A Sri-Lankan-dominated crowd roared with deafening cheers when the country’s 2000 Olympic 200m bronze medallist Susanthika Jayasinghe, the defending Asian Games champion at 100m, qualified from the 200m heats.
Bahrain’s Jamaican-born sprinter Brandon Simpson also qualified in style from the men’s 400m heats.
Elshadai Negash for the IAAF
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