A close women's Discus Throw competition provided the highlight of the second day's action at the 10th Chinese National Games in Nanjing.
27-year-old Song Aimin, from Hebei province, was looking to repeat her win from the 2001 Games, having reached a season's best of 65.23 earlier this year. Song, who reached the Helsinki final with a solid 64.15 effort in qualifying, had 10 60-plus metre efforts to her credit this year, making her the solid favorite.
But it was not to be.
Song achieved a solid 63.40 result today, but it was barely enough to finish third. Huang Qun unleashed a personal best of 64.53 in round five, only to be outdone by 31-year-old Li Qiumei, who reached 64.89 in the final round, her best throw since she finished second at the 1997 Games. Huang proved a worthy competitor, falling just short of the win with a final round 64.49.
Ma Xuejun, the 2004 World Junior champion, finished fourth place with a personal best 61.87, while 37-year-old Asian record holder Xiao Yanling (71.68, 1992) completed her comeback and another top eight finish in the National Games. Xiao retired at the end of 2001 before coming back last season. The winner in the 1997 Games (70.00), she took fourth in 2001.
Upset in the men's 100
In the men's 100 metres, World University Games winner Hu Kai was bitterly upset by 26-year-old Guangxi athlete Gong Wei. Gong, who made it to the top in the 1997 Games in Shanghai with a personal best of 10.27, has been struggling since and was not considered a threat in these National Games. Reaching the final as the fastest loser in the heats, he rose to the occasion in the final with a 10.24 (+2.5 m/s) win. Hu Kai was second in 10.31, with Pang Guibin, Gong's teammate from Guangxi, third in 10.32. Jin Ke, the fastest Chinese man of 2005, ran 10.23 in the semis but faltered in the final, finishing sixth in 10.42.
The women's short dash lacked the quality usually seen in the National Games. Qin Wangping, from the host province Jiangsu, took the win in 11.34, just missing her five-year-old personal best of 11.30. 28-year-old Li Xuemei, the 100/200 double winner at both the 1997 and 2001 Games, finished last in her semi final, failing to advance. The Asian record holder in both short sprints - 10.79 and 22.01 - achieved a season's best 11.72 in the heats in a meeting which could very well be the last of her career.
Huang takes flat 400
22-year-old Huang Xiaoxiao successfully completed the first third of her triple win goal. Huang, who finished fifth in the Helsinki World Championships 400 metre hurdles, easily beat the reigning champion Bu Fanfang with a season's best 51.95 with Bu second in 52.34, a season's best. Huang is the clear favourite in the full-lap hurdles after running a personal best 54.34 in the Helsinki semis. The 2001 winner, co-Asian record holder at 53.96s, Song Yinglan, is also competing, but her best results have been far behind Huang this season. Huang will also be looking for a third gold medal with the Shandong team in the 4x400m relay where the are the favourites.
In the women's 100 metre hurdles, 28-year-old Liu Jing finally won a National Games title. Liu, who was absent from 2002 to 2003, has been overshadowed by Su Yiping and Feng Yun in recent seasons. In the 1997 Games she finished second with a personal best of 12.76; today (18 October) she clocked 12.96 for the win, her best result since 1998. Pre-race favourites Su Yiping and Feng Yun were second and third in 13.05 and 13.08 respectively.
Wang Liangyu added the National Games title to his list of accomplishments, winning the men's 400m with a personal best 46.15. Wang Xiaoxu was second in 46.44, with Tan Biao third in 46.66.
New names in the men's Long Jump
The men's Long Jump signaled a transition. Many key names from the past took part in the competition, but were never a threat. 22-year-old Zhang Xin, from Tianjin, won the competition with a personal best of 7.99 to better his 11th place finish in the 2001 Games. Another Jiangsu medal was achieved by Li Runrun, who took second with a personal best leap of 7.89. Triple jump specialist Gu Junjie was third with a 7.86 best. 2001 winner Li Dalong (8.22m PB from 2001) could only manage 7.50 for eighth place, with National record holder Lao Jianfeng (8.40m in 1997) finishing 11th (7.45). The biggest upset in the competition was the performance by Zhou Can. Zhou, the bronze medallist from the recent Asian Championships with an 8.05 best this year, reached just 7.30, finishing 15th.
Men's Pole Vault
20-year-old Liu Feiliang, the national record holder, was the pre-meet favourite in the men's Pole Vault. Liu claimed the record in June in Eugene, USA, clearing 5.70m. But he's been struggling since. He could only manage 5.30 at the national championships, and no-heighted at the World Championships. He suffered the same fate at the Asian Championships in Incheon, but came back in Nanjing today winning with a 5.60 effort. 17-year-old Yang Yansheng finished second on the countback with a 5.45 clearance. Liu had the bar raised to a new national record height of 5.71, but missed his three attempts.
In the men's Hammer Throw, 30-year-old Ye Kuigang, competing for the Army, repeated his 2001 win with a season's best 71.93. Liu Fuxiang was second with a 70.33 toss, a season's best. 18-year-old Qi Dakai was third with a 67.35 throw, also a season's best.
Liu leads Heptathlon
20-year-old Liu Haili leads the Heptathlon after day one with a 3,602 point tally. Shen Shengfei, currently second with 3,576 points, has, on paper, the best shot at the win with a strong second day. Shen is the reigning champion and finished second in the 1997 Games at the age of 16. Shen set a personal best in the High Jump with a 1.86 third attempt clearance and is looking to reach her first 6,000 point score of the season. Wang Hailan, who was second to Shen in 2001, is looking for another medal. She has 3,534 points and sits in third place after day one.
In the women's 1500 metre heats, 10,000m winner Xing Huina easily advanced to the final after a third place finish in heat one with, clocking 4:19.66. 19-year-old Liu Qing was fastest in the heats, winning heat two with a season's best 4:11.69.
In the men's 1500m heats national record holder Dou Zhaobo (3:36.49 in 2003), easily advanced after winning his heat with a season's best of 3:45.08. Yang Weize, the 2001 winner, also advanced.
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF