Guowei Zhang

Athlete Profile

  • COUNTRY
    Pr Of China Pr Of China
  • DATE OF BIRTH
    4 JUN 1991
Zhang Guowei in the high jump final at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 (Getty Images)

Personal Best - Outdoor

Performance Wind Place Date
High Jump 2.38 Eugene (Hayward Field), OR 30 MAY 2015

Personal Best - Indoor

Performance Wind Place Date
High Jump 2.33 Beijing 21 MAR 2014

Progression - Outdoor

High Jump

Performance Place Date
2016 2.33 Kawasaki (Todoroki Stadium) 08 MAY
2015 2.38 Eugene (Hayward Field), OR 30 MAY
2014 2.34 Oordegem-Lede 05 JUL
2013 2.29 Moskva (Luzhniki) 15 AUG
2013 2.29 Moskva (Luzhniki) 13 AUG
2012 2.31 Kunshan 23 SEP
2011 2.31 Daegu (DS) 30 AUG
2010 2.23 Hanoi 03 JUL

Progression - Indoor

High Jump

Performance Place Date
2016 2.30 Flagstaff, AZ 19 FEB
2015 2.32 Fresno, CA 16 FEB
2014 2.33 Beijing 21 MAR
2013 2.32 Nanjing 07 MAR
2012 2.31 Istanbul (Ataköy Arena) 11 MAR
2011 2.28 Shanghai 27 FEB

Honours - High Jump

Rank Mark Wind Place Date
The XXXI Olympic Games 13q2 2.22 Rio de Janeiro (Estádio Olímpico) 14 AUG 2016
IAAF World Indoor Championships 6 2.29 Portland (Oregon Convention Center), OR 19 MAR 2016
15th IAAF World Championships 2 2.33 Beijing (National Stadium) 30 AUG 2015
2nd IAAF Continental Cup 2014 6 2.27 Marrakech (Le Grande Stade) 13 SEP 2014
IAAF World Indoor Championships 2014 7 2.29 Sopot (Ergo Arena) 09 MAR 2014
14th IAAF World Championships 9 2.29 Moskva (Luzhniki) 15 AUG 2013
The XXX Olympic Games 11q1 2.21 London (Olympic Stadium) 05 AUG 2012
IAAF World Indoor Championships 2012 4 2.31 Istanbul (Ataköy Arena) 11 MAR 2012
13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 10 2.25 Daegu (DS) 01 SEP 2011

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Created 11 July 2016

 

ZHANG Guowei, China (High Jump)

 

Born: 4 June 1991, Penglai, China

Lives: Penglai, China

2.02m/77kg

Coach: Huang Jianmin

 

For Chinese high jumper Zhang Guowei, 2.40 metres is a sacred mark.

“Every day when I arrive at the training court, I will raise the bar to 2.40m and watch it for several minutes. I tell myself that I can jump over this bar and it’s not difficult. I want to get familiar with the height and build up my confidence.

“Clearing 2.40m is my dream,” said the 25-year-old, whose personal best is 2.38, set at the 2015 IAAF Diamond League meet in Eugene.

In fact, conquering the mark of 2.40m is a dream shared by generations of high jumpers from the most populous country in the world. There are only 16 men in history who have ever broken the 2.40m barrier (including in indoor events) and none of them are from China.

The country’s high jump legend Zhu Jianhua, born in 1963, leaped over 2.39m on 10 June 1984. It was then a World record and had stood for more than one year until Rudolf Povarnitsyn beat it by one centimetre. But as a national record, it has been standing ever since.

 

Born in the city of Penglai in China’s Shandong Province, Zhang started to embrace sports at a very early age. But after unsuccessful experiences training in long-distance running, football, table tennis, long jump and triple jump, he began to train in high jump in 2004 and the first height he achieved was 1.70m.

At that time he had absolutely no idea who Zhu Jianhua is.

“When I started to train in high jump, my coach asked me, ‘Do you know who Zhu Jianhua is?’ And I said no. Then he told me about Zhu’s national record of 2.39m. I was like, ‘What?!’ And since then I have known deep inside myself that I will follow in his footsteps.”

Until now, Zhang still worships Zhu as his idol and pastes the poster of Zhu in his dorm. But he does not want to be the second Zhu. He just wants to be himself, a high jumper who would be able to beat his own idol one day.

 

In 2011, Zhang started to compete at senior level. And it was in that year he made his name known to the media, by literally shouting it out loudly.

He set an indoor PB of 2.28m to win the 2011 National Indoor Championships (Shanghai leg) in February. It was his first senior national title and the feat was accomplished in Shanghai, the home town of his idol Zhu.

After landing on the mat, the excited Zhang took off his jersey, raised his arms to flex his biceps while shouting loudly to the stands, “My name is Zhang Guowei!

His passionate celebration and confident self-introduction was recorded by cameras and broadcast on the national TV channel, leaving a deep impression among the public.

“I do not know why I would shout like that,” Zhang said with a little bit of embarrassment. “I think after that event I just found my own style of celebration.”

 

He improved his outdoor PB to 2.31m in the qualifying round of the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu, where he finished tenth in the final. At the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships, he equalled the Chinese national indoor record of 2.31m, set by Zhu back in 1986 (an Asian record at the time) and went on to better it by one centimetre in 2013.

 

However, the outdoor season of 2013 turned out to be a major setback for the ambitious Zhang. He only finished 9th at the World Championships in Moscow in August with a lacklustre 2.29m clearance, and one month later he settled for a disappointing 2.20m when finishing 6th at the Chinese National Games, while he was widely considered a hot favourite before the competition.

“It was a low point of my career. It seemed I had lost my sharpness. But looking back at that period, I think it was also a precious experience for me.

“Everyone needs to go through some setbacks in his or her life because when you recuperate after that, you will have a bigger heart to face other difficulties,” he explained.

 

In the winter of 2013, Zhang start to train with his current coach Huang Jianmin. It was under the guidance of Huang that Zhang changed his technique I the approach, which provided him with more space to progress.

In the following year, he not only bettered his national indoor record to 2.33m, but also improved his outdoor PB for the first time in three years when he cleared 2.34m to win in Oordegem in July.

Huang helped him to go through the bottleneck period and, more importantly, to restore his confidence.

“I am a consistent jumper with very stable technique. And I think my sense of rhythm can rank top three in the world.”

 

Zhang was not bragging. In 2015 he established himself as one of the best jumpers in the world, setting a PB of 2.38m to finish second in Eugene in May before beating five men from the 2.40m club to win at the Diamond League meet in Oslo with 2.36m in June.

 

Apart from his big clearances, Zhang has also been impressing the world with his ostentatious post-clearance celebrations. He is dubbed “Lord of the Dance” and “King of celebration” by his fans as he was often seen making faces, jigging energetically or doing the horse-riding dance of Gangnam Style after clearances.

 

Although his celebrations may seem a little bit crazy or unhinged, Zhang is pretty proud of them as he believes he is a natural showman.

“I do them because I am excited,” he said. “The competition field is my stage and I want to take the spotlight and show my energy to the audience. On that stage, I am no worse than anyone.”

“For some foreigners may think it is a stereotype for Chinese athletes to be shy and unwilling to show themselves. In fact most Chinese are just humble and reserved and do not want to disturb others.

“But I am different, outgoing and open. I am willing to show my best to the crowds and share my excitement and happiness with them.”

 

But when he is out of the spotlight, Zhang is neither wild nor crazy at all. On the contrary, he has been leading a puritanical life in his daily training. He soaks his feet in hot water for half an hour every day. He never eats junk food and he insists on going to bed no later than 9:30 pm. Although only in his twenties, he lives as a senior person.

“I am a professional athlete and I need to act professionally,” he said. “I think I can jump until 32 or 33 years old. I only have several years left in my career. I cherish these years very much.

“I do want to have some junk food, but I can eat it after I retire. I do want to stay up late, but I can wait until I retire. I do not want to waste my time.

“When I feel too distracted or sluggish, I just think about the 2.40m bar. My dream is up there, and I have to keep going.”

 

Zhang is very close to his dream. Last season he charged for 2.40m in three competitions. Though he failed in the all the attempts, he was more affirmative that he can make it one day.

“I am not disappointed at all. I did not clear 2.40m in 2015 because I was still not good enough. I feel I have already touched the tail of the new national record and I will never let it go,” he said. “I will reach the peak of my career in 2016 or 2017. I believe I can make my dream come true.”

 

Personal Best

High Jump: 2.38 (2015)

 

Yearly Progression

High Jump Outdoor/Indoor: 2010: 2.23/2.10i; 2011: 2.31/2.28i; 2012: 2.31/2.31i NR; 2013: 2.29/2.32i NR; 2014: 2.34/2.33i NR; 2015: 2.38/2.32i; 2016: 2.33/2.30i  

 

Career Highlights

2010   2nd                   Asian Junior Championships (Hanoi)                      2.23

2010   2nd                   National Championships (Jinan)                             2.20

2011   8th                    Asian Championships (Kobe)                                 2.15

2011   10th                  World Championships (Daegu)                             2.25 (2.31Q)

2011   1st                     National Championships (Hefei)                            2.28

2012   2nd                     Asian Indoor Championships (Hangzhou)             2.28

2012   4th                     World Indoor Championships (Istanbul)                2.31

2012   21st                   Olympic Games (London)                                     2.21

2011   1st                     National Championships (Kunshan)                      2.31

2013   9th                    World Championships (Moscow)                              2.29

2013   6th                    Chinese National Games (Shenyang)                      2.20

2014   3rd                    Asian Indoor Championships (Hangzhou)                 2.20

2014   7th                    World Indoor Championships (Sopot)                       2.29

2014   6th                    IAAF Continental Cup (Marrakech)                           2.27

2014   2nd                   Asian Games (Incheon)                                           2.33

2015   2nd                   World Championships (Beijing)                                 2.33 O

 

Prepared by Vincent WU for the IAAF “Focus on Athletes” project. Copyright IAAF 2016