Chinese athletes Yucheng Han and Hong Liu respectively took the men’s and women’s 20km Race Walk titles as the Athletics competition of the 15th Asian Games got underway this morning.
MEN - Han conquers tough conditions
In the men’s race, China’s 2003 Asian champion Yucheng Han, the fifth fastest walker in the world at all time over 50km, underlined his dominance at continental level at the shorter distance with a well taken 20km victory in Doha.
Walking under cold and rainy conditions on the street circuit, Han, who took third place over 20km at this year’s World Cup of Race Walking in Spain, took control of the contest early on and sped to victory in 1:21:41, around ninety seconds ahead of South Korea’s Hyun-Sub Kim, with Japan’s Koichiro Morioka coming home five seconds further adrift for bronze.
“I felt good, but not relaxed,” Han said after the race. “I was tense. This is the first time I have competed in a major race as the only Chinese athlete. So I had to control the race by myself."
Despite his victory and first major championship gold, Han, 27, was disappointed at not getting closer to the Asian record.
“Before the Games I wanted to set a new Asian Games record. I couldn’t do that. I am not totally happy.”
WOMEN - Hong takes control after halfway
Unlike her compatriot Han, women’s race winner Hong Liu, the 2006 World junior champion for the 10,000m Race Walk, had the company of Kazakhstan’s Svetlana Tolstaya for much of the opening exchanges, but when she did get away at the halfway point, her opponent had little to offer by way of an answer.
While the challenge of the chasing pack faltered, Liu mastered the torturous weather conditions to perfection talking victory in 1:32:19 with Japan’s Ryoko Sakakura and another Chinese woman He Dan following her across the finish to take silver and bronze.
"I am very satisfied with the result, especially the gold medal,” said the 19-year-old Liu who was sixth in the 2006 World Cup of Race Walking over 20km. “I'm very excited because this is my first time competing in a major championship for China. I think that winning the gold medal is a tribute to my hard training before the Asian Games. I was very confident in winning.”
Elshadai Negash for the IAAF
1. Yucheng Han (CHN) 1:21:41
2. Kim Hyun-Sub (KOR) 1:23:12
3. Koichiro Morioka (JPN) 1:23:17
4. Yuki Yamazuki (JPN) 1:26:00
5. Rustam Kuvatov (KAZ) 1:27:16
6. Mohammed Mabrook Saleh N (QAT) 1:27:34
7. Waleed Ahmed M Al Sahahy (QAT) 1:37:22
Shokirzhon Irmatov (TJK) DNS
1. Hong Liu (CHN) 1:32:19
2. Ryoko Sakakura (JPN) 1:33:19
3. Dan He (CHN) 1:34:24
4. Svetlana Tolstaya (KAZ) 1:37:05
5. KIM Mi-Jeong (KOR) 1:37:38
6. Otgontuul Volooj (MGL) 1:45:51
7. Geetha Nandani Gallage (SRI) 1:51:41