Chinese teenager Gong Lijiao at the World Championships in Osaka (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News

Gong Lijiao and Zhang Wenxiu in form - Chinese women’s championships

There was no surprise in the Chinese women’s championships with the fact that throwing events were the highest standard competitions. The champs held in Suzhou from 21-23 May which also covered as the qualification meeting for the 11th National Games in October ended on Saturday (23) morning with the last running event finals to make space on the track for the Asian Grand Prix meet on Saturday evening (23).

Some of the stars like Huang Xiaoxiao, the 400m hurdler who is back from her 2008 injury, was absent but many were competing too. Huang opted to compete at the flat 400m at the Asian GP meet later on Saturday.

20-year-old Gong Lijiao offered another domestic show in the women’s shot put, one of the hard throwing event finals on Friday. The Hebei youngster, who was already 5th at the Olympics last year as a junior, has raised her standards considerably this season. In Suzhou she won with a firm 19.44m result, her third best career mark and has to be considered a medal candidate in Berlin World Championships too. Gong has also been entered for the Chinese team at the 2009 Universiade in Belgrade in July. Li Meiju was second with a good 18.93m season’s best, but the former Chinese number one in the event (2001-2005) will have to do wonders to beat Gong this season. 21-year-old Liu Xiangrong was third equalling her personal best 18.69m and has overtaken Li Ling for the top three Chinese. Li, who set a personal best 19.38m for 4th place in Osaka World Champs in 2007, could only manage a 17.85m result for the fourth place this time.

In the women’s Discus Throw world leading thrower Song Aimin was beaten by 24-year-old Ma Xuejun, double World Junior Champion 2002/2004. Ma hit her second best career throw landing at 63.30m with Song in second place with 62.48m. Xu Shaoyang was third with 60.31m and Sun Taifeng fourth with 60.09m, both season’s bests. 19-year-old Yang Yanbo surprised in fifth with a huge 60.01m personal best, the leading junior mark in the world this year. Olympic bronze medallist Zhang Wenxiu took another hammer title with a season’s best 72.27m result.

In the javelin last year’s surprise champion Liu Chunhua renewed her title with a 57.89m season’s best throw. 20-year-old Fu Lin was second at 56.83m and former World junior record holder Xue Juan, now 23, third with 56.50m, both season’s bests.

The jumping events didn’t offer top results this time with favourites winning in every event. Although only 20 years old still, Zheng Xingjuan grabbed already her third national title in the High jump winning with a 1.84m clearance. Li Shan and Gu Xuan in second and third respectively cleared the same height and all three set a season’s best. Li Ling retained her Pole Vault national title winning with a 4.30m season’s best. Chen Yaling returned to the top of the podium in the long jump winning with a good 6.57m season’s best, she also won in 2006 and 2007. Xie Limei easily took the Triple Jump win with a 14.12m jump and she too won her third national title, adding to her 2006 and 2007 titles. The former Asian record holder with 14.90m in 2007 has already jumped a windy 14.48m result in Japan earlier this month.

Both hurdle winners got good results with 21-year-old Sun Yawei winning with a big personal best 13.15s in the 100m Hurdles. Coming to competition with a 13.39s personal best set in November 2008 she clipped 0.24 seconds off that result. World junior record holder Wang Xing, 22-years-old now, won the 400m Hurdles in 56.26s, a season’s best and her fastest mark since October 2005 when she set the 54.40s record at the 10th National Games in Nanjing.

In distance running there were no fast times but again big names came through. Xue Fei won the 1500m in a 4:12.46 season’s best beating 19-year-old Zhou Haiyan who finished second with a 4:13.32 personal best. Another junior Liu Fang was third in a season’s best 4:14.61.

With Xue not running the 5000m this time 20-year-old Bai Xue grabbed the win in 15:37.07 season’s best and 19-year-old Zhang Yingying took the slow 10,000m final in 33:08.94 beating Zhu Yanmei (33:09.64) and four others in a fierce final sprint. Bai Xue was third in this event in 33:09.90. Jin Yuan won the 3000m steeplechase with a 9:53.16 season’s best, her fastest time in China.

In the 400m Tang Xiaoyin won in 53.06s for her fifth national title in six years. Last year she lost to Chen Jingwen who was second this time in 53.43s. Han Ling won the 200m final in 23.73s and Tao Yujia set a season’s best 11.58s to win the 100m.

The Chinese athletics season will continue with Asian Grand Prix meets on Saturday in Suzhou and on Wednesday in Kunshan. Domestic season continues in June with a National Grand Prix meet in Jiaxing 12-14 June and National Walking Champs in Hoto 19-21 June.

Mirko Jalava for the IAAF

Click here for results