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Qu breaks Decathlon record again in Chinese Championships

Qu breaks Decathlon record again in Chinese Championships
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF
9 June 2002 – The fourth day of the 2002 Chinese National Championships finally saw a National Record broken. Qu Haifeng, only 18-years-old, broke his own decathlon record by margin of 9 points. His new score of 8030 also ranks him sixth in the World Junior All-time list and was his third National Record in three consecutive decathlons.

The Liaoning athlete had to battle against the record on his own in front of his home crowd as he won the competition with a huge margin of nearly 800 points ahead of Liu Jun, also from Liaoning.

This was Qu’s first decathlon of the year as he did not take part in the National Junior Championships, it will be therefore interesting to see whether China AA will choose no doubt the best junior decathlete in the world to go to Kingston despite the fact that they had said each athlete who wants to compete in Jamaica will have to be in the top two of the National Junior Championships.

Of course decathlon is a special event and they probably will choose Qu if he wants to compete. Qu has earlier stated that his next goal is to be in the top eight in the next Olympics Games 2004 and then win the Olympic gold medal in Beijing 2008.

Women’s shot put, which is kind of a national event in China, was won by 21-year-old Li Meiju. Li, who was a surprise winner in last year’s National Games, but who entered this meeting as favourite, kept her calm and produced a personal best of 18.95 to win easily. In addition to Qu Haifeng’s National Record in decathlon, Li’s mark was only the second winning result better than in the 2001 National Games.  Although Li’s level is still narrowly under 19 metres, she is believed to have the ability to bring the Chinese back to medals in major championships during the next few years.

In running events the usual pedestrian pace continued. The women’s 800m saw a very slow first lap and of course it was a sprint finish then. The top four athletes crossed the line within 0.28 seconds - Liu Xiaoping, who just lost at 1500m earlier, was now able to win in 2:09.80.

Although the wind was quite strong again and made it difficult to run especially for 400 m hurdlers, poor results in the women’s race are not explained by this.  Last year many athletes were able to produce personal bests at Guangzhou National Games, but now the same athletes were far away from that level. 

The women’s 400 m hurdles was won by Yao Yuehua in 58.36, a mark which would not have been enough even to enter the final in last year’s National Games. This result is also the slowest winning time in the National Championships since the early 1980’s. Asian Record holder Song Yinglan, who was already totally out of form during the indoor season, finished third in a dismal 58.88, 4.98 seconds slower than her Asian Record just 6 months ago.

China’s brightest men’s sprint star Xu Zizhou, who did not show for the 400m, returned to the track for 200 metres, but was handed a rare defeat by Yang Yaozu. Yang won with 20.93 against Xu’s 20.98. In the men’s 400 hurdles Meng Yan won with a modest result: 50.48. Young Zhang Shibao, who was ranked first before the meeting, was not yet ready to win as he finished second at 50.62, half a second slower than his best this year.

Wang Zhouzhou, from Shanghai, returned to the top podium after injury problems earlier this year. Wang won the high jump competition with 2.24 against Zhu Wannan and Cui Kai tied at second jumping 2.21.

The men’s 10,000m was just another display of the problems in Chinese distance running.  19-year-old Zhang Yunshan took the win, but his winning time of 29:31.86 is not worth mentioning. This for a second National title in a row for the young Shandong athlete.

Qin Wangping, whose 100m title was won with a very slow time - over 12 seconds - did not have to battle as hard a wind this time and took another National Championship over 200 metres in 23.32. This was the second 200m title for Qin, from Jiangsu - she won her first already in 1999 as a 16-year-old. Chen Yuxiang, who won the 400m, now had to settle for a second place, time 23.44.

One of the brightest stars of Chinese athletics, Huang Qiuyan, was not in her best form, but still won the triple jump competition. Despite the fact that Huang is already a two-time National Games winner from 1997 & 2001, this was her first National Championship. Huang’s winning result 14.12 was only 6cm ahead of Zhang Hao at second place (14.06) and 14cm ahead of Wu Lingmei at third (14.02).

The last day of the National Championships at Benxi will see several top athletes on the track. Liu Xiang made his way to the 110m hurdles final and with Chen Yanhao now retired, he will surely seek his first National title. However, Li Tong’s Asian Record of 13.25 will not be in jeopardy because the Benxi track has been proven not to be optimal for sprint events.

Li Huiquan, 16-years-old, who passed the 1500m, will be the main focus in the 800m final. Li, the reigning National Champion and 2001 National Games winner, has been forecast to break Mou Weiguo’s National Record of 1:46.44. But Li might save his best for the Asian Games where Mou’s record was made eight years ago.

The women’s hammer competition is also an interesting one as Liu Yinghui will be looking to break her own Asian Record of 68.06 set earlier this year.

When the Chinese National Championships conclude tomorrow, a thorough investigation will be started to find out what is wrong with the Chinese athletics. At least too many athletes have stopped their careers - this cannot be hidden because young athletes can’t take their place all of a sudden. Also the problems with distance running, once so prestigious in China, are obvious. Because the Olympic Games in 2008 are held in China, China AA will try everything they can to lift the country’s athletics to a level where they can achieve gold medals in their own games.