Mirko Jalava for the IAAF
10 June 2002 - The five-day Chinese National Championships held at Benxi, Liaoning Province, had to wait until the very last day before the first world class result was made in the distance running.
Already with a solo run and clear win from the 5000m, Sun Yingjie, representing Railways, showed other runners that she is the sole hope of distance running in China right now.
She won the 5000 m with more than 30 seconds advantage over Dong Yanmei, who was fourth in the World Championships last year.
But her 10,000 m was even more convincing. Because the other runners clearly showed that they did not fancy a fast pace on the wet Benxi track, Sun made her break early. Mainly a marathon runner, Sun does not have a very fast finish and she did not want to leave it late. She did not race on the track this year before the National Championships, but was fourth in the Boston Marathon in 2:27:26. In the end, Sun lapped all other runners and won the race by a huge margin of nearly two minutes before Dong Yanmei. She crossed the line in 31:09.34, third fastest time in the world this year.
Last year Sun trailed Dong Yanmei at the National Games to capture silver, but now Dong was far behind in 32:58.28.
18-year-old Xing Huina was third in 33:14.49, Xing is the most promising young distance runner in the country - she finished third also in the 5000m.
Other events were spoiled by very strong rain. Especially hammer throws, which were conducted in the morning before other events suffered, as the start of these events had to be delayed for hours. This didn’t actually help as the competition still had some rain coming down. The women’s hammer was won as expected by the Asian Record holder Liu Yinghui, her hammer landed at 66.96m. The men’s competition had the usual winner too, as Ye Kuigang, who has been ruling the event in China for some years now, was the winner with 68.70. The other two medals in the men’s competition were taken by athletes from the small and warm southern island of Hainan, Liu Fuxiang 2nd (68.25) and 18-year-old Zhang Dapeng 3rd (66.75).
Young 800m runner from Harbin city, Li Huiquan, won already his second National title in a row despite being only 16 years old. Dou Zhaobo, 18, who won the 1500 m earlier grabbed the silver. Li will be looking for meetings outside of China as there clearly is no competition for him in his home country. Rain ruined also the men’s 110m hurdles where most hurdlers were about half a second away from their bests. Liu Xiang was the expected winner in a modest time 13.76.
Lao Jianfeng was able to win the triple jump after disappointing fifth place in the long jump. In a tight competition he reached 16.67, just 9cm more than the winner of last year’s National Games, Wu Ji (16.58). Junior athletes occupied the next placings, with the most surprising bronze medalist Li Xing, whose earlier personal best was only 15.75. Now Li was able jump 16.55. National Junior Champion Li Yanxi was fourth (16.41) and Asian Junior Record holder, 17-year-old Gu Junjie fifth with his seasonal best 16.38.
Gu has now been able to overcome the injury problems and will be looking forward to break his record of 16.88, which he set in 2000, being only 15 at the time.
Favourite Liang Lili won the women’s javelin. Rain made it difficult for this event too and the winning mark was only 58.84. 16-year-old Xue Juan, who just recetly won the World Gymnasiades, raised her personal best to 57.76 to take the second place.
Lu Jieming, clearly the best high jump in China, took an easy win with the lowest height of the season, 1.84.
Asian Record holder Gao Shuying won the pole vault with no competition. Her winning result 4.35 was 35cm more than other competitors were able to vault.
The National Championships have now concluded, but unlike earlier seasons, there will be four more National level meetings in China before the Asian Games are held in Busan, Korea, in October. The change of schedule was made because it will be easier for athletes to go to major championships with competitions also closer to them.