Wang Zhen collects a convincing victory in Erdos (Organisers) © Copyright
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Walking records galore at China’s National University Games

The 9th Chinese National University Games, which ended today, featured a couple of dozen London Olympians and race walkers who did well at the Olympics were in the centre of attention here too. The athletics part of the Games was held 13-18 September in Tianjin mostly in sunny and warm weather.

The fourth day of the competition, Sunday the 16th, proved to be the best day with Asian records broken in both men’s and women’s track walks. The shorter distances were scheduled that day and the winners were the same who had won the IAAF Race Walking Challenge Final in Erdos just two days earlier. In the men’s 10,000m race Wang Zhen continued well leaving 20km Olympic champion Chen Ding far behind here too. This distance on the track is rarely contested in China and even the standing national record had been set in this same competition in Chengdu in 2000 when Li Zewen clocked 39:33.18 for the win.

Wang Zhen was in a different level though leaving the others behind early and winning in 38:30.38 Asian record erasing Japanese Koichiro Morioka’s 39:07.84 (2010) from the record books to become the first Asian under 39 minutes in this distance. Wang’s time is also the fastest in the world this year and fastest since July 2008 when Spaniard Francisco Javier Fernández set the standing World best 37:53.09. Olympic champion Chen Ding finished back in fifth place in 40:04.04.

Cai Zelin, Fourth at the Olympic 20km, was also fast in second place clocking 38:59.98, also under the previous Asian mark and Chu Yafei was third in 39:22.47. The brightest new star behind the top, just 17-year-old Li Tianlei missed the World Youth Best 39:47.20 set by Chen Ding in 2008 (at the age of just 15) by just two seconds in 39:49.44, becoming the second fastest youth athlete all-time.

In the women’s shorter distance 5000m walk the Asian record had stood since 1990. Jin Bingjie walked the previous mark 20:37.7, also the world junior best back then. Just like Wang Zhen in the men’s side, Liu Hong was disappointed in London with a fourth place (Wang was third), but had won the IAAF Race Walking Challenge Final. Here Liu set the Asian record 20:34.76 for a clear win before Olympic 20km bronze medallist Qieyang Shenjie, who finished second in 20:42.67. Wang Shanshan was third in 20:51.89 and 18-year-old Mao Yanxue walked the fastest junior time this season for fourth in 21:12.91, all personal bests.

The rest of the events did not see any national records broken, but the overall quality was much better than in earlier editions resulting in competition records in many events. Olympic contestants were on top in most events. Zhang Peimeng, who was part of the 4x100m Relay team setting 38.38 national record in London heats, won a sprint double 100m/200m (10.38/20.91 SB) setting a season’s best 10.28 in the 100m semifinals. Another member of the Olympic relay team, national record holder (10.16, 2011) Su Bingtian, also competed, but has been hampered by an injury lately and did not start his semifinal.

In the 110m Hurdles 22-year-old Xie Wenjun emerged as the expected winner in 13.73. Xie ran a 13.34 personal best in the London semifinals and was the fastest athlete not qualifying for the final there.

Olympic hurdlers were the top two in the 400m Hurdles as well with Li Zhilong winning in a 49.86 season’s best followed by Cheng Wen in 50.10. 21-year-old Wang Yu added 7cm to his season’s best with a 2.27m high jump win making three attempts at 2.30m (PB 2.28 2011) and Sun Chao bettered his 2010/2012 PB 2.20m by 5cm with a second time clearance at 2.25m and second place.

Su Xiongfeng won the Long Jump with an 8.05m season’s best with Li Jinzhe, an Olympic contestant and a 8.25m jumper this season, surprisingly fading to seventh place with 7.69m. 10th in the Olympic Triple Jump final, Dong Bin, grabbed an easy win here with 16.84m and 27-year-old Liaoning athlete Zhao Qinggang opened the javelin contest with a 79.86m personal best for the win.

Yu Bin won the Decathlon with 7544p and with the two top names Wang Zhen and passing the 20,000m track walk Xu Faguang won in 1:23:06.83 and Li Tianlei became the second fastest youth walker in this event too with a second place finish in 1:23:37.21. Countryman Wang Yinhang walked the world youth best 1:23:18.2 in 2004.

In the rest of the women’s events Tao Yujia won the 100m in a season’s best 11.51 with the favourite Wei Yongli, who ran in the Olympic heats, disqualified in the semifinals. Wei won the 200m in 23.88 later on. Zhao Jing was a double winner in 800m/1500m (2:06.29/4:24.94) and 2008 Olympic finalist Xue Fei won 5000m in 15:37.34 season’s best. Li Zhenzhu, who just missed the 3000m steeplechase final in London, won here in 10:01.31 and 20-year-old Wu Shujiao set a personal best 13.13 winning the 100m Hurdles.

In the women’s field events Zheng Xingjuan won the High Jump with 1.89m, leaving the competition at that height. The Chinese Olympic trio from Shot Put was the top three here too. Olympic bronze medallist Gong Lijiao threw 19.17m in round two and that was enough for the win. Sixth at the Olympic, Liu Xiangrong, was second here with 18.06m and Olympic fourth placer Li Ling third with 17.52m, more than two metres below her result at the Olympic final in London.

Jiang Fengjing topped the Discus Throw with a 60.47m season’s best and Hao Shuai was best in the hammer with 65.23m. Chinese number one javelin thrower Lu Huihui hit a great series in London for fifth place, but was nearly beaten here. She was leading the competition after five rounds with 58.57m, but Du Xiaowei passed her with her last throw 59.50m. Lu, who briefly held the Asian record in April with a 64.95m result, still her PB, was able to answer launching a 60.11m throw with her last attempt for the win.

The Chinese outdoor season will be closed with the National Championships in Kunshan from 22-25 September.

Mirko Jalava for the IAAF

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