Lingwei Li of China on her way to silver at the 2010 World junior championships (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Women throwers in fine form in China, another Asian record in Javelin

The Chinese National Grand Prix Final, the last national meeting before the Olympics, was held in Fuzhou on Saturday (23) and Sunday (24). Rain and headwind ruined most of the first day, but sunshine returned on Sunday with most of the top Chinese athletes attending the meet.

Li Lingwei throw Asian record in javelin

The best result of the weekend came in the women’s javelin with maybe a hint of surprise as 23-year-old Li Lingwei hit the jackpot and became the first Asian thrower over 65 metres with the new javelin (from 1999) winning with a 65.11m Asian record. The Shandong athlete, who won the silver medal at the 2008 World Junior Championships, had only thrown once over the 60m line before this season (60.60m in 2010), but has been throwing well throughout 2012. Her previous personal best was 62.50m from Rhede, Germany three weeks ago. The most consistent Chinese thrower this season, Lu Huihui, who also held the previous Asian record with 64.95m two months ago, was second with a 63.70m result this time.

China has five athletes qualified for the Olympics, also Liu Chunhua, Du Xiaowei and Zhang Li (64.74m in May) have the A-standard of 61.00m, but all of them were below the 60m mark in this competition contested mostly in bad weather.

In the Hammer Throw Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Zhang Wenxiu ruled winning with a 74.09m toss. Zhang has already bettered her Asian record twice this season with her best mark standing at 76.99m from Ostrava in May.

In the Shot Put Gong Lijiao won with a 19.53m result just managing to keep Li Ling behind her with Li setting a season’s best 19.49m for the second place. 2009 Berlin World Championships bronze medallist Gong has a best of 20.21m this season and will be looking to better her fifth place finish from Beijing Olympics in 2008. Li’s best accomplishment is fourth place in Osaka 2007, but she also finished in sixth place at the 2011 Daegu World Championships.

In the discus the reigning World Champion Li Yanfeng showed that her 2012 form is extremely strong. Here she had another 65m throw in stadium conditions winning with a 65.61m result. In her seven 2012 starts the worst result of the season is impressive 64.73m and season’s best 67.84m in Wiesbaden, Germany in May. Tan Jian is a clear Chinese number two right now having thrown 64.45m this season. The Sichuan athlete finished in sixth place in Daegu last year and 62.13m was her result in Fuzhou for the second place. Yang Yanbo, a 63.32m performer this season, returned from the USA to take the third place with 59.26m.

In the High Jump Zheng Xingjuan (equal 6th in Daegu) registered another domestic win clearing 1.92m for the fourth time this season. One of the best juniors in the world, Xu Huiqin, won the pole vault with 4.30m clearing this height for the third time in 2012. Twenty-year-old Xu Xiaoling topped the Long Jump with a 6.63m personal best.

In the women’s running events results weren’t as spectacular as on the field, but Wei Yongli did underline her reign of the sprints at the moment. The 20-year-old scored a fine double in 100m/200m with both events ran into a strong headwind. In the 100m wind was -2.7 and Wei only missed her 2011 PB by 0.06 seconds clocking 11.42 and winning with a huge 0.4-second margin before Jiang Lan, who was second in 11.82. In the 200m Wei set a personal best 23.37 and here too the Jiang was second, but in distance as her time 23.94 was 0.57s behind the winner.

Li Zhenzhu won the 3000m steeplechase in 9:54.72 and Sun Yawei was best in the 100m hurdles in 13.24 against a headwind. Yang Qi set a personal best 56.65 to win the 400m hurdles where favourite Huang Xiaoxiao did not finish her heat the previous day. Two juniors reigned in the heptathlon with Wang Qingling winning with 5656 total points before Wang Yunhan’s 5552 personal best for the second place.

Men’s roundup

In the men’s events Su Bingtian, who recently ran a wind assisted 10.04 was going after his 10.16 national record, but fell short. There was more than one reason as Su was disqualified for a false start in the final after clocking 10.32 as the fastest time in the heats, but there would not have been a record anyway because of the weather as Zhang Peimeng won in 10.53 against a 1.7 m/s wind. Zhang also captured the 200m win in 21.17 in difficult conditions.

In the 800m final six athletes set personal bests in the best ever national race in China. For the first time ever four Chinese athletes dipped under 1:48 in the same race and this was done even without the nation’s number one runner, 18-year-old Teng Haining (who will turn 19 on Monday!), who opted to only run the 1500m here. Teng set a national junior record 1:46.56 in Colombo winning the Asian Championships and obviously other runners tried to beat his time in this race. Twenty-four-year-old Xia Xiudong had run his previous best 1:48.91 in 2008 and now dropped almost two seconds off this time winning in 1:47.01 personal best. Yang Xiaofei was second in 1:47.48 PB. In the 1500m Teng Haining had to be content with a second place in 3:43.54 with Jiang Bing winning in a 3:43.37 season’s best.

With Shi Dongpeng unable to finish his 110m Hurdles heat, Xie Wenjun won the final in a 13.42 personal best followed by Ji Wei in 13.64. In the 400m Hurdles favourite Cheng Wen was not in good form only managing 51.08 for the fourth place a month after he set a season’s best 49.59 in a fine third place finish at the Shanghai Diamond League meet. Li Zhilong won in 50.09 with Chen Ke grabbing the second place in 50.58 season’s best.

Zhang Guowei returned from Europe registering a 2.28m season’s best in the High Jump while in the Long Jump, the duo of Zhao Xiaoxi (8.09m) and Jiang Zhaodan (8.07m) went over the 8-metre line for the first time, but both strongly wind assisted. Dong Bin won the Triple Jump with a 16.83m result and Wang Guangfu set a 19.82m personal best in the Shot Put.

Mirko Jalava for the IAAF

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