The main part of the Chinese athletics season came to a close in China with the National Grand Prix Final held in city of Urumqi in the most western province of Inner Mongolia, 19-20 September.
The long trip to the west did not attract all top athletes and also some of the younger stars were absent with their main target of the season, the 5th City Games, still to come next month.
The overall standard of the results was not very convincing, but the competition still proved that a transition is going on in Chinese athletics. New names are on top of many events and older ones have moved to the sidelines. For example, in the men’s 5000/10,000m the oldest athlete competing was only 24 years old!
Asian record of 14.90m
Xie Limei, 8th at the Osaka World Championships Triple Jump, produced the best mark of the meet breaking her own Asian record set earlier this summer. She bettered the 14.73m set in Bangkok in June by 17cm to 14.90m (+1.0 wind). 21-year-old Xie, from Fujian province, will be surely be looking for a medal with the boost of the home crowd in Beijing next summer. Li Qian, who also competed in Osaka, set a personal best for second place with 14.10m result, a massive 80cm behind winner Xie.
In the women’s Hammer Throw World Championships bronze medallist Zhang Wenxiu continued her good form winning with a 72.95m toss, more than 10 metres better than the other athletes in the event.
Some of the athletes who did well in Osaka, were surprised here. This included Li Ling, who was fourth in the Osaka Shot Put final. Li Meiju, 6th in Osaka, won with a personal best of 19.09m before Li’s 18.58m result. Next two places went to juniors, but the order was surprising: 19-year-old Liu Xiangrong set a big personal best 18.38m for the third place, her first career 18m throw. 18-year-old star Gong Lijiao, with a personal best 19.13m earlier this year and a 7th place finish in Osaka, had to settle for fourth place only managing a 18.06m throw this time.
In the men’s 110m Hurdles, even in the absence of the World record holder and 2007 World Champion Liu Xiang, Shi Dongpeng, 5th in Osaka, was well beaten to third place in 13.64s result. Xing Yanan, who also competed at the World Champs and advanced to semifinals, was second in 13.56 and therefore there was a surprise winner. 23-year-old Ji Wei sliced 0.13s off his personal best 13.53 set in May 2007 in small university competition to win in 13.40 personal best. The depth in this event is very good in China. The country is second best behind USA with seven athletes in the world top 100.
Dominant Zhang Peimeng
The late season news in the men’s sprints has been that 20-year-old Zhang Peimeng, from Beijing, has taken control over both 100m and 200m distances. Zhang finished second at the World University Games 100m in Bangkok in August and now comfortably won both sprints here. He started with a big personal best 20.74 in the 200m and then won 100m in 10.40. 22-year-old Zhao Jiahuan also impressed with a 20.84 PB in 200m.
19-year-old Liu Xiaosheng added another title in the 400m in 46.34. He has won the World Champs Trials, the National Championships, National University Games and now the Grand Prix Final as well in 2007. As the winner of the City Games Trials and a 45.79 personal best this season he will surely be looking to add one more title in that meet in October.
In the men’s 400m Hurdles Zhu Zhi won with a season’s best 49.97s with Meng Yan, semifinalist in Osaka, not finishing the race. 19-year-old Yu Zipei finished in third with a personal best 50.32s time which moves him to third place on the Chinese junior all-time list behind Tan Chunhua (49.78 1996) and Zhang Shibao (50.07 2002).
World Junior beats Youth champion
19-year-old 2006 World Junior Champion Huang Haiqiang jumped 2.20m in the High Jump to beat the 2007 World Youth champion Wang Chen (2.15m). National record holder Liu Feiliang (5.71m 2007), who narrowly missed the Osaka Pole Vault final on count-back, easily won with a 5.45m clearance. Yang Quan was second equalling his season’s best 5.30m and 2006 World Junior Championships silver medallist Yang Yangsheng third with the same result.
19-year-old Zhang Xiaoyi won the Long Jump at 7.90m and Gu Junjie was best in the Triple Jump (16.87m). World Championships finalist Zhong Minwei was well beaten and could only finish fourth with a 16.21m result. 20-year-old Zhong, who was 11th in Osaka and has jumped 17.27m this season, will be looking for a win at the City Games later this season.
In the men’s Javelin Throw, 19-year-old Wang Qingbo set a personal best 77.76m, fourth best result on the Chinese all-time junior list.
The best Chinese middle distance runner Liu Qing, who has been off her best form this season, won the women's 800m in 2:07.09, but was beaten in the 1500m by Jin Yuan (4:19.04), who competed in Osaka in the 3000m Steeplechase. 18-year-old Bai Xue won the 5000m in 15:35.46 and another 18-year-old Xue Fei took the 10000m title in a 32:29.12 personal best.
Zheng Xingjuan won the women’s High Jump equalling her personal best 1.88m and 19-year-old Zhou Yang won the pole vault equaling her personal best 4.30m.
The last track meet for senior athletes will be the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix on September 28. Then the season continues with the Beijing international marathon on October 21 and concludes with the 5th City Games in Wuhan 23-27 October. This is a junior meeting for athletes born 1987-1991.
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF
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