China's Wang Zheng in the hammer (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report Chengdu, China

Wang smashes Asian hammer record in China

The first outdoor meeting of the 2014 season in China, featuring only long throws for seniors, juniors and youth, kicked off with some excellent results on Saturday (29) in Chengdu, Sichuan province.

Zhang Wenxiu, the three-time world bronze medallist, held the Asian record since 2005 when she won the National Championships with 73.24m, a mark which remains the world junior record.

The 28-year-old’s latest record was 76.99m in Ostrava in May 2012, but today it was time for her to move aside after keeping the record for almost nine years.

Here in Chengdu Zhang finished second with 74.77m, the second-best season opener of her career behind only the 75.72m Asian record she set in March 2012. But she was way behind the winner today.

Wang entered the hammer throwing world’s spotlight only last year in Moscow, where the 26-year-old surprised everyone with a fourth-place finish and a personal best both in the qualification and the final.

Being roughly of the same age as Zhang, Wang had met with the previous Asian record-holder 42 times and only won twice. She had won two National Grand Prix Finals, in 2010 (71.19m against 70.88m) and in 2013 (71.77m against 70.12m), but was defeated in Moscow (75.58m against 74.90m) and then the National Games in September (73.68m against 71.48m).

Today she opened with a 71.03m toss, well behind Zhang’s first throw of 73.39m, but a second-round effort of 75.93m gave her the first world-leading mark of her career and added 1.03m to her previous personal best of 74.90m from the World Championships final last August.

Wang then hit the jackpot in round three, hurling a 77.68m throw, adding 69 centimetres to the Asian record and a huge 2.78m better than her pre-competition best.

After fouling her fourth try, she continued to show good form with a 76.33m effort in round five and 74.28m with her last attempt.

With just one athlete from any one country allowed to represent their area in each discipline at this year's IAAF Continental Cup, Wang now looks to be Asia's top pick for the hammer for this year's event in Marrakech in September.

Wang is now fifth on the world all-time list behind Germany’s world record-holder Betty Heidler (79.42m), Russia’s Tatyana Lysenko (78.80m), Belarus's Aksana Menkova (78.69m) and Poland's Anita Wlodarczyk (78.46m). All of this quartet have, at some point in their careers, been global champions.

World junior silver medallist Liu Shiying, 20, opened her season with a big first-round personal best of 62.72m in the javelin. This was only her second career 60-metre throw and a big 2.49m improvement on her 60.23m from the 2013 National Games.

Former Asian record-holder Li Lingwei, who threw 65.11m in 2012, was second with a 59.82m first-round throw and both athletes passed their five remaining throws.

Su Xinyue was the only woman to surpass the 60-metre mark in the discus, winning with 60.34m. 2011 world champion and 2012 Olympic silver medallist Li Yanfeng, who just recently returned from injury, had an unfortunate start to her season. The 34-year-old threw 63.91m last September, but today in Chengdu she injured herself on her first throw (just 37.33m) and did not throw after this.

Zhao Qinggang topped the men’s javelin with 76.33m, Wang Shizhu won the men’s hammer with a 72.67m throw and Wu Jian was best in the discus with 56.90m.

On he second day on Sunday (30), with competiions devoted to junior and youth athletes, some of China’s most promising teenagers underlined their medal chances at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene, USA, this summer.

In the junior women’s discus, Xie Yuchen started promisingly, winning with 54.31m. This is her second best career mark, only exceeded by her 56.34m mark which brought her the 2013 world youth title in Donetsk, Ukraine.

In the junior women’s javelin, Kang Qiyan smashed her personal best with a 54.98m throw.

Kang was ninth in Donetsk last season but has made good progress considering that her best mark in 2013 was only 50.41m, and with a 500g implement in comparison to the 600g javelin she was using in Chengdu.

In the boy’s discus, Zhang Xiangnan produced a world youth leading distance of 62.17m. Ding Yuanbo broke the national youth hammer record with his 5kg implement landing at 75.88m and Xiang Jiabo hurled his 700g javelin to a 74.13m world youth leading distance. Xu Xinying won the girls’ 3kg hammer with 65.84m.

Mirko Jalava for the IAAF