Cross-country runners in action (© Getty Images)
Team Gansu enjoyed the lion’s share as Zhang Xinyan swept both of the senior women’s titles at the Chinese Cross Country Championships which concluded on Saturday (28) in China’s southwest city of Qujing.
Zhang, who celebrated her 21st birthday earlier this month, clocked 28:13 to win the women’s 8 km event on Saturday, one day after she claimed the 4km title in 13:34.
Starting to compete in senior events in 2013, Zhang won the 1500m and 3000m steeplechase events at the National Grand Prix Zhaoqing meet in April 2014 and went on to collect the 1500m gold and steeplechase silver at the National Grand Prix finals in July.
The budding runner has already been included into the national training team and is expected to make a dent at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, Guiyang 2015 on 28 March.
Zhang’s teammate Wu Xufeng, a former national junior champion, finished as the runner-up in both events while local runner Fu Tinglian, national cross country champion in 2012, finished third in 14:00 in the 4km race.
Wang Jiali of Team Hebei, the 2010 Beijing Marathon champion and eighth-place finisher at the 2011 IAAF World Championships, clocked 28:58 to grab bronze in the 8km event.
Gansu’s Wang Ligang, 26, won the men’s 6km race in 19:03 thanks to his strong home-stretch sprint. Local runner Du Jianrong lagged four seconds to finish runner-up. Defending champion Yang Dinghong, winner of the 2014 Wuyishan Half Marathon, finished third in 19:14.
The 23-year-old Zhu Renxue was six seconds adrift to miss a podium finish in the 6km race but the Shuifu Half Marathon runner-up successfully defended his 12km title in 38:28. The silver medal went to Yang in 38:37 while 6km winner Wang was five seconds behind to take the bronze.
The two-day tournament in China’s Yunan Province also included four junior and two youth events. The hosts enjoyed a comfortable dominance in the junior races. Zhang Deshun led a 1-6 finish for Yunan in the junior women’s 4km event in 13:50 before building up a 55-second advantage to win in the 6km category, which witnessed another podium sweep for the hosts.
In the junior men’s 8km race, Yunnan’s Zong Qinghua claimed the title in 25:46 while Wang Wei of Shaanxi outraced six local runners to win the 6km gold with Zong finishing second.
Guizhou’s Luo Chun clocked 20:28 to win the youth men’s 6km and Gansu’s Tian Wanhua beat her teammate Wang Meiying to win the youth women’s 4km event.
A total of 207 runners competed at the Chinese Cross Country Championships including the 32 members of the country’s national training team preparing for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
The Chinese Athletics Association will soon release its squad for Guiyang and the results at the national championships will be a major consideration in team selection.
Vincent Wu for the IAAF