Gong Luying of China
Gong Luying collected one gold and two silver medals to capture the spotlight at the Chinese U18 Championships, which concluded in Nanchang on Thursday (20).
The three-day competition also doubled as the country’s trial event for the IAAF World U18 Championships Nairobi 2017. And the 17-year-old girl from China’s Zhejiang province took one medal on each of the competition days.
Gong clocked 11.83 to finish second in the preliminary round of girls’ 100m race on Tuesday morning, beating her previous personal best by 0.16. She went on to finish second in the final in the afternoon with a time of 11.98, 0.08 seconds adrift of winner Feng Lulu from Team Shaanxi.
Gong’s dominant performance in the long jump turned out to be the highlight of the competition on Wednesday. She leaped 6.24m in the first round, improving her PB by 13 centimetres, and in the fifth round she bettered her PB again to 6.35m, a winning mark that puts her on top of the 2017 world U18 list.
In fact, each of the four valid jumps she registered was beyond 6.20m and was good enough to secure the title. Her teammate Pan Youqi jumped 6.00m to take the silver medal.
In the girls’ 4x100m relay final staged on Thursday afternoon, the in-form Gong led Team Zhejiang to finish second in 47.03.
“I was really excited. After all, it is the first time for me to reach such a high level,” said a jubilant Gong, who only started regular training four years ago. “I will continue to train hard under the guidance of my coach, try to gain more experience and learn from others. Hopefully I can bring honour to my country in international competitions one day.”
Gong’s coach Zhang Renjie admitted her performances in Nanchang were beyond his expectation. But he also insisted that her success will not be a flash in the pan.
“She is the kind of an athlete that can often get excited and make breakthroughs in big competitions,” said Zhang. “She has good speed and normally she can jump between 6.10 to 6.20m. But 6.35m is kind of a surprise even for me.”
Boosted by Gong’s performance in the trials, Zhang has already set his eyes on building up for the World U18 Championships.
“If everything goes well, she will take part in the Asian Youth Championship in Bangkok, Thailand next month,” Zhang said. “As for the World U18 Championships, I would not lay much pressure on her. I just want her to feel what it is like to compete on big stages. And hopefully she can gain some useful experience.”
Apart from Gong, China’s throwers also registered two world-leading results in Nanchang. Beijing’s Yu Xiaotian heaved the shot put beyond 17 metres three times to win the girls’ shot put (3kg) with a world-U18-leading 17.32m. Cai Qing of Team Sichuan rallied to beat Zhang Jing of Zhejiang with her last round throw of 57.03m in the girls’ javelin (500g) event.
During the last edition of IAAF World U18 Championships in Cali, Colombia, China grabbed one gold, five silver and one bronze medals to finish tenth on the medal tally. Three of the total seven medals came in the jumps events and two in the throws with the other two medals notched by race walkers.
Vincent Wu for the IAAF