The Chinese indoor season closed in Beijing with a two-day meet on Friday and Saturday. As was the case with the first indoor grand prix in Nanjing three weeks ago, male sprinters provided the highlights but this time with different athletes.
At that Nanjing meet earlier this month, Su Bingtian set a 60m national record with 6.55 while the country’s most promising young sprinter, Xie Zhenye, took the 200m national indoor record with a 20.93 clocking.
But in Beijing both of those athletes were absent and it was the Beijing-born and based athlete Zhang Peimeng who posted the fastest times over 60m and 200m.
The 26-year-old has taken his time to evolve as a top sprinter. He first showed great promise in 2007, clocking a 6.63 PB at the age of 20 before going on to register times of 10.27 for 100m and 20.74 for 200m later that year.
It took him four years to break these bests though, setting his current PBs of 10.21 and 20.64 at the 2011 Chinese Championships. But 2013 looks to be his latest breakthrough season as his indoor results are now much better.
On Friday Zhang clocked a 6.62 personal best in the 60m heats, following that with a 6.58 win in the final. With this result he is equal 20th in the world this season and equal second on the Chinese all-time indoor list.
Zhang further improved in the 200m on Saturday, running his first indoor 200m races since 2005. A 21.24 PB in the heats was followed by a 20.75 national record win in the final which takes him to No.10 in the world this season. With no other male sprinters of note at this meeting, Zhang won by more than a second. Fastest in the women’s 60m was Tao Yujia, who won the final in 7.32 season’s best.
London Olympic bronze medallist Gong Lijiao started her season at a high level as well. The 24-year-old grabbed the win in the Shot with a 19.88m toss which takes her to No.2 in the world this season. Liu Xiangrong, sixth in London last year, was second with a best throw of 18.50m.
Seventeen-year-old Wang Rong continued her season well and will be a strong medal favourite in Donetsk at the IAAF World Youth Championships in the summer. She won both the Long Jump and Triple Jump, equalling her PB of 6.43m in the former and following it with 13.74m in the latter. Earlier this month Wang set a World youth indoor best in the Triple Jump with 14.09m.
Nineteen-year-old Ren Mengqian won the Pole Vault with a 4.40m personal best, taking her to fifth on the Chinese indoor all-time list.
Another good men’s event was the Shot where the first five athletes set personal bests. The best Chinese putter at the moment, Wang Guangfu, won with 19.76m – a mark that has only ever been bettered by one other Chinese athlete indoors, Asian record-holder Zhang Jun (20.16m). Wang Like was second with a 19.52m PB and Guo Yanxiang was third with an outright PB of 19.48m.
The best Chinese long jumper, Li Jinzhe, grabbed another win with a 7.99m result, while the country’s No.2 pole vaulter of all time (5.75m this indoor season) Xue Changrui snatched an easy win in his event with a 5.40m clearance.
In the High Jump, 2007 World youth champion Wang Chen was victorious, clearing 2.24m – the same height as second-placer Wang Yu, one of only three Chinese men to clear 2.30m indoors; the other two being former World record-holder Zhu Jianhua (2.31m in 1986) and Zhang Guowei, who jumped a 2.32m national indoor record three weeks ago in Nanjing.
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF