Report01 Apr 2013

Zhang Wenxiu's Moscow medal mission starts in Chengdu


Zhang Wenxiu celebrates her win at the Asian Games (© Getty Images)

Many of China’s leading long throwers started their season in on home soil in Chengdu with some impressive results on Sunday (31), especially hammer thrower Zhang Wenxiu, who finished fourth at the London 2012 Olympics Games.

Now 27, she had an impressive start to the season with a 74.18m winning throw, the second best start to her season other than the 75.72m Asian record she achieved in this same meet last year.

Zhang has won an Olympic Games bronze in 2008 and two IAAF World Championships silver medals, in  2007 and 2011, so will surely be looking for another medal this summer in Moscow.

She might face some domestic competition in 2013 as well, with 25-year-old Wang Zheng throwing a personal best 72.46m on Sunday.

Wang has been quiet for a couple of seasons since reaching her previous best of 71.19m in June 2010. Coincidentally that meeting, in Chongqing, was the last time Zhang was defeated by a Chinese athlete and the latter has gone nearly three years without a loss in her home country.

In the women’s Javelin, London 2012 Olympic Games finalist Lu Huihui won with a toss of 63.47m, barely a metre less than her season’s best 64.48m in Chengdu two weeks ago.

Lu had not thrown over 60-metre line before the 2012 season but, since the start of last year, she has competed 13 times and thrown over that mark each time. In this competition, the Asian record holder Li Lingwei (65.11m in 2012) was second with 60.14m.

In the absence of the best discus throwers, Su Xinyue topped the women’s competition with a 59.05m season starter.

On the men’s side, 29-year-old Wu Tao from Liaoning returned to close to his best form and won with 60.08m, his first throw over 60 metres for almost four years. Wu’s personal best is 64.28m from 2005 and he is a former World junior champion from 2002.

The National Games later this year one of the main reasons that many athletes are raising their level and it’s also not a coincidence that many former bests or, in the case of Wu, good results were achieved four years ago.

The same happened in the men’s Hammer where for the first time in China two athletes reached 73 metres in the same competition with 25-year-old Qi Dakai added more than a metre to his 2009  best of 72.49m when winning with a throw of 73.34m.

Not far behind, 24-year-old Liaoning athlete Wang Shizhu had not beaten the 70 metres before this meet, but that changed here as Wang launched a 73.25m best for second place.

The National Games will be held in the Liaoning province for the first time in September 2013 and it’s not unusual that the athletes from the organizing province to try to be at their very best in front of their home crowd.

Mirko Jalava for the IAAF