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Sprint stars shine on golden night for China
Last Updated: 2023-10-03 10:33 | China Daily
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Athletics undeniably stands out as one of the most popular sports categories at the Hangzhou Asian Games.
The diverse array of sports sees the athletes push the limits of fundamental human abilities, with the events' simplicity and easily understandable rules making them highly engaging.
Spectators can also appreciate the distinct physical attributes of the athletes participating in the various disciplines such as sprinting, long-distance running, high jump, long jump, and the throwing sports.
Among all the events, the most eagerly anticipated is the 100-meter sprint. The briefest, yet arguably most intense, race represents the pinnacle of human speed.
This is why the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium was packed with more than 40,000 spectators on Saturday night, as the quickest men and women on the continent gathered to contest the 100m finals.
Amid the deafening cheers of the home crowd, Chinese sprinter Ge Manqi clinched the women's 100m title in 11.23 seconds. Veronica Shanti Pereira of Singapore secured the silver medal, trailing by a mere 0.04 seconds, while Hajar Saad Saeed Saad Alkhaldi of Bahrain claimed the bronze in 11.35.
With Ge proudly waving the Chinese flag during her victory lap, the stadium descended into darkness, accompanied by the melodious notes of the song The Brightest Star in the Sky.
In that moment, every spectator turned on the flashlight of their phones and swayed their arms to the music's beat, transforming the stadium into its own twinkling firmament.
It was the very first Asian Games gold medal for the 25-year-old, and comes on the back of a particularly tumultuous 12-month journey, which has been punctuated not only by persistent injuries, but also the loss of her longtime coach, Liu Zhaoxu, who succumbed to a heart attack in November. His passing left a deep void in her life.
"Every time I question the sense of my life, every time I get lost in the dark, the brightest star in the sky, please steer my course to your side..."
As these lyrics reverberated through the stadium, they resonated deeply with Ge.
Liu, who had been mentoring Ge since 2011, was surely the brightest star in her sky.
"The moment I crossed that finish line, I knew I had made it. I believe he must have seen it, the promise I made to him. I fulfilled that promise, so I can say that I've achieved a great result here at the Asian Games," she said.
Her compatriot, Wei Yongli, who finished fifth in the final, embraced Ge excitedly after the race.
"We've both come a long way, constantly encouraging each other along the journey. I'm genuinely thrilled and moved for her," Wei said, tears glistening in her eyes.
The 32-year-old Wei, who secured the women's 100m gold at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games in South Korea, is the third female sprinter in Asian history to clock a sub-11-second time.
"I've already achieved the goals I set for my athletic career," she added. "Now, I just want to savor every competition."
"I had actually been considering retirement, but I persisted in order to participate in the Hangzhou Asian Games. However, this year's resurgence in form has given me the confidence to set my sights on the Paris Olympics next year," Wei continued.
While the elated audience was still reveling in Ge's victory, they were given even more to celebrate when Chinese sprinter Xie Zhenye triumphed in the men's final, clocking in at under 10 seconds.
With iconic Chinese sprinter Su Bingtian, 34, absent due to injury, Xie seized the opportunity to shine in the spotlight with a personal best of 9.97.
"Achieving a time of 9.97 seconds is a tremendous boost for me. It indicates that my form has returned to its prime," Xie said.
"In the preparation phase for the upcoming Paris Olympic Games, this result has instilled me with huge confidence.
"I aim to learn from Su, proving that age isn't an insurmountable obstacle," he added. "It may be a hurdle, but in competitive sports, we strive toward higher, faster and stronger. I've learned the Olympic spirit from Su, and I hope to pass on this spirit to many others."
Hailing from Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, Xie noted that the hopes, support and encouragement of people in his hometown have been a driving force for him.
"I'm very excited and happy to be able to do this today, in front of my home crowd. I've always wanted to break the 10-second barrier and I did it today," he said.
"It feels like my hard work has paid off and I've earned some recognition. I don't know how to describe how I feel right now. I'm very emotional. It feels like I'm now able to release the weight I've been carrying this year."
Xie won gold in the 4x100m relay at the 2014 Incheon Asiad and was a bronze medalist in the same event at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
The gold medal in Hangzhou is his first-ever individual title at an international sports gala.
"I've been to three Asian Games and I've not been able to win an individual gold medal," he said. "I have now, and I did it at home."

(Editor:Fu Bo)

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Sprint stars shine on golden night for China
Source:China Daily | 2023-10-03 10:33
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