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Athletics review: China makes history at Asiad, but challenges remain ahead
Last Updated: 2023-10-07 10:09 | Xinhua
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HANGZHOU, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) -- China celebrated a record high 19 golds from athletics at the Hangzhou Asian Games, but considering the absence of some major rivals, China may still face a tough challenge at next year's Paris Olympic Games.

Having come into the Asiad with only two bronzes at the World Athletics Championships in August, China's comeback journey in Hangzhou was highlighted by breakthroughs on track and road. Marathon runner He Jie, also the national record holder, delivered a historic win in the men's marathon on the final day of the athletics, marking the first time that China topped the podium in the men's marathon on the international stage.

Days earlier, with Xie Zhenye and Ge Manqi storming to victory in men's and women's 100m respectively, China became the first delegation ever to take both golds in the blue riband events at Asiad.

Chinese sprinters also dashed across the line first in both men's and women's 4x100m relays. Xie and Ge, members of the relay squad, thus completed a golden double in Hangzhou.

"The men's team has been through a lot this year as we hadn't performed as we had wished, but we have constantly been making adjustments," said Xie after the relay final.

To prepare for the Asian Games, China's relay teams skipped the Worlds, where Japan, led by two-time men's 100m finalist Abdul Hakim Sani Brown, finished with an Asian-leading and world's fourth-fastest time of 37.71 seconds.

From that lineup, only Yuki Koike also competed at Hangzhou, where Japan was overtaken during the anchor leg by China's Chen Jiapeng.

"Hopefully I will be able to compete in Paris," said 21-year-old Chen.

The race walk has always been a stable contributor to China's medal count, and the hosts swept both golds and silvers in the men's and women's 20km, with Yang Jiayu defending her title and Wang Zhaozhao winning the fifth consecutive gold in the men's event for the host nation.

China also remained the leading force in the women's throwing events. 36-year-old Wang Zheng bagged her first Asiad gold in the women's hammer throw, while Tokyo Olympic champion Gong Lijiao and 2022 world champion Feng Bin were crowned in women's shot put and discus respectively.

The only women's throwing gold that China missed was the javelin throw, where Annu Rani of India won while Tokyo Olympic champion Liu Shiying settled for a fifth.

Despite the success the hosts achieved at the Asiad, challenges still lie ahead for China in Paris, as many winning results are far from the world's top level. Women's pole vault champion Li Ling, for example, won her consecutive third gold with a Games-record 4.63m. That result, however, would not even make the world's top 20 this year.

Japan ended up with only two golds along with seven silvers and eight bronzes. With several on-odds favorites absent from Hangzhou, however, a well-prepared Japan would still remain a strong contender in Asia and at future Olympics as well. Newly-crowned world champion Haruka Kitaguchi, for example, skipped the Asiad after winning the first Diamond League women's javelin title in September for Japan.

Bahrain ranked second on the medal tally with 10 golds, followed by India with six.

World medalists shone in Hangzhou. Winfred Mutile Yavi of Bahrain, the winner at the 2023 Worlds, completed a golden double by winning the women's 1,500m and 3,000m steeplechase, while India's Neeraj Chopra claimed the men's javelin on 88.88m. Ernest John Obiena of the Philippines, the Asian record holder and world runner-up, set a new Games record in the men's pole vault en route to his win.

(Editor:Fu Bo)

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Athletics review: China makes history at Asiad, but challenges remain ahead
Source:Xinhua | 2023-10-07 10:09
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