Li Ling at the 2015 Asian Championships (© Asian Championships LOC / AAA)
China’s pole vault star Li Ling upgraded her own Asian record by one centimetre as she grabbed the sole gold medal for the hosts on the third competition day at the Asian Championships in Wuhan on Saturday (6).
The defending champion started at 4.20m but needed a second attempt to clear that height. After soaring past 4.40m to clinch the title, the 25-year-old cleared 4.55m before leaping 4.66m with her second try to beat her own Asian record of 4.65m set when winning at the 2013 National Games in Shenyang.
“After I set the record of 4.65m, I knew that, sooner or later, I will break it," said Li. "It was just a matter of time.
“If I am in good shape and everything goes well, I think I can further improve the Asian record in Beijing,” added the surprise winner of the 2014 IAAF Continental Cup. “The highest finish achieved by a Chinese female vaulter at the World Championships was fifth and I want to make history in August.”
Li’s gold medal was the only one won for China on Saturday after the hosts earned 10 titles during the previous two days in Wuhan.
By contrast, Bahrain took the lion’s share on Saturday, adding three gold and one bronze to their medal tally.
Double Asian Games champion Kemi Adekoya, who collected the women’s 400m and 400m hurdles in the Korean city of Inchon last year, maintained her dominance on the continental stage.
The 22-year-old powered to a world-leading PB of 54.31 to win over the barriers, improving her own national record of 54.59 and smashing the championship record of 55.63 set by China’s Huang Xiaoxiao in 2005.
“I took this competition as part of my training to prepare for the World Championships. My goal is to have a podium finish in Beijing,” said Adekoya, who chose to skip the 400m event in Wuhan.
Koech now aims high in Beijing
Her countryman John Koech is even more ambitious with his goal for Beijing. After winning the men’s 3000m steeplechase in 8:27.03, the 19-year-old Koech said his aim is to win the gold in August.
“The race was very tough but I managed to win. My aim for the World Championships is to win the gold medal,” said Koech, who improved his best to 8:14:75 at the Beijing leg of the IAAF World Challenge last month.
Qatar’s Hashim Salah Mohamed finished a distant second in 8:36.02.
Bahrain’s third gold came from 10,000m runner El Hassan Elabbassi, who won by a margin of almost a minute in 28:50.71.
“It was not easy for me because I competed in Eugene last week. And I feel really tired today,” said the 31-year-old, who finished seventh in 27:25.02 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting.
Indian athletes also managed to grab two golds on Saturday with Vikas Gowda retaining his discus title with 62.03m and Lalita Babar breaking her own national record to win the 3000m steeplechase in 9:34.13.
Korean triple jumper Kim Deokhyeon upset local favourite and Asian Games champion Cao Shuo to win the gold medal with his third-round effort of 16.86m. Cao finished second with 16.77m.
Japan’s Konishi Yuta took the men’s 400m hurdles title in 49.58 while Huang Shih-feng of Chinese Taipei won the men’s javelin with his fifth-round throw of 79.74m.
Qatari sprinter Femi Ogunode continued his solid form after breaking the Asian 100m record on Thursday, cutting 0.13 seconds from the 20-year-old championship record when winning his 200m semi-final in 20.28.
Vincent Wu for the IAAF