Sun Yingjie running at the 2002 Boston Marathon
BusanJust when it looked as if China might be struggling to re-establish themselves in the women’s track events 23-year-old Sun Yingjie came up with a distance double of the highest merit. She won the 5000 metres in the Asian Games athletics programme on Saturday with the most commanding display shown by anyone so far in five days of competition.
The 5000m gold will go alongside the 10,000m title, which Yingjie won earlier at these championships, in 30:28.26.
Today, there was no challenge to the Chinese, no cat and mouse game, no chase worth the name, no `kick’ to talk about. Instead, Yingjie, a marathon runner who was lying below the Japanese in season’s rankings in both the distance events on the track, just speeded up past the 1000m mark to leave the rest hopelessly behind.
Her winning time of 14:40.41 was the fourth fastest in the world this year, as the top six bettered the Games record set by Indonesian Sutono Supriati in 1998, when the event was introduced in place of the 3000m.
In that race, four years ago in Bangkok, India’s Sunita Rani had chased the Indonesian down the straight for a gallant silver, but today, the Indian as well as the others including Japanese Kayoko Fuushi and Yohsiko Ichikawa realised that any chase would be futile.
When Yingjie hit the front with nine and a half laps remaining, after having reached the 1000-metre mark in 2:59.30, she quickly built up a 30-metre gap from Japan's Fukushi and Chinese team-mate Xing Huina. With four laps to go, that lead had widened to about 80 metres, though Fukushi had by then clearly established herself as the sole contender for the silver.
In the end, Yingjie was nearly 100 metres ahead of Fukushi, with Sunita, who had overtaken a tiring Xing Huina with about three and half laps to go, coming in third a further 100 metres down. Fukushi (14:55.19) and Sunita (15:18.77) posted National records while Sun Yingjie was the 14th fastest on the all-time lists. She was the eighth fastest woman with her 10,000m timing. This must be one of the rare doubles, when a runner has clocked such excellent timings in both events.
“The conditions were ideal,” said Sun Yingjie about the temperatures that were hovering around 18 degrees Celsius.
China had missed both the women’s distance gold medals in the Asian Games four years ago, while here Sun Yingjie’s efforts apart, there had been just one other track gold for their women, by Feng Yun in the high hurdles.
Interestingly, Sun Yingjie has also been entered for the marathon but it is doubtful whether she would compete. She had a 15:32.00 as her previous best for the season for the 5000 metres, while for the marathon she has clocked a 2:27:26 , for her fourth-place finish in Boston. The North Korean Ham Bong Sil who won the distance double in the Colombo Asian meet in August, has only been entered for the marathon here.
The surprise of the day was the men's 1500m gold for Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi, that country’s second gold in the competition, the first having been taken by Mohammed Rashid in the 800 metres.
The silver winner at the Colombo meet, Ramzi, by his own admission was not one hundred per cent fit and might have been considered good for a medal only. But in a slow race, so badly misjudged by Asian champion Abdulrahman Suleiman, Ramzi had the `kick’ from a little over 100 metres, to conquer the field. His winning time of 3:47.33 was the poorest in many years at this level, and the Bahrain runner, of Moroccan origin, felt that the others looked unprepared for the race.
Suleiman kicked early, from more than 200 metres away from the finish, but he did not have a second `kick’ when Ramzi came up with his, coming into the home straight. Japan’s Kazuyoshi Tokumoto and Fumikazu Kobayashi, who were expected to give Suleiman some fight, also failed. But two Chinese youngsters, 19 year-old Dou Zahobo and 17 year-old Li Huiquan, the bronze winner in the 800 metres, performed beyond expectations, coming second and third respectively. These were only the second and third medals for China in this event in the Asian Games, after the silver by Mu Weiguo in 1994.
China also picked up the gold medals in women’s Hammer and men’s Javelin, though both were expected. Gu Yuan, the continental record holder, reached 70.49 on her fourth attempt for the hammer gold, with team-mate Liu Yinghui winning the silver with 66.73.
In a keen men’s javelin contest, Li Rongxiang, the leader in Asia this season, went up to 82.21 metres on his second attempt. Japanese Yukifumi Murakami was just three centimeters clear of Uzbek Sergey Voynov, who opened with a 78.74, then had four fouls before rounding off with a 77.66. A large batch of Uzbek athletes, drums and all, kept up a huge din to goad Voynov on, to no avail as it turned out. Murakami was no better when it came to fouls, opening with 78.77, then a 77.23, three fouls and a pass.
Saudi Arabia’s Taher Hussein Al-Sabee won the long jump gold with a second-round jump of 8.14 metres. Al-Sabee now has two Asian titles to go along with this gold. Chinese Li Dalong came up to 7.99 for silver on his fourth jump, while Qatari Abdullah Al Waleed took the bronze with just 7.80.
China has 11 gold medals and India and Saudi Arabia six each, with one day of the main competition and the men’s marathon on closing day left.
By an IAAF Correspondent
1500m:1. Rashid Ramzi (Brn) 3:47.33, 2. Dou Zhaobo (Chn) 3:48.51, 3. Li Huiquan (Chn) 3:48.55.
Long jump:1. Taher Hussein Al-Sabee (KSA) 8.14, 2. Li Dalong (Chn) 7.99, 3. Ibrahim Abdullah Al-Waleed (Qat) 7.80.
Javelin: 1. Li Rongxiang (Chn) 82.21, 2. Yukifumi Murakami (Jpn) 78.77, 3. Sergey Voynov (Uzb) 78.74.
5000m:1. Sun Yingjie (Chn) 14:40.41, 2. Kayoko Fukushi (Jpn) 14:55.19, 3. Sunita Rani (Ind) 15:18.77.
Hammer:1. Gu Yuan (Chn) 70.49, 2. Liu Yinghui (Chn) 66.73, 3. Aya Masumi (Jpn) 62.18.