Report28 Apr 2024

Chinese sprinters excel at Asian U20 Championships


Zeng Keli wins the Asian U20 100m title (© Edwin Koo / Asian Athletics)

Seven championship records were improved at the Asian U20 Championships in Dubai, which concluded after four days of action on Saturday (27).

Chinese sprinters erased two long-standing championship records en route to their 100m victories. Seventeen-year-old Zeng Keli stormed to a 10.15 (1.7m/s) clocking in the men’s semifinal, breaking the championship record of 10.26 that had stood to Li Tao since 1986. He also took 0.03 off the Chinese U20 record.

Zeng’s late reaction from the blocks in the final cost him a bit of time, but the Asian U18 200m silver medallist was still able to overtake two athletes from Hong Kong, China, Chan Yat Lok and Kwok Chun Ting, at the halfway mark to take the title in 10.19 (0.4m/s). Chan (10.41) and Kwok (10.46) took the other two spots on the podium.

In the women's race, 15-year-old Chen Yujie struck gold in 11.32, taking 0.10 off the championship record set 30 years ago by Sri Lanka’s Damayanthi Dharsha, and setting a Chinese U18 best in the process. Like Zeng, Chen also had a late start but managed to beat Vietnam's Tran Thi (11.40) to the line, while Misaki Morimoto of Japan was a distant third in 11.79.

Wumaier Ailixier was another athlete to take down a Chinese age-group record en route to a championship record in Dubai. He won the 400m in a national U20 record of 45.53 – also elevating him to fourth on the senior Chinese all-time list – to break the championship record by 0.26. China's Li Yiqing (46.61) and India’s Aman Choudhary (47.53) filled the next two places on the podium.

Japan’s Orita Sota timed his finish well to win the men’s 5000m in 14:08.71. He ran alongside compatriot Iida Kaito for most of the way, tucked behind Indian duo Vinod Singh and Gaurav Bhosale before unleashing his kick finish on the final lap. Singh (14:09.44) and Kaito (14:09.63) took silver and bronze with all three medallists bettering the previous championship record.

Abakar runs world U20 lead in sprint hurdles

One year after taking the silver medal, Qatar’s Oumar Abakar claimed gold in the men’s 110m hurdles. After a conservative start, he drew level China's Chen Yuanjiang after 60 metres and it was only coming off the final hurdle that Abakar was able to edge ahead into the lead.

The 19-year-old won in 13.24 (1.2m/s) with Chen finishing just 0.02 behind for the silver medal. Both athletes bettered the previous championship record (13.33) and the world U20 lead (13.27).

Pole vaulter Seifeldin Mohamed Abdelsalam was another Qatari athlete who excelled on the penultimate day of competition. He successfully defended his title with 5.51m, adding a centimetre to his own championship record. Japan's Yoshida Rikuya claimed silver with 5.25m and India’s Dev Kumar Meena earned bronze with 5.10m. 

Another championship record fell to Chinese athletes on Friday evening as their quartet claimed the mixed 4x400m title.

India and defending champions Sri Lanka were considered the pre-event favourites, but China came through to triumph in 3:22.46 from India (3:24.86), both teams finishing inside the previous record of 3:25.41.

China regained the top position in the medals table with 15 gold, 9 silver, and 3 bronze medals. Japan was second (8-5-8), just ahead of India (7-11-11).

Hong Kong will host the next edition of the Asian U20 Championships in 2026.

Ram. Murali Krishnan for World Athletics