Winfred Yavi on her way to winning the steeplechase at the Asian Games in Hangzhou (© AFP / Getty Images)
The ongoing Asian Games in Hangzhou saw four more Games records smashed on Sunday (1) and Monday (2) as Chinese athletes continued their gold medal harvest on home soil.
Yavi and Sable dominate steeplechase
World champion Winfred Mutile Yavi of Bahrain met barely no real threat in the women's 3000m steeplechase final on Monday. She comfortably retained her Asian Games title in 9:18.28, cutting more than 13 seconds off the previous Games record.
India’s Parul Chaudhary also beat the previous record to take the silver in 9:27.63. The bronze went to Priti, also from India, in 9:43.32.
"I had a lot of pressure from people telling me, 'you're going to win',” said Yavi. “But anything can happen, so I was careful and focused on trying to break the Asian Games record.”
It was the second gold medal for Yavi in two days as she also grabbed the 1500m gold on Sunday night in 4:11.65, winning by more than a second.
"It (winning two gold medals) means I’m capable of shifting to different events,” she said. “I don’t need to stay in the steeplechase for a long time. I can graduate slowly to different events. Maybe I’ll do 5km or 10km road races, and in the future maybe even a marathon."
India’s Avinash Mukund Sable clocked 8:19.50 to claim the men’s steeplechase gold on Sunday, improving the previous Games record of 8:22.79 set in 2018 by Iran’s Hossein Keyhani by more than three seconds.
The in-form Indian record-holder took pole position after just half a lap and confidently led the race at a relatively swift pace. He kept extending his lead, although slowed down a little bit in the last lap and started with his celebration on the home stretch.
“I was focusing on beating my personal best, but on the last lap I thought I'd better go for the gold,” said Sable. “And then I saw that I broke the record; I'm very happy about that.”
Games record for China’s Feng and Li
In the women’s discus, 2022 world champion Feng Bin sent her implement out to a winning mark of 67.93m in the opening round, smashing the Games record of 66.18m set back in 2010 by compatriot Li Yanfeng, also a former world champion.
Feng, who took world bronze in Budapest, went on to produce four more throws beyond 64 metres, each of which would be good enough to send her to the top of the podium.
China’s Jiang Zhichao took the silver with a personal best of 61.04m, the third PB this year for the 18-year-old, and the best throw in the world by an U20 athlete this season. India’s Seema Punia finished third with 58.62m.
“For the entire 2023 season, my performance and technique have remained in a relatively good state,” said Feng. “I hope to continue this form in next year. This gold medal at the Asian Games holds significant meaning for me. It also lays the foundation for me to strive for better results in the Olympic Games in Paris. 70 metres would be my goal for next year.”
Pole vaulter Li Ling has also set her eyes on the Olympics after winning her third Asian Games title in a row with a Games record of 4.63m, improving her own record by three centimetres.
She went on to take three attempts at 4.73m to challenge her own Asian record of 4.72m, but was unsuccessful eventually.
"Today my goal was not only to win the gold, I also hoped to set a PB," said Li. "Winning the gold medal is a great recognition of my training and preparation work for the year. I’m very happy with that. But on the other hand, there are still some tiny regrets. I hope in Paris I can do better.”
There was a rare case of a dead-heat in the men’s 110m hurdles final. Japan’s Shunya Takayama and Kuwait's Yaqoub Alyouha both clocked 13.41, and even their readings of photo finish were still tied at 0.409, so the duo shared the top of the podium while China's Xu Zhuoyi took the bronze in 13.50.
Elsewhere, the hosts maintained their gold-winning momentum. 2022 world champion Wang Jianan took the men’s long jump gold at 8.22m. Lin Yuwei clocked a PB of 12.74 to win the women’s 100m hurdles. Zheng Ninali, granddaughter of China’s former women's high jump world record-holder Zheng Fengrong, grabbed the heptathlon gold with 6149, and 19-year-old Xiong Shiqi achieved a PB of 6.73m to win women’s long jump gold.
Vincent Wu for World Athletics