Chinese javelin thrower Zhao Qinggang (© Getty Images)
Four Games records were broken – three of them by Chinese athletes – on Wednesday (9), the final day of athletics at the East Asian Games in Tianjin.
It brought to a close three days of action that had been dominated by Chinese athletes as the host nation won more than two thirds of the gold medals on offer. The Chinese women were particularly impressive, taking all but two of the titles.
Exactly one month after winning the National Games title, Zhao Qinggang added to his medal tally by winning the Javelin. His winning throw of 82.97m was the second-best mark of his career after the 83.14m he threw to win the National Games in September.
It also broke the Games record set by compatriot Li Rongxiang 12 years ago and maintained China’s winning streak in this event, dating back to the inaugural edition in 1993.
Chinese Taipei’s Huang Shih-Feng, the 2009 World youth champion, provided a stiff challenge and smashed his own national record with 82.11m, his first throw in excess of 80 metres.
Zhao wasn’t the only National Games winner to triumph in Tianjin. China’s Wu Shujiao improved on the PB she set when winning the National Games 100m Hurdles title last month, taking gold with a Games record of 12.93, the fastest time in the world this year by an Asian athlete. She finished more than a quarter of a second ahead of Japan’s Eriko Soma, who set a PB of 13.22.
Su successfully defends 100m title, Wei secures sprint double
World and Olympic semi-finalist Su Bingtian successfully defended his 100m title, but it did not come easily.
World University Games silver medallist Ryota Yamagata of Japan got off to a good start before Su reeled him in with millimetres to spare. The pair were both given the same time of 10.31 but Su was awarded the victory.
“I tried my best to run and gradually narrow the gap between us. Finally I won,” said Su, who set a PB of 10.06 earlier this year.
“This result is of course not my best, but after the National Games last month I didn’t have time for training. I felt that I could not gather all my energy this morning, but my coach said that my form looked better this afternoon before the final.”
Yamagata avenged the defeat the following day as he formed part of a winning Japanese quartet in the 4x100m, smashing the Games record in the process. He ran the first leg before handing over to 200m silver medallist Shota Iizuka, who then passed on to 200m champion Asuka Cambridge. 100m bronze medallist Kazuma Oseto brought the team home in 38.44, just 0.05 slower than their time from the World Championships final where they finished sixth.
China’s Wei Yongli took double gold in the women’s sprints, winning both the 100m (11.57) and 200m (23.71) with comfortable margins.
Jiang maintains Chinese tradition in sprint hurdles
Ever since the inaugural East Asian Games in 1993, China has won every gold medal on offer in the 110m Hurdles. Asian champion Jiang Fan ensured that record remained intact, although it came under serious threat from Korea’s Kim Byung-Jun.
Jiang won in 13.58, just 0.03 ahead of his Korean rival. China’s Ji Wei was also in contention for much of the race, but hit the last hurdle and had to settle for third place in 13.70.
“It was tough, but I told myself that I must win at home,” said Jiang. “China boasts the advantage in the men’s 110m Hurdles in Asia and we should never lose it.”
Liu Xiang, winner of the past three East Asian Games titles, was not able to defend his title. The former World record-holder has only just recently returned from an 11-month rehab programme in the US.
Aside from the men’s Javelin and 110m Hurdles, other events where China won a sixth successive gold medal were the women’s 800m, women’s 1500m, women’s 4x400m and the women’s Shot. The latter – won by Liu Xiangrong with 18.40m – was the only field event for women.
Elsewhere, the fourth Games record of the competition was set by Li Zhenzhu in the women’s 3000m Steeplechase with 9:53.17. World finalist Seito Yamamoto won the men's Pole Vault with 5.50m, and Cheng Wen clocked a season's best of 49.66 to win the men's 400m Hurdles.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF