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China head to Worlds with low expectations
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Due to the absence of men's 110m hurdles reigning World Champion Liu Xiang, China's medal expectations at the World Championships in Berlin are slight. The young Chinese delegation's best hopes for a podium finish appear to be in race walking and the women's throwing events.

The injured Liu has been forced to miss the Worlds this year to rehabilitate his injured right Achilles tendon, which destroyed his Beijing Olympic dream. With Liu out, Chinese hopes in the hurdles rest with his understudy Shi Dongpeng, Ji Wei and the improving Yin Jing.

Shi finished fifth at the 2007 World Championships while Ji is considered China's No 3 in the event behind Liu and Shi.

China head to Worlds with low expectations

The 21-year-old Yin achieved his personal best of 13.38 seconds at the Univerisade last month, which was the best time for a Chinese hurdler this year. However, their times are unlikely to lead them to the podium like Liu, who earned the only gold medal for China at the last World Championships in Osaka in 2007.

"My goal is to reach the final and I don't care much about the time," said Ji, who will make his World Championships debut.

Considered the biggest hope to fill Liu's void, Yin believes the World Championships will help him to mature as an athlete.

"I have no exact goals this time but I will try to improve," said Yin, who is also a Worlds debutant. "I want to know how big a difference there is between myself and the world's top hurdlers."

Women's discus thrower Song Aimin and Gong Lijiao in the shot put have fair chances of success as Song is ranked third on the IAAF list and Gong is fifth. Olympic women's hammer throw bronze medalist Zhang Wenxiu will also bid for a medal in her event.

Officials say they are using the event to blood youngsters in preparation for the London Olympics in 2012.

"It will be a tough championships for us this time," said Feng Shuyong, vice-director of China's Athletics Administrative Center, adding that even in the marathon, in which China has previously been competitive, the team now has no-one of note.

"Zhou Chunxiu and Zhu Xiaolin used to be athletes who could compete for the gold medal in the marathon but due to their age and injuries they have lacked training in recent years," he said.

Zhou claimed a silver for China at the 2007 Worlds and a bronze at the Beijing Olympic Games but is not near peak form. She finished a disappointing 12th at this year's London Marathon, two years after winning the event.

On the men's side, Wang Hao, whose results currently rank him third on the IAAF list, will lead China's race walkers in the 20km. Besides Wang, teammates Chu Yafei and Li Jianbo are ranked eighth and 11th respectively.

(China Daily August 14, 2009)

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