Medal Tally
Team China

Lao makes history with sprint title

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, November 22, 2010
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China's Lao Yi was thrilled to win the Asian Games' blue-ribbon event on Monday after clocking 10.24 seconds in the 100m, but he would have preferred to beat the national or Asian record to inherit the title of Asia's fastest man.

"I didn't expect to win, but it would have been nice to have run a personal best," said the 25-year-old. "I was kind of hoping to break the national record here."

Lao made his signature slow start in Guangzhou, then came from behind to derail the title bid of Saudi Arabia's Yasir Baalghayth Alnashri (10.26 seconds), with Barakat Al Harthi of Oman a further two-hundredths back for bronze.

"I had a slow start and then I sped up, which is my usual rhythm," he said. "I maintained a high speed later on and became more and more relaxed."

Despite his blistering pace, Lao, who now has his eyes firmly fixed on next year's World Championships, was 0.07 seconds shy of the Chinese record set 12 years ago by Zhou Wei.

His winning time was more than 2/10 of a second behind the Asian record of 9.99 set in 2007 by Qatar's Samuel Francis, who was disqualified in the semifinals for a false start.

Not that it mattered to Lao's Chinese fans, who hailed him as their champion this week but barely knew his name this time last year. At the Shandong National Games last year, he didn't take part in the 100m but competed in a relay event.

His great leap forward occurred this year at the National Championships in June, which he won in 10.21, the best result by a Chinese sprinter since 2003.

During the national trials for the Guangzhou Games, Lao recorded 10.31 to secure a berth on the squad after honing his strength.

"I suffered some injuries in previous years so I just focused on physical training for strength," he said. "The result at the nationals gave me a lot of encouragement and boosted my confidence to win here."

Lao will next compete in the first round of the 4x100m relay on Tuesday.

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