Host China wins first gold at Beijing athletics worlds

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Host China finally got a gold medal at the world athletics championships as world record holder Liu Hong won the women's 20km race walk title here in Beijing on Friday.

Liu, who claimed the gold with a time of 1 hour 27 minutes and 45 seconds, had her efforts paid off after winning world championships bronze in 2009, silver in 2011 and then another bronze two years ago in Moscow.

The gold also came as a big relief after the host has just collected three silver and one bronze medals in the first six matchdays at the worlds.

As host nation of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the Chinese have not won a gold medal at the Bird's Nest until Liu's breakthrough on Friday.

Liu's teammate and major rival Lyu Xiuzhi, who bettered the Asian record in March, won silver at 1:27.45 while Ukraine's Lyudmyla Olyanovska was third at 1:28.13.

"It has been difficult today because it is hot, and pressure is mounting after Chinese male athletes missed the race walk gold a few days ago. But I believe in myself and I think I deserve to win this match after I paid so much," said Liu.

"It's my fifth world championships and I finally realized my dream. Persistence is what has continued to push me forward," the 28-year-old veteran added.

In a breathtaking men's 110m hurdles final, Russian Sergey Shubenkov was almost flawless by clocking 12.98 seconds for the gold.

Jamaican Hansle Parchment claimed silver in 13.03 and Olympic champion and world record holder Aries Merritt of the United States had to settle for bronze in 13.04.

"I can't describe what I'm feeling now. I don't remember anything about the race. I heard the starting gun and then I opened my eyes and it's finished," said a jubilant Shubenkov, who's the 2013 world championships bronze medalist and two-time European champion.

"It's been hard three days, every race was tough and the final was the toughest. It was a challenge for everybody. I'm happy that our hard work all these years was not wasted," added the Russian.

Merritt, also the London 2012 Olympic Games gold medalist, has a kidney condition which will need a transplant early next week.

"I'm pleased with my time and my performance. I am looking forward to my kidney transplant. My sister will give me one kidney," Merritt said.

Elsewhere, Tianna Bartoletta of the United States won her second women's long jump world title after her 2005 triumph when she was just 19.

After years of only a half-hearted commitment to the event and focusing more of her attention on sprinting, she returned to serious jumping last year.

The American took the lead for the first time in the final when she jumped 7.14 meters with her last attempt, which brought her the title.

Danielle Williams won Jamaica's fourth gold as she claimed the women's 100m hurdles title in 12.57 seconds, a personal best, while women's 100m runner-up Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands won the 200 meters in a world championship record of 21.63.

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