China's 2020 vision sharpens focus on team discipline

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Zhang Guowei of China reacts after he fails his 2.26 height attempt during Men's High Jump Qualification on Day 8 of the 2017 IAAF World Championships at London Stadium in London, Britain, on Aug. 11, 2017. (Xinhua/Wang Lili)

With the goal to win more than two gold medals at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the Chinese Athletics Association (CAA) has urged national team members to focus on training and avoid distractions off the field.

Last week, China's star high jumper Zhang Guowei was suspended from all competitions by the CAA after the world silver medalist violated national team regulations.

According to a statement released by the association, the 27-year-old attended two commercial events, in late February and early March, without receiving permission from the team.

While declining to reveal the length of Zhang's suspension, the CAA is urging all athletes to learn from the disciplinary action and concentrate on preparation for the upcoming Doha IAAF World Championships and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

For Tokyo, the CAA has targeted "better results" than China's best-ever collection of two gold, two silver and two bronze medals in track and field events at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Meanwhile, Zhang has pledged to spare no efforts in his training while waiting for his suspension to be lifted.

"After talking with officials from the CAA, I can feel their care, concerns and expectations. Please don't worry. I will continue to train hard and give it all for my dream," Zhang said in a post on his social media account.

Zhang registered a personal best of 2.38 meters in 2015 when he won silver at the Beijing World Championships. He has struggled to find his form following a series of injuries and only made a season-best jump of 2.21m - nine centimeters short of the entry standard - for the worlds, which run from Sept 28 to Oct 6 in Doha.

Several other Chinese athletes have been enjoying success in the lead-up to Tokyo, including sprinter Su Bingtian, who dominated the 2019 indoor season with an eye to breaking the 9.90-second barrier in the outdoor season.

Javelin thrower Lyu Huihui, world shot put champion Gong Lijiao and race walker Qieyang Shijie all top their respective world rankings, and Olympic champion Liu Hong, who recently returned from a two-year maternity leave, set the world record in her first 50km race walk earlier this month.

The CAA has also reiterated its stern fight against doping, with the Supreme People's Court saying that the illegal manufacturing and sale of performance-enhancing substances could soon face criminal punishment in China.

"We will continue to gear up our anti-doping efforts to ensure all Chinese athletes at the Games are away from such scandal," said Tian Xiaojun, vice-president of the CAA.

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