Record-breaking Xie daring to dream

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China's Xie Zhenye is all smiles after winning the men's 200m at Sunday's Diamond League meet at London Stadium. Xie won with a time of 19.88 seconds, becoming the first Asia-born athlete to break the 20-second barrier over the distance.

Sprinter Xie Zhenye says his historic 200m victory in London is a dream come true-and he's targeting more glory at the upcoming world championships and the Tokyo Olympics.

On Sunday, the 25-year-old from Shaoxing in Zhejiang province became the first Asia-born athlete to break the 20-second barrier in the 200 by clocking 19.88 seconds to beat Britain's Miguel Francis (19.97) on the London stop of the IAAF Diamond League.

The victory improved Xie Zhenye's personal best by 0.18 sec and cut 0.09 sec off the Asian record, previously held by Nigeria-born Qatari Femi Ogunode.

"It's always been my dream to become the first Asian-born athlete to break the 20-second barrier over 200m," said Xie Zhenye, who clocked 9.97 seconds in the 100m in France last year.

"Today I finally made it. Thinking back on all the effort that I've made, it's been worth it. I must thank the team that has been supporting me.

"I also want to thank the Chinese Athletics Association that has been creating a better and better training environment for our athletes to allow us to have more chances to compete abroad.

"I love this track. I just told myself to go fast. This gives me a lot of confidence for the world championships."

Along with Asian 100m record holder Su Bingtian, Xie Zhenye is considered one of China's best medal shots at September's world championships in Doha, Qatar.

Afterward, he paid tribute to Su, saying: "I hope to encourage more Chinese sprinters just like big brother Su Bingtian, who inspires me.

"When Su Bingtian became the first Asian-born athlete to break the 10-second barrier in 100m, my generation of Chinese sprinters was deeply encouraged.

"I planted the seed of the dream at that time. I told him that I wanted to become the first Chinese to break the 20-second barrier in 200m."

Su reciprocated, describing his teammate's feat as "incredible".

"I remember he told me about this dream in 2015, and four years later he made it. Congratulations!" added Su, who showed good form earlier this year by refreshing the Asian indoor 60m record.

Xie Zhenye's new record became one of the hottest topics on Chinese social media over the weekend, with over 10 million views by Monday morning.

However, such excitement was almost unthinkable some months ago for Xie Zhenye, who had been sidelined by injuries since last July.

He made his competitive return at the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha in April, but is still concerned about his fitness ahead of the worlds and Olympics.

"I felt so bad that I missed the Asian Games last year because of the injury," said Xie Zhenye.

"I have also been worrying that my injury could influence my performance at the world championships this year and the Olympics next summer.

"I've been trying my best to reduce the negative influence of my injury on future competitions. I believe the victory in London is a turning point."

There was more joy for China at London Stadium on Sunday when Xie Wenjun won the 110m hurdles in a photo finish ahead of Wilhem Belocian of France.

Both were credited with times of 13.28 seconds, with the Chinese just 0.005 faster. Olympic champion Omar McLeod of the United States finished third in 13.32.

"I'm always excited to perform in London, but I'm not too satisfied with my time of 13.28," said Xie Wenjun. "This was down to my start not being up to the standard I'm used to, although I did manage to catch up after a few hurdles."

Xie Wenjun has never quite managed to live up to expectations as a possible successor to China's former Olympic and world champion Liu Xiang.

However, the 29-year--old Xie Wenjun, who considered retiring after last year's Asian Games in Jakarta where he won gold, is not giving up on his dream of a medal in Tokyo next year.

"I will spend more time in training to further improve my performance. There are more personal bests waiting for me," he said.

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