On track for success

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, July 5, 2024
Adjust font size:

As the Paris Olympics draw near, excitement is building for the athletics events, and Team China is hoping to build on a track and field purple patch — literally — on a newly laid, vibrantly colored Stade de France track.

China's track and field team is geared up and determined to outshine its impressive performance in Tokyo, where it clinched two golds, two silvers and two bronzes, setting numerous personal bests.

Now, with the Paris Games on the horizon, China is poised to make headlines in the women's shot put, discus, and men's long jump. The anticipation is also building as the Chinese sprint team prepares to shine on the global stage, aiming to turn its speed into Olympic glory.

As the defending champion in women's shot put, Gong Lijiao is set to lead the Chinese athletics team in Paris. Competing at her fifth Olympics, Gong is determined to defend her title.

At the Tokyo Games, Gong achieved a personal best of 20.58 meters, securing the gold medal. With an impressive record that includes Olympic, World Championship, Asian Games and National Games titles, as well as a top world ranking, Gong could have chosen to retire after her Tokyo triumph. Instead, she has decided to continue her journey, driven by the dream of one final victory.

This winter, the 35-year-old veteran has undergone a particularly grueling training regimen, intensifying her aerobic and physical conditioning to reach peak form just in time for Paris.

The path to defending her title will be challenging. Gong's best throw this season was 19.98 meters at a competition in Neubrandenburg in Germany in June. However, at the Glasgow Indoor World Championships in February, Canadian athlete Sarah Mitton won with a throw of 20.22 meters, and German athlete Yemisi Ogunleye took second place with a throw of 20.19 meters. Both will be formidable opponents in Gong's quest for second Olympic gold and a fourth medal overall.

"This is my fifth Olympic Games. Although I am very familiar with it, I am still doing my best to prepare. I want to produce a good performance at my fifth Olympics and leave no regrets behind," Gong told Shijiazhuang Daily, a newspaper in her North China hometown. "My goal is to always strive for the championship and to achieve my personal best."

For Gong, that means breaking the 21-meter mark. If she can achieve the feat in Paris, she will join just seven other female Olympians — and be the first to do it since Atlanta 1996.

Alongside Gong, discus thrower Feng Bin is a top contender for gold in Paris. At the National Athletics Championships on June 30, Feng clinched victory with an impressive throw of 67.21 meters.

Discus thrower Feng Bin is a top contender for gold in Paris. [Photo/Xinhua]

The 30-year-old has been remarkably consistent this year, achieving throws over 67 meters in six consecutive competitions.

Feng previously competed in the Rio and Tokyo Olympics, but did not reach the podium. She made headlines at last year's Hangzhou Asian Games, where she secured the gold medal with a record-breaking throw of 67.93 meters, shattering a 13-year-old Asian Games record.

As the champion at the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, in the United States, Feng's personal best stands at 69.12 meters. She has set her sights on surpassing 70 meters and capturing gold in Paris.

This season has seen fierce competition in the women's discus event. Cuban athlete Yaime Perez recorded a throw of 73.09 meters in April, while at the Diamond League event in Xiamen, Fujian province in April, Valarie Allman of the US broke the meet record with a throw of 69.80 meters to secure the win.

"There is definitely pressure, but it actually makes me more excited. I thoroughly enjoy competing against high-level international athletes, as it further enhances my performance and competitiveness," Feng said.

Up for the challenge

World long jump champion Wang Jianan is one to watch in Paris. XINHUA

In the jumping events, world long jump champion Wang Jianan is one to watch. The 27-year-old will compete in his third Olympic Games, determined to make the leap onto the Olympic podium.

Wang made his Olympic debut at Rio 2016, narrowly missing out on a medal by finishing fifth. He faced further disappointment at the Tokyo Olympics, failing to advance to the finals.

His redemption came a year later at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, where he won gold with a remarkable jump of 8.36 meters, earning China its first gold medal in any horizontal jumping event at a senior world championship.

"After this achievement, my goal is definitely to aim higher and farther. However, given my personality, I first need to understand and improve myself. Being competitive on the international stage is the most important thing," Wang said.

Last year, Wang defended his Asian Games title in Hangzhou with a jump of 8.22 meters. This season, he secured second place with a jump of 8.04 meters at the Diamond League event in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, in April.

"I believe the most important thing is to prepare well, cooperate with my coach and team, and make any adjustments that are needed," he said. "I hope to perform well in Paris and to make up for the disappointment in Tokyo," Wang added.

The women's 20-kilometer race walk has long been a powerhouse event for the Chinese team. This tradition of excellence dates back to the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where Wang Liping clinched the gold medal. The 2012 London Olympics saw an unprecedented sweep by Chinese athletes Qieyang Shijie, Liu Hong, and Lyu Xiuzhi, who won gold, silver, and bronze, respectively.

Liu continued her climb up the podium in Rio, winning the gold, and followed up with a bronze in Tokyo to complete the set.

As of now, China boasts 12 athletes, including Liu, who have qualified, while the final team roster is yet to be announced, there is no doubt that she will be among those striding toward the Paris podium.

Team China's sprinters are also looking to make their mark in Paris. Despite the absence of Su Bingtian, who famously ran 9.83 seconds in the 100 meters and helped secure a bronze medal in the men's 4x100m relay at the Tokyo Olympics, the men's sprint team remains strong under the leadership of Xie Zhenye.

In May, it clinched qualification for Paris at the World Athletics Relays in Nassau, the Bahamas. It demonstrated its prowess at last October's Asian Games, by overtaking the Japanese team in the final stretch to clinch the 4x100m gold.

Xie is not only focused on the relay, but will also compete in the men's 200m sprint. His ambitious goal is to make it into the final rounds across these events.

In the women's 100m hurdles, Wu Yanni and Lin Yuwei will carry the nation's hopes. Both athletes boast personal bests of 12.74 seconds, and are determined to achieve even greater results for China in Paris.

Follow China.org.cn on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from China.org.cnMobileRSSNewsletter