Chinese athletics picks up the pace

By SHI FUTIAN in Hangzhou | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-10-06 09:39
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China's He Jie reacts as he crosses the finish line to win the men's marathon at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou on Thursday. He won in two hours, 13 minutes and two seconds to claim China's first-ever men's marathon gold at the Asiad. AP

Rise of new generation of talents sees host nation reassert dominance of Asian track and field at Hangzhou Games

Pocketing 19 gold, 11 silver and nine bronze medals, the Chinese track and field team once again proved its dominance at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou. And with Team China's veteran stars still in their prime, a number of breakthrough performances by a younger generation of athletes bodes well for the future.

Team China's final athletics triumph at the Hangzhou Asiad was He Jie's victory in the men's marathon — China's first-ever gold in the event at the Asian Games. The historic moment captured the imagination of fans on social media, with the hashtag "He Jie wins marathon gold" viewed over 20 million times on Weibo within just two hours of his victory.

"Before the start of today's race, I just told myself, even if I fail to win gold, I must show the spirit of Chinese athletics. Our entire team prepared well for the Asian Games, and we managed to win this gold. The Hangzhou Asian Games are just a start for us. I believe we'll make more breakthroughs in the future," said the 24-year-old, who clocked 2:13:02.

He Jie's coach, Xiao Li, reckons the win is hugely significant for Chinese long-distance running.

"I'm absolutely thrilled, because we made history for Chinese marathon running. We talked about if we could achieve a miracle, and we did it. It has not been easy for our team and we have been under some pressure. We didn't even know how to celebrate because this truly is a surprise.

"But after a few days of joy, as we always say, we need to start from zero again and move on to our next goal. Bigger tests await, especially with the Paris Olympics coming next summer."

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