China raises Olympic athletics medal hope

2008-07-29 06:47:37 GMT       2008-07-29 14:47:37 (Beijing Time)       Xinhua English

By Xinhua writers Liu Dan and Yu Zheng

BEIJING, July 29 (Xinhua) -- As hurdler Liu Xiang remains China's biggest hope for an Olympic athletics gold, a few Chinese women are expected to compete for medals at the Beijing Olympic Games.

Before Liu snatched his first Olympic gold in the 2004 Games, China had won only one men's athletics medal through Zhu Jianhua, who picked a high jump bronze in 1984.

Chinese women usually outperformed their male counterparts in Olympic track and field, which was proven by a record of four golds, three silvers and four bronzes.

Since Xing Huina, women's 10,000m defending champion, pulled out of the Beijing Olympics due to nagging injuries, the attention is now going to marathon.

Zhou Chunxiu, silver medalist in the World Championships last year in Osaka, Japan, has become a new hope.

The 29-year-old created her personal best of two hours 19 minutes and 51 seconds in 2006 in Seoul. In all the 12 international and domestic races she competed in since 2002, Zhou has won six.

Zhou will lead her fellow runners Zhu Xiaolin, Zhang Shujing and Chen Rong to challenge world record holder Paula Radcliffe of Britain, world champion Catherine Ndereba of Kenya and a few Japanese runners.

Wang Liping, China's 2000 Olympic gold medalist in the women's walk, agreed that marathon was Chinese athletics' only other gold hope.

As an Olympic advisor, Wang said Chinese walker Liu Hong was among medal hopefuls but not good enough for gold.

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