Saturday, 10 May 2008 Led by Liu, Chinese take the spotlight in the Osaka chill and rain – Osaka Grand Prix
Lui Xiang’s 2008 debut in Osaka (Takashi Ito (Agence Shot))
With the Beijing Olympics only three months away, Chinese athletes showed at the Osaka 2008 Grand Prix that they are getting ready for the Games.
Liu Xiang (110mH), Zhang Wenxiu (women’s Hammer Throw), Huang Xiaoxiao (women’s 400mHurdles), Li Meiju (women’s Shot Put), Song Aimin (women’s Discus Throw), Hu Kai (men’s 100m) and Liu Xiaosheng (men’s 400m), all won their specialties. In fact, Liu, Zhang, and Huang completely dominated their event.
Xiang remains unbeaten in Osaka
Despite the steady rain and head wind (-0.1m/s), Liu, the defending Olympic champion, won as expected in 13.19 by nearly half a second. His teammate Shi Donpeng finished second, 0.44 seconds behind in the World record holder.
“I have run seven times in this race and never lost here,” said Liu, who took the lead almost immediately. “I hope to run here again next year. As for the Olympics, since I already won in Athens, I don’t have excessive pressure on me.”
The Chinese women completely dominated the throwing events. The Asian record holder Zhang Wenxiu threw the hammer 73.52m, a meet record, with her fifth attempt to win the women’s Hammer Throw. Li Meiju threw 18.46m on her second and sixth attempts to win the women’s Shot Put, while Song Aimin won the women’s Discus Throw with a 60.38m effort.
Huang Xiaoxiao completely dominated the women’s 400m Hurldes. Taking the lead by the middle of the back-straight, Huang won the race by more than two seconds in 55.22. In the men’s 400m, Liu Xiaosheng nipped Sanjay Ayre of Jamaica at the finish line clocking 45.90.
Recovering from poor start, Jeter takes comfortable 100m win
The World Championships bronze medalist Carmelita Jeter, despite a less than perfect start, took the lead mid-way through the race to win the women’s 100m in 11.30.
“I was just hoping for the win with no injury,” Jeter said. “It is great to be back in Osaka. Winning the bronze was a great achievement for me.” Her goal for this season?
“Definitely to run under 11 seconds. I was planning to do it here, but the weather was really bad and I did not get a great start.”
Japanese national record holder Chisato Fukushima was third in 11.56.
“I did not tie-up when passed by the bronze medalist, so I think it was good,” said Fukushima, who led until middle of the race.
Like Huang in women’s 400m Hurdles, Kenji Narisako completely dominated the men’s race. His winning time of 49.00 may not sound very good, but he was the only one to crack 50 seconds.
“My plan wass to run aggressively from the start. I am looking forward to a showdown with Dai Tamesue,” Narisako said.
Taking the lead in the middle of the home-straight, Mary Wineberg, who was eighth in the World Championships last year in this stadium, won the women’s 400m in 51.52.
“I am not happy about a time, but very happy to win,” Wineberg said. “Now I have confidence to run well in better conditions.”
Japanese record holder Asami Tanno finished third in 52.55. “I think it was good to run in mid-52 seconds under such bad conditions.”
Taking the lead in the middle of the final home-straight, Yuriko Kobayashi won the women’s 1500m in 4:13.96.
“It was not a very fast time, but the race conditions were not good,” said Kobayashi, referring to the chilly (temperature of 12.5C at 3PM) and rainy conditions.
Chilly rain hampered most of the performances. Avoiding injury was also a common theme among the athletes.
Vadim Devyatovskiy won the men’s Hammer Throw, but he only threw 78.41m with his final throw. “My concern today was how to avoid injury.”
Kumiko Ikeda won the women’s Long Jump as expected, but only with a 6.46m leap. “The rain did not bother me, and I was able to check all the technical points, so it was good.”
Naoyuki Daigo won the men’s High Jump with a third attempt clearance of 2.18m. After going under the bar at 2.21m, Daigo decided not to jump any further. In the men’s Long Jump, Daisuke Arakawa jumped 7.77m in the second round, enough for the win.
Brad Walker won the Pole Vault with a second attempt clearance at 5.40m, his opening height, while Russ Buller was second with 5.30m. No other vaulter cleared that height.
“Because of the weather, I just concentrated on winning, and flying home without injury,” Walker said. Dana Ellis won the women’s Pole Vault with a 4.20m clearance.
In somewhat of an upset, Hitoshi Saito, who came into the home-straight in the lead, held off Shinji Takahira by 0.01 seconds in the men’s 200m with 20.87. “I want to crack “A” standard before the nationals,” said Saito after the race.
In a four-man blanket finish, China’s Hu Kai won the men’s 100m in 10.54. The second, third and fourth place finishers were given the same time of 10.55. Shingo Suetsugu, who was given the nod for second, said, “It was my first race, so I made sure not to injure myself.”
Ken Nakamura with assistance from Akihiro Onishi in Osaka
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