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Glorious gifts for the motherland

China Daily | Updated: 2019-10-08 09:21
China's Liang Rui celebrates after winning the women's 50km race walk at the 2019 athletics world championships in Doha on Sunday. [Photo/Xinhua]

China's medal winners at Doha worlds dedicate feats to nation's 70th birthday

Team China marked the nation's 70th birthday in style as patriotic pride spurred its athletes to glory at the IAAF World Championships in Doha last week.

A nine-medal haul, consisting equally of three gold, silver and bronze, was China's best performance at the championships in 20 years.

All who stood on the podium for China were in agreement that thoughts of the National Holiday and 70th anniversary celebrations back home had imbued their feats with extra significance.

"The race had a special meaning for me because it was held just before National Day," said former world record holder Liang Rui, who led a Chinese one-two finish along with Li Maocuo in the women's 50-kilometer race walk on Sept 29.

"This victory is a birthday gift from me for my homeland."

A day later, Olympic gold medalist Liu Hong and her teammates Qieyang Shijie and Yang Liujing swept the 20km race walk medals.

"Even before we came here, the team was confident of retaining the 20km title before National Day, and the only question was who would win it. Every one of us wanted to win the gold medal to pay tribute to our country," said 32-year old Liu, who returned to action in early 2019 after more than two years of maternity leave.

Liu Hong, Qieyang Shijie and Yang Liujing celebrate sweeping the 20km race walk medals at the 2019 athletics world championships in Doha on Sept 30, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

"This is the third time I have won at the world championships. I am very pleased that I won this time because tomorrow will be the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Winning all three medals, this achievement is our gift to our motherland."

Hours before first light was shed on a sleepless Beijing as the capital prepared to stage a grand military parade and mass pageantry at Tian'anmen Square, sprinter Xie Zhenye was writing a piece of athletics history.

The 26-year-old became the first Chinese man to qualify for a 200m final at the worlds.

"Yes, I created some history. I did my best today and I am proud of myself, especially on this day," said Xie, who qualified third-fastest in the semifinals.

He went on to finish seventh in the final on Tuesday night, when 6,000km away the National Day celebrations culminated in a spectacular fireworks displays in Beijing.

Asian record holder Xie is confident he can make further strides at next year's Tokyo Olympics.

"I believe I have gone through the most difficult process, running in the strongest heat and in the inside lane in the final. I took this as a test and a learning opportunity for next year's Olympics," he said.

"Everyone on the team was trying to keep it steady this year because our bigger goal is Tokyo."

As the National Day celebrations drew to a close, many people's attention turned to travel, with a mind-boggling 542 million domestic tourists generating 453 billion yuan ($64 billion) in revenue.

For anyone who elected to stay at home and relax, shot put star Gong Lijiao provided yet more cheer on their TVs.

The defending champion retained her title on Thursday by fending off a strong challenge from Jamaica's Danniel Thomas-Dodd, eventually grabbing gold with a throw of 19.55 meters.

But, possessing a personal best of 20.43m, Gong was not completely satisfied with her day's work.

"I'm so happy to win but the result was well below my expectations," said the 30-year-old.

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