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New Asian records boost China's confidence in Olympic walk race

( English.news.cn )

Updated: 2012-07-19

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Chinese top race walkers Wang Zhen and Liu Hong had their confidence highly boosted towards the London Olympics as they each shredded an Asian record in the 2012 IAAF Race Walking Challenge here in Taicang on Friday.

"I am now in a very good shape. The Russian walkers are very strong but I am not afraid of them. Instead, I have the confidence to beat them," said Liu Hong, who claimed 1 hour, 25 minute and 46 seconds to win the women's 20 kilometer race in the drizzle, smashing the ten-year-old Asian record of 1:26:22 set by her compatriot Wang Yan in 2011.

In the year of 2012, the Russian walkers showed a solid performance by clocking the top six fastest times this season. And Liu's title winning time on Friday turns out to be the second fastest behind Elmira Alembekova's 1:25:27. As the tournament also served as an Olympic trial for the Chinese team, the 24-year-old who finished fourth in 2008 Beijing Olympics is eying a better outcome in London this summer.

"I am expecting a better result in London than I had in Beijing four years ago," said Liu, who narrowly missed a podium position in Beijing and won a sliver in the Daegu World Championships.

"I am much more mature than four years ago, both mentally and technically. With so much experience piled up in international races and with the guidance of my Italian coach (Sandro Damilano), I am confident with my race in London."

The 20-year-old Wang Zhen, who finished fourth in his first major championships in the Daegu worlds last year, clocked 1:17:36 to win the men's 20km event, renewing the Asian record of 1:17:41 set by his compatriot Zhu Hongjun in 2005.

"I have been training hard in the winter, walking around 200 kilometers every week. Meanwhile, I have also been working on to polish my technique, especially the length of my stride," said Wang, who set a season leading 1:18:30 in the last edition of the tournament here.

The 19-year-old Chen Ding also proved his worth by finishing second in 1:17:40, also excelling to the previous Asian record and cutting a huge minute and 12 seconds off his previous personal best of 1:18:52.

Wang just missed Italy's Alex Schwazer's world leading time 1:17:30 and Wang and Chen now accommodate places second and third in the 2012 World lists behind Schwazer. Both of the two young walkers will be carrying on China's hope of a gold in men's 20km in London.

In spite of the record breaking feat from Liu and Wang, Chinese Athletics chief coach Feng Shuyong warned his players from being over-estimated.

"How to maintain their stability in major events has always been a problem for Chinese athletes," said Feng. "And sometimes the previous shining results might be a double-edged sword as athletes may not be able to stand the heavy expectation laid on them and collapse under huge pressure."

Feng's discretion was shared by China's Italian coach Sandro Damilano, who believe the Chinese players had the ability to charge for the Olympic gold but need to maintain their form and adopt proper tactics in order to achieve their goal.

"Now the most important thing for Chinese walkers is not further improving their times. Instead, they need to work on their stability," said the Italian guru. "It will be the position in the race, not the time, that decides the gold winner."