Sports / China

High hopes for home success at Beijing world championships

By Lei Lei (China Daily) Updated: 2015-08-19 07:45

China's largest-yet team of athletes for world championships

Sending its largest-ever team to the IAAF World Championships, which will open on Aug 22 in Beijing, the Chinese track and field team is hoping for breakthroughs at the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest.

"I hope the Chinese team can do better than last time at the Bird's Nest," said Feng Shuyong, deputy director of the Chinese Athletics Association and head coach of the Chinese team.

High hopes for home success at Beijing world championships

The IAAF World Championships will be held in Beijing from Aug 22 through 30. WEI XIAOHAO/CHINA DAILY

The last time the Chinese track and field team competed in a major event at the Bird's Nest was the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, where the home audience saw Liu Xiang, the men's 110m hurdles defending Olympic champion, limp off the track. The Chinese track and field team collected only two bronze medals at the 2008 Olympics, with Zhou Chunxiu finishing third in the women's marathon and Zhang Wenxiu winning bronze in the women's hammer throw.

"You have many advantages competing on home soil but there is also huge pressure. Last time Liu Xiang was overburdened with excessive expectations. I think this time the athletes won't be under as much pressure," Feng said.

China unveiled its biggest squad yet for an athletics world championships, with 69 athletes, comprising 30 men and 39 women. They will compete in 34 events at the tournament in the Chinese capital. The event, which has attracted nearly 2,000 athletes from 207 nations and regions, will run from Aug 22 to 30.

China's medal hopes are pinned on the men's and women's race walking and the women's shot put, hammer throw and javelin. When Russia withdrew most of its race walking team from international competitions in the wake of a series of doping allegations, Feng said he saw a golden chance for China.

London Olympic champion Chen Ding and London bronze medallist Wang Zhen will vie for the men's 20km race title, while world record holder Liu Hong shoulders the hopes for the women's side.

Two-time world championship medallist Gong Lijiao will strive for a position on the podium in the women's shot put.

Other breakthroughs in men's jumping and sprint events are what Chinese athletics fans are eagerly hoping for.

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