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Sunday, October 14, 2001, updated at 18:56(GMT+8)

China Sweeps Bejing Marathon Men's and Women's Top Three

Chinese runners made a clean medal sweep in the Beijing International Marathon Sunday morning in Beijing.

China's Gong Ke upset a number of experienced runners to win the men's title with a time of 2 hours, 10 minutes and 11 seconds. His teammate Li Aiguo held off a tough challenge from Wang Yonghua to finish second. Li clocked 2:10:25 to Wang's 2:10:26.

In the women's section, China's Liu Min, from Liaoning province, captured the women's title in 2 hours, 23 minutes and 37 seconds with an event-best time.

Liu had a tough battle against defending champion Wei Yanan and veteran Ren Xiujuan. Wei finished second in 2:24:02 and Ren round up in 2:24:22.

Liu, 19, said it is an unexpected success because it is her first big event.

"I didn't expect to win the title before the competition. It is my first marathon and first international race," Liu said.

The races also functioned as the marathon competition of the Chinese 9th National Games.

In the men's event, Japan's Sato Nobuyuki, pre-race favorite with a personal best 2:08:13, set the pace in the first 40 kilometers, with 12 runners hanging closely in the leading group but finished fourth in 2:10.32.

Gong Ke opened a big kick with two kilometers left and maintained his higher gear to the end. His previous personal best was 2:33:42.

The 23-year-old Gong said: "It is my first ever marathon event. I thought I should try out my full speed in the finishing sprinting of the race when I felt strength after 39 kilometers."

"My specialty is 5,000m and 10,000m at the track," Gong revealed.

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Chinese runners made a clean medal sweep in the Beijing International Marathon Sunday morning in Beijing.

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