Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Sunday, November 18, 2001

Day 6 Roundup: Ma's Army Comes to Stage at National Games

The women's middle- and long-distance running team, known as "Ma's Army," started its gold-grabbing campaign here on Saturday when the medal-rich athletics of the Ninth National Games raised its curtain.


The women's middle- and long-distance running team, known as "Ma's Army," started its gold-grabbing campaign here on Saturday when the medal-rich athletics of the Ninth National Games raised its curtain.

Some members of the team, guided by the famous coach Ma Junren,had a smooth sailing into women's 1,500-meter final scheduled for Sunday.

But Lan Lixin, one of Ma's star proteges, was asked to quit the quadrennial event after her blood test returned abnormal result.

After the test result was announced Friday night, an official of the Liaoning delegation explained Saturday that since the Beijing Universiade in August, Lan has been taking a medicine which she thought would increase the calcium content in her blood.

A title hopeful for the famed Ma's Army, the 22-year-old finished runner-up at the 10,000m event at the previous national games in 1997 and crowned for both 1,500m and 5,000m races at the world junior championships the next year.

Despite her loss, Ma's Army, however, is still expected to be the dominant force in the national games, in particular in the women's middle- and long-distance running events.

The first and only athletics gold of the day went to Xu Zizou of the host, who stormed to take the men's 400m with a winning time of 45.72 seconds. The last shooting gold of the national games fell to an amateurshooter Lou Xiangwu, a policeman from Anhui Province. The 30-year-old upset a professional field to win the men's 50-meter free pistol 60-shot slow fire with a total of 663.1 points.

Barcelona Olympic champion Wang Yifu, world cup title holder Tan Zongliang, and world championship Xu Dan all became the victims of the upsets.

"I am an amateur, so I have nothing to lose, I just did my best," said Lou. Zhao Yinghui from Hebei Province won the women's 10m air rifle 40 shots with a total of 501.7 points.

The 20-year-old rising star failed to strike gold in the SydneyOlympics under the heavy expectation of producing China's first gold. "I finally come of age," said Zhao.

It was also the last day for fencing competition. Liaoning teambeat Jiangsu 41:29 to claim the women's epee team title for the last gold of the sport.

In the pool, unfancied Luo Nan stole the limelight by upstaginga field of big names, including the world record holder and world champion in the women's 200m breaststroke. The 15-year-old led from the start and stormed home in two minutes 24.76 seconds, edging Qi Hui, world record holder of the event by 0.04.

"I had not expected to win the title, so it is a surprise to me," said Luo. Both were considered to have clocked in the best time since the Fukuona World Swimming Championship held last July. In diving, world cup champion Guo Jingjing from Hebei province eased to the title of the women's three-meter springboard with a result of 639.99 points.

In Judo, Liaoning continued to demonstrate its power in the sport by winning two golds in women's 63kg and men's 81kg categories. Wang Haixia from Guangdong province powered her way totake the gold of the 70kg category, while the title of men's 90kg went to Xu Zhiming of Jiangsu.

The unknown gymnast Kang Xin from Beijing grabbed the individual women's all-round title. But her victory was not very impressive, as Qian Kui, former head coach of the Chinese women's national team, criticized that there had been no flash points so far during the on-going national games.

"There's nothing unique of our own and no new formation had been performed as far as I had seen," he said, adding that the women gymnasts' movements including the twisting ones were not up to the standard and regulations during the competition.

"No wonder they failed to be awarded with high marks," Qian said.

Six out of the eight finalists of the event had only managed toscore somewhere around 9.1 points during the qualification rounds,while the full mark is 10 points.

Kang Xin scored 37.649 points in the final, averaging 9.4 on each apparatus, which was considered not competitive in international contests.

The disciplinary authorities of the sports meet disqualified another athlete for failing doping tests on Saturday.

Zhou Xinrong, a woman rower from central China's Henan Province,who had won the quadruple sculls gold medal on Friday and the double sculls bronze medal on Thursday, were disciplined after theresult of her test showed that the presence of testosterone to epitestostrone (T/E) ratio was greater than six, which represents a violation of the anti-doping code.

The disciplinary commission and competition department of the games' organizing committee decided to immediately disqualify the rower from the games, her results was annulled and her medals withdrawn. The disciplinary authorities reiterated the determination to keep the games clean and fair.

The national games started on November 11 and will end on November 25. On Sunday, there will be 31 golds in nine events on offer.


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