China failed to win a gold on the final day of the 11th IAAF World Junior Championships in Beijing, but sports officials were still full of praise for the country's young stars.
Five gold medals, five silver and seven bronze was a record result, and a big improvement from the last edition of the Worlds in Grosseto, Italy, two years ago, when they won one gold, five silver and two bronze.
This was enough to please Feng Shuyong, deputy director of China's Track and Field Administration and head coach of the Chinese national team. "This is very good result," said Feng. "I didn't expect our young athletes to perform so well under pressure, but really they did very well."
China placed second in the overall standings behind Kenya, who pocketed six gold, six silver and three bronze. This time, they even edged out powerhouses including Russia, Jamaica and the United States.
The highlights included China's first ever high jump gold in an international tournament by Huang Haiqiang, Liang Jiahong becoming the first Chinese man ever to reach a 100 metres final at any World Championships or Olympic Games, and a total of 13 Chinese athletes setting personal best results during the meet.
But Feng remains cautious.
"The victories at junior level are not enough, you cannot take it for granted that we are able to have the same showing at the Olympic Games," he said. "We start professional training earlier than other countries, so we always have certain advantages over them.
"Plus, I'm sure US didn't send their best performers."
Feng said the top task for sporting officials is to keep outstanding youngsters on an upward curve.
"They show very good potential but it doesn't mean they will be equally competitive in senior competition," he said. "We have to help them stay away from injuries, help them get used to different competing environments and keep the momentum in the coming two years before the Olympic Games."
In yesterday's action, 18-year-old Artur Noga improved the Polish National Junior record in the 110 metre hurdles for the second time in the championships, outclassing the rest of the field with a time of 13.23 to grab gold.
With the height of the men's junior hurdles lowered to 99cm, many national records were set at the meet.
Second-placed Samuel Coco-Viloin lowered the French standard to 13.35 with Greece's Konstadinos Douvalidis coming in third in yet another national record of 13.39.
Zheng Xingjuan won China's last medal as she clinched a silver in women's high jump behind Svetlana Radzivil of Uzbekistan.
The Chinese champion failed twice at 1.91 metres after a first time clearance at 1.88m. It was a disappointment for the 17-year-old, who was looking forward to emulating her team-mate Huang, winner of the men's event.
Earlier yesterday, Tariku Bekele and Abreham Cherkos Fekele had a one-two finish for Ethiopia in the men's 5,000 metres while Jamaica beat US to win the men's 4x100 relay race.
Source: China Daily