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

(Xinhua)

10:56, March 31, 2012

TAICANG, China, March 30 (Xinhua) -- 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.

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