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China taking great strides forward

By Sun Xiaochen  (China Daily)

11:05, May 25, 2013

Long jumper Li Jinzhe leapt 8.31 meters to win at the IAAF World Challenge Beijing on Tuesday at the Bird's Nest. Only three days earlier, Li jumped a season's best of 8.34m to win the Shanghai IAAF Diamond League title. Led by Li, a group of young Chinese track and field athletes are on the rise. Cui Meng / China Daily

Crop of promising young athletes following in the wake of star hurdler

Liu Xiang's absence from the international arena has not slowed China's progress in track and field.

Boasting robust results and character, a crop of young Chinese athletes has emerged from the star hurdler's shadow and is set to lead the country's charge against the world's best.

In the absence of Liu, who is recovering from heel surgery in the US, China's sprinters and jumpers drew great attention to themselves at two recent meets held in the country.

"It's unfair to say that Liu's era has ended but I believe the new generation will be able to take over his baton to stand high for Chinese athletics in the future," high jumper Wang Yu said after winning the title at the IAAF World Challenge Beijing with a personal best of 2.33 meters at the National Stadium on Tuesday.

The 21-year-old's result ranked him second so far this year, only 0.01 meter behind US jumper Erik Kynard, and tied with Kynard's silver-medal winning height at the London Olympics.

Boasting marketable looks and a humble demeanor, Wang, a junior student at Tsinghua University, has been hailed as an upcoming star with a distinctly different background to Liu, who was brought up in the State-run system without receiving a college education.

Still, Wang remains in awe of Liu.

"The legacy he left to us is his fighting spirit in facing adversity. We feel the pressure to catch up to him, but we are confident we can reach his level in our respective events," said Wang, who studies business administration at Tsinghua University.

Joining Wang in China's youth surge are long jumper Li Jinzhe, who won the gold medal at last week's IAAF Diamond League Shanghai leg with the year's best leap of 8.34 meters, and sprinter Zhang Peimeng, also a student at Tsinghua, who broke the national records in the 100m and 200m this month.

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