Sports

Rivalry pushes red-hot Chinese sprinters to the limit

Thursday, August 16, 2018

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SHANGHAI, China (AFP) — Chinese sprinters Su Bingtian and Xie Zhenye are locked in a fierce but friendly rivalry that is propelling them ever faster — just in time for the Asian Games.

The speedsters have been in ominous form in recent weeks, bringing out the best in each other ahead of the games in Indonesia, starting on Saturday.

Xie snatched Su's unofficial title of China's fastest man in June when the 24-year-old ran 9.97sec in France.

Then, just three days later in Madrid, the 28-year-old Su struck back with his lightning 9.91sec to add another chapter to their rivalry.

More significantly, it matched the Asian record set by Femi Ogunode of Qatar three years ago and made Su the fifth-fastest man in the world this year over 100m.

Randy Huntington, Su's American coach, believes the sprinter can go faster still, saying he has the potential to go under 9.80sec.

Su, the world indoor silver medallist who also won silver at the last Asian Games, behind the Nigerian-born Ogunode, countered: “So now I have a new goal.”

Xie, who remains in the better-known Su's shadow, tweaked his ankle last month, but is expected to be fully fit for the Asian Games, which will be held in Jakarta and Palembang.

While Su has the edge in the 100m, Xie is the man for the 200m, setting a new Chinese record in May in Japan of 20.16sec.

“We have a very good relationship,” Xie told SPIKES, the website and magazine of athletics' world governing body, the IAAF.

“We all send our best wishes to each other when we compete and even though we are also opponents, I believe that this relationship as adversaries can help us both go faster.”

Adding to the feeling that Chinese sprinting has never had it so good is the form of Wei Yongli, 26, the reigning Asian Games champion who broke the 11-second barrier last month with 10.99sec in the women's 100m.

“Our progress lets more people know that we Chinese can do it in sprinting and lets many athletes in China feel confident and get strength,” said Su, who recently became a father.

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