World champion Yang Jiayu proved her victory in London three weeks ago was not just a flash in the pan, as she withstood challenges from Qieyang Shijie in the last kilometre to win the 20km race walk at the Chinese National Games in Tianjin on Sunday (3).The 21-year-old clocked 1:28:29 to win the gold medal, four seconds ahead of Qieyang, the 2012 Olympic silver medallist. Li Leilei from Tianjin clocked 1:34:37 to grab the bronze medal in front of a jubilant local crowd.
“Winning at the World Championships was a big boost of confidence for me and these two titles will encourage me to train even harder in the future,” said Yang, who trimmed 17 seconds off her personal best to claim the world title in London in 1:26:18.
“But once I stepped off the podium, it was a brand new start for me,” she added. “My next goals will be the 2019 World Championships as well as the Olympic Games in Tokyo.”
In spite of the absence of world record-holder and Olympic champion Liu Hong, who is currently pregnant, the women’s 20km race walk was still a high-quality race. A fast lead group, including Yang, Qieyang, 2015 world silver medallist Lyu Xiuzhi, and Wang Na, who finished eighth at the World Championships last month, paced the race in the early stages.
Wang was disqualified before halfway. Defending champion Lyu, who was disqualified last month in London in the home straight with a chance of podium finish at her fingertips, was once again sent out by the referee with five kilometres to go. Yang and Qieyang then led side by side until the last kilometre before the in-from Yang pulled away in style for the win.
In the men’s 20km race walk, world leader Wang Kaihua clocked 1:20:52 to take the victory.