Three world records fell at the Beijing Grand Prix on Saturday as world and Paralympic champion Xiaoyan Wen leapt to new lengths in the Chinese capital.
Wen lay down her marker for the 2019 Para athletics season – which culminates with the World Championships in November – with a new world record in the women’s long jump T37.
The 21-year-old added four centimetres on to the mark she set on her way to Paralympic gold in Rio three years ago – only a teenager then – with a new mark of 5.18m.
Results in Beijing showed Wen, who also won Asian Para Games gold last year, still has plenty more up her sleeve and she will surely hold high hopes of success at the Worlds in Dubai in six months’ time.
China’s 4x100m universal relay team – comprising Cuiqing Liu (women’s T11), Hao Wang (men’s T46), Yifei Yang (men’s T36) and Lihong Zou (women’s T54) established a new world record on the track, stopping the clock at 47.57.
Hosts excel in newest event
The universal relay was added to the Paralympic Games programme last year and requires teams of two female and two male Para athletes from different classes - T11-13 vision impairment, T42-47 or T61-64 limb impairment, T35-38 co-ordination impairment and T33-34 or T51-54 wheelchair racing classes.
Japan’s Erina Yuguchi (21.58) also set a new 100m world record in the women’s T61 class established last year.
Out in the field, China’s women excelled – displaying the strength and power now expected of them.
Consistency was the name of the game for Paralympic and world champion Liangmin Zhang who took gold in the shot put F11 with a best of 11.45m in the sixth and final round, having thrown 11.42m and 11.44m with her previous two efforts.
Four-time world medallist Yuping Zhao (12.51m) took gold in the shot put F12 and Paralympic champion Jun Wang (11.21m) won the shot put F35/36.
Just two centimetres separated first and second place in the shot put F37, but it was experienced star Na Mi (13.50m) who claimed the gold ahead of her 21-year-old teammate Yingli Li (13.48m), who won silver behind Mi at London 2017.
Victory was more straightforward for Juan Yao in the shot put F44 – the four-time Paralympic gold medallist led from the first round and finished with a best of 12.15m. She added a win in the discus F44 (38.78m) later in the day.
Lijuan Zou claimed two golds, first in the discus F34 (16.22m) then later in the shot put F33/34 (8.62m). The 24-year-old is unbeaten at major championships and has two Paralympic, four world and four Asian Para Games golds to her name already.
Liwan Yang, another of China’s multiple major gold medallists, also won her discus and shot put F54 events – throwing 18.14m and 7.35m respectively. There was a win too for Paralympic discus champion and F55 athlete Feixia Dong (22.91m).
Success did not all go China’s way though – Japan’s Yukiko Saito (11.25m) won the women’s shot put F46; Vietnam’s Bich van Truong (18.60m and 7.33m) won the women’s discus and shot put F56 and Thi Hai Nguyen (23.52m) – also of Vietnam – won the women’s javelin F57.
China’s men did not disappoint either. Dening Zhu and Hao Wang both leapt to the top of their respective long jump world rankings. Zhu reached 7.03m in the T38 class while T46 athlete Wang jumped 7.23m - five centimetres further than his winning distance at London 2017.
Back on the track and 24 hours after claiming victory over 100m, reigning world champions Yifei Yang and Yiting Shi notched up their second sprint golds of the three-day meeting – this time over 200m.
Yang (25.89) crossed the line nearly two seconds clear of his rivals in the men’s 200m T36, while Shi (31.70) finished ahead of T35 athlete Xia Zhou (34.49). Yang went on to win long jump T20/36 gold in the afternoon session with a best of 5.49m.
Cuiqing Liu (12.13) and Dongdong Di (11.45) also made it two out of two with wins in the women’s and men’s 100m T11. Guohua Zhou (12.37) had to settle for second behind Li just as she did over 200m a day earlier.
Hongzhuan Zhou (29.31) claimed her third gold of the Grand Prix, this time winning the women’s 200m T51/53; it was a hat trick too for Zhaoqian Zhou (29.18), winner of the women’s 200m T54. Yang Liu (25.63) won the men’s 200m T54 to add to his victory over 100m on Friday.
Another star Para athlete back in action on day two was Japan’s Atsushi Yamamoto (13.42). Winner of the long jump competition the previous day, this time he lined up in the 100m T63/64. Yamamoto was the first T63 athlete over the line, with teammate and T64 sprinter Yuma Tamaki just ahead in 13.28.
The men’s and women’s 1,500m T54 races saw wins for Yong Zhang (3:05.56) and Zhaoqian Zhou (3:39.25) respectively.