Old-timer continues China’s dominance in shot putt after recovering from Covid-19

Blastoff: China’s Gong Lijiao in action during the women’s shot putt final at the Hangzhou Olympic Stadium. — AFP

NO COACH and yet Gong Lijiao delivers for her nation.

The shot putter won her third consecutive gold medal in the Asian Games after hurling a distance of 19.58m, finishing ahead of her compatriot Song Jiayuan (18.92m) and India’s Kiran Baliyan (17.36m), who completed the podium at the Hangzhou Olympic Stadium on Friday.

The 34-year-old Lijiao who won the shot putt in Incheon 2014 and Jakarta-Palembang 2018, revealed that she has been training on her own since her Tokyo 2020 Olympics win, and only got fitness coaching sessions with China athletics fitness coach Myles Brown.

“After the Tokyo Olympics, I did a lot of training by myself and without any coach, which was a challenge for me. I did some coaching on my own too as I guided some of the athletes in the training centre,” she said in a press conference after her win on Friday.

“But right now I’m going to stick to the rhythm of my own training because I have a lot of competitions and I want to deliver a good performance, so I am just focusing on my own training.”

As for her outing in Hangzhou, which she said would be her last Asian Games, Lijiao was not pleased with her throw as she was aiming for 21m.

“My performance at the World Championships was actually quite bad, as I threw 19.69, winning bronze. For the Asian Games result, I’m content, but not totally satisfied.

“Nevertheless, it’s my triple and China continue to dominate the women’s shot putt in Asia for 12 consecutive years.

“I also think that’s what our juniors should do. This may be my last Asian Games and I hope that my successor Jiayuan can take the baton.

“I think it was harder (than expected) because I’m getting older and my body may not be like before.

“I need to keep building my strength, I had Covid-19 and I need to fully recover, and I want to compete in the Paris 2024 Olympics, and my goal is to throw 21m, and so I am going to have to keep working on that and achieve that goal.”

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