From Tokyo to Xi'an, they are never gonna stop

Xinhua
In his thirties, Su's recent performance manifested a kind of fighting spirit, which many other veterans also represent.
Xinhua

Off the back of moving into the men's 100m final of Tokyo Olympic Games with a new Asian record, China's sprinter Su Bingtian rode the momentum to claim the gold medal at China's National Games with another sub-10 seconds race.

In his thirties, Su's recent performance manifested a kind of fighting spirit, which many other veterans also represent.

Dating back to the 13th National Games in 2017, Su lost to his national teammate Xie Zhenye in the 100m final, and there were voices that his era had passed.

However, Su blasted the criticisms by entering into another peak period. He won his first crown in a major competition at the Jakarta Asian Games in 2018 before burning himself out by clocking a personal best of 9.83 seconds - the fastest among all semifinalists and a new Asian record - to become the first Chinese to qualify for the men's 100m Olympic final.

"They said I've run out of gas," said Su after his National Games victory in 9.95 seconds. "But I never give up, and I stick to my dream and stay on the track. The loss in 2017 has made me who I am today."

"I'm 32 years old now, but I can run faster than I ever have. I want to tell young guys, don't waste any time. When you are 25, two Olympic Games are waiting for you to fight for. Don't let people's words affect you, and stick to your own path with confidence," he added.

During the Tokyo Olympics, Su said he wanted to "borrow" the gold medal from shot putter Gong Lijiao to take a selfie.

After collecting one silver and one bronze, four-time Olympian Gong finally claimed the women's shot put title, giving China its first Olympic gold in the field events.

Compared with her relatively rough experience at the Olympic stage, Gong had a dominant performance at China's premier multi-sport event. She has registered the fourth straight win with 19.88 meters in Xi'an.

"Winning four championships in a row is great. I hope there will be a fifth. I waited five years for Tokyo 2020. There are just three years away from Paris 2024, and I want to be there," Gong vowed.

Much like Gong, swimmer Wang Shun also indicated his ruling power at the National Games. Despite just being 27-year-old, Wang is inevitably listed as an old soldier in the natatorium.

Wang, who won gold in the men's 200m individual medley at Tokyo 2020, claimed his third straight title in the event at the 14th National Games, bagging his 15th gold medal after three editions of the quadrennial tournament.

"For me, every medal is a hard-earned one, every step forward requires great devotion," said Wang.

After Wang claimed the title at the Tokyo Olympics, he started to shoulder more responsibility for the Chinese swimming team. Standing on the new stage of his life, the 27-year-old is full of confidence.

"I will go all out in my daily training and future events," added Wang, who sets his eyes on Paris 2024.

Besides Wang, paddler Ma Long is also in the limelight. Ma, captain of the all-leading Chinese table tennis team, won back-to-back Olympic titles in the men's singles, and at 32 years old, he became the most decorated table tennis player in the Olympic history with five gold medals.

In Xi'an, after finishing with one gold and one silver, there were speculations about whether it was the end of his career.

"Since I picked up the paddle, I will take it seriously and cherish every moment, once I make the decision to retire, I will tell everyone," Ma stated.

Ma is coy on his future, but another four-time Olympian, shooter Pang Wei did have decided to say goodbye.

Pang, the 2008 and 2020 Olympic Games gold medalist, helped Hebei Province win the 10m air pistol men's team title at National Games, but was ousted earlier in the mixed team qualification despite pairing his Tokyo Olympic winning partner Jiang Ranxin.

The injury-plagued veteran confessed he was tired. "It's not an impulsive idea," explained Pang while talking about his retirement. "I longed for a rest for a long time, given all the pains and injuries, and the thought became much stronger when I came back from the Tokyo Olympics."

"Hopefully there come more talented youngsters to carry the flag for China's shooting sport in the future," he added.

But Pang told reporters he will not leave the sport for good, raising speculations that he might join his wife Du Li, also two-time Olympic gold medalist, as a coach.

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