NATIONAL FLAME: The torch of the 11th National Games held on October 16-28 in Jinan, east China's Shandong Province (JIANG XIAOYINNG)
Fans were treated to all the highs and lows of sport during China's 11th National Games, billed as the country's mini-Olympics, which witnessed both record-breaking feats and doping scandals. The Games ended on the evening of October 28 in Jinan, east China's Shandong Province.
Five world, 16 Asian and 39 national records were broken at this year's event, said Xiao Tian, deputy head of the General Administration of Sport of China (GASC).
Chinese President Hu Jintao opened the biggest-ever National Games on October 16, which featured 10,991 athletes from 46 delegations representing all provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions on the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, the People's Liberation Army, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps and various trade sports associations. More than 50 Beijing Olympic champions from China joined in the quadrennial meet and staged another sports gala that called for everybody to participate in sports.
The Athens Olympic 110-meter hurdles champion, Liu Xiang, who was plagued for a year with a foot injury, won the event with a time of 13.34 seconds.
"In my career, I have collected many gold medals. But this one is special, and it brings new hope to me," said Liu after a race in which more than 50,000 spectators watched from their seats in the Jinan Olympic Center Stadium.
It is the first gold claimed by the former world record holder since his comeback from Achilles tendon surgery in December 2008. His personal best in the event is 12.88 seconds.
In the swimming pool, 10 new Asian records and one world record were established. Olympic champion Liu Zige set a new world record in the 200-meter butterfly, swimming the event in 2 minutes, 1.81 seconds. Liu's speed was over 2 seconds faster than the previous world best that was set by Australian Jessica Schipper at the Rome World Championships.
Zhang Lin won the gold medals in the 400 freestyle, the 4x100-meter free relay titles and the 200-meter freestyle. Zhang, who also garnered victory in the 800-meter freestyle during July's Rome Worlds with a time of 7:32.12, is China's first male swimming world champion. He also won four gold medals at the 2005 National Games.
Lin Dan, who is known as "Super Dan," defended his men's singles badminton title by defeating Bao Chunlai in straight sets, and World No. 1 female shuttler Wang Lin won the women's singles final.
In table tennis, world champions Wang Hao and Zhang Yining outplayed their rivals to win the men's and women's singles title, respectively.
In team sports, Tianjin beat Liaoning Province to win the women's volleyball finals and host Shandong beat Shaanxi Province to clinch the men's football title.
In doping news, three female athletes were found to have taken banned substances as of October 27: Wang Jing from Fujian Province in track event; Guo Linna, a rower from Henan Province; and Li Jie, a shooter from Inner Mongolia.
They were all disqualified from the Games. Guo will be banned for four years and Wang, who won the women's 100-meter sprint, faces a lifetime ban if the second sample result comes back positive for banned substances.
About the National Games
The National Games of the People's Republic of China, the highest-level sporting event in the country, was first launched in 1959 in Beijing. The event is held every four years, usually one year after the Olympics.
The 11th National Games featured 362 competitive events in 33 sports, almost the same lineup as the Olympics. The next National Games will be held in Liaoning Province in 2013.
Summer, winter, military and ethnic sports were included in the event from the first to the fourth National Games. Afterwards, China began to concentrate on preparing for the Summer Olympics. Winter sports were excluded in the fifth and sixth National Games and a new National Winter Games was created for winter sports.
The National Games began to again include winter sports in 1993. The seventh Games included short-track speed skating and speed skating, the eighth Games included figure skating and the 11th Games included freestyle skiing.
The National Games consist of all 28 sports in the summer Olympics, four winter sports and wushu, the Chinese martial arts.
(Reporting from Jinan)