Today marks one year to go until the 2015 Beijing World Championships and SPIKES, with the help of Chinese long jumper Li Jinzhe, gives you four good reasons, why Beijing is going to A-MAZING!
Redemption for China
Remember Beijing 2008? Usain Bolt’s historic sprint triple, Yelena Isinbaeva’s 5.05m pole vault world record and the heartbreak of a whole nation as Liu Xiang had to pull out of the 110m hurdles injured. But there’s hope for the Chinese, as several young and exciting athletes are gearing up to tear up the track at the iconic Bird’s Nest.
Li, who has been one of the world’s best long jumpers of the past couple of years, tells SPIKES: “Unfortunately I missed the Beijing Olympics. I am actually from Beijing, so when I heard the news that Beijing is going to host the world championships I was so excited.
“I’d always dreamed I could one day compete in the Bird’s Nest in a big championship and get good results.”
After missing the Beijing Olympics, Li is hoping to celebrate on home soil
Look at some of the times run and distances jumped at the Beijing National Stadium and you’ll realise next year could be a good’un. Bolt set both his former 100m and 200m world records in the Chinese national stadium and Li rates the track highly.
“I really like the track in the Bird’s Nest. It’s incredible and I think every athlete can get some really good results there. I recently spoke to my coach and said how I’ve always wanted to compete in the Bird’s Nest, and he is just as excited about it as I am.”
Bolt's loving the track after clocking two world records in the Bird's Nest
Re-igniting the passion
Former 110m hurdles world record holder Liu Xiang is one of the most well-known sports stars in China, but has been plagued by injury over recent years. With another major track and field event coming to Beijing, it looks like the country’s passion for the sport could soon return.
“After Liu Xiang took a step back, the Chinese people pretty much stopped taking an interest in track and field,” explains Li.
“But last year when Peimeng Zhang, who is also from Beijing, ran 10.00 in the 100m and I jumped well in the long jump, people started to pay attention to the sport again. Especially the citizens of Beijing, they really care about us. So to hold the world championship here is really a good choice, because the crowd love their athletes and can’t wait to see them compete.”
High hopes for current crop
The latest generation of Chinese athletes has big shoes to fill. With Liu Xiang’s absence from the track, the focus now lies on the upcoming talent, but Li insists he’s not feeling any pressure so far.
“Liu Xiang is the greatest athlete in China, he’s my idol and I think it is impossible to get anywhere near his status,” says Li modestly.
“I dreamed about competing in the Bird’s Nest, but I don’t dare thinking about a medal. I just want to perform to the best of my ability.”
More heartache for Liu Xiang as he's out injured at the London Olympics