BEIJING: Long-jumper Li Jinzhe boosted his reputation as one of China’s greatest track and field hopes with his second victory over a strong field in three days at the IAAF World Challenge in Beijing Tuesday.
Li beat 2008 Olympic Champion Irving Saladino at the scene of the Panamanian’s greatest triumph, leading the field with a jump of 8.31 at China’s iconic National Stadium, which is also known as the ‘Bird’s Nest’.
Saladino could only manage a jump of 7.44m, which left him nine places behind Li, with Ghanaian Ignisious Gaisah in second and Zimbabwe’s Ngonidzashe Makusha third.
Three of the last four IAAF World Indoor Championships gold medallists were also competing against 23-year-old Li, including Gaisah (2006).
Victory for the Beijing-born jumper came after he claimed another Olympic scalp, when he won at the Shanghai Diamond Athletics meet on Saturday, pushing London 2012 gold medalist Greg Rutherford into third place.
Saladino finished eighth in Shanghai, while 2004 champion, the USA’s Dwight Phillips came 10th, after Li jumped a season’s best 8.34m.
But there was success for another Beijing Olympic champion, with 400m gold medalist LaShawn Merritt winning on his return to the Bird’s Nest in the 200m event.
He finished ahead of compatriot Jeremy Dodson and Chinese star Xie Zhenye.
In the 110m hurdles, the USA’s David Oliver claimed victory after the 2008 bronze medallist could only manage fourth in Shanghai.
“China has great fans and great atmosphere,” Oliver told Xinhua news agency, moments after he won the race ahead of Jamaica’s Dwight Thomas and the USA’s Jason Richardson.
In the men’s 100m, the USA’s Justin Gatlin crossed the line first in 9.91secs, ahead of compatriot Michael Rodgers and China’s Su Bingtian.
Su finished on 10.06secs, marginally off the 10.04secs national record set last month by Zhang Peimeng, who came fifth in Beijing.