JINAN, East China, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- Liu Xiang's steady comeback, promising walkers' progress and other surprising good results at the 11th Chinese National Games boosted Chinese athletes' confidence to achieve more in the international arena.
The six-day athletics events came to an end on Monday night, attracting 963 athletes from 36 delegations to compete in the 44 events.
LIU XIANG'S "NEW HOPE"
Though Liu's winning result of 13.34 seconds was far off his former world record and personal best of 12.88, his second race after his shock withdrawal from the Beijing Olympics pushed the National Games to its climax on Sunday night.
In a sold-out Olympic sports center, the Athens Olympic champion trotted around the stadium after crossing the line, waving arms to audiences, attracting thunderous cheers and applauses from a crowd of more than 50,000.
The third gold in three straight Games, as Liu said, brought 'new hope' to him.
"In my career, I have collected many gold medals. But this one is special, and it brings 'new hope' to me. The Games was just a prelude, I still need to keep calm. Step by step, that's what I need to do. I still believe in myself," Liu said after the race.
Following Liu's 13.34 victory, Ji Wei, who placed first in the heats, finished second in 13.42. Liu's national teammate Shi Dongpeng finished third in 13.63.
PROMISING WALKERS IN 20KM
Wang Hao, who became the first Chinese man to win a walking medal at the Berlin World Championships, easily took the men's 20kmin one hour 18 minutes and 13 seconds, surpassing his personal best of 1:19.06.
The 20-year-old has set his sight on the 2012 Olympics, saying, "That's my next goal."
Winning an Olympic medal was also a dream for China's Liu Hong, the bronze medalist of women's 20km event in Berlin. With a victory at the National Games, she believed she could fulfil this dream in London.
The 22-year-old finished the race in 1:28.11, which is also among the world's best.
Liu's personal best was 1:27.17 set in the Beijing Olympics when she missed the podium finish narrowly.
"I hope I can win an Olympic medal in London. Maybe it will be a golden one. Let's wait and see," said Liu.
Li Yanxi broke the oldest Chinese track and field national record as he rewrote the men's 28-year-old triple jump record with 17.59 meters.
The 25-year-old Li, the 2006 Asian Games champion in Doha, also broke the Asian record of 17.35 set by Kazakhstan's Oleg Sakirkin in 1994.
The national mark of 17.34 was set by legendary Zou Zhenxian at the 3rd Athletics World Cup in Rome in 1981.
Elsewhere, Gong Lijiao's shot put in 20.35m, Li Yanfeng's discus throw in 66.40m and Zhang Wenxiu's hammer throw in 74.25m all reached the world's top level. They both had the potential to seek a podium finish in London.
Women's 100 meters sprint champion Wang Jing was banned from competition for life after she tested positive for elevated level of epitestosterone metabolites and testosterone.
It was the first the doping case from the athletics competitions, yet disappointed the organizing committee's long time efforts to deliver a "clean" event at the 11th Games.
The sports administration has introduced more strict anti-doping rules at this Games as to ensure healthy environment for all athletes.
In an interview with Xinhua on Sunday, vice sports minister XiaoTian called for better sportsmanship and fairer competition at the Games. Yet he acknowledged to improve the sportsmanship and fight against doping were an "arduous" task.