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(From AFP/China Daily)
As they jostle in the jet stream of Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin, Asian sprinters will be battling for regional bragging rights at the world athletics championships in Beijing.
Given the wide gulf in quality, just reaching the final of the 100 or 200 meters would be an astonishing achievement for an Asian runner.
While Jamaican giant Bolt, who holds the 100m world record of 9.58 seconds, is likely to be a speck in the distance, the tussle between China’s Su Bingtian and Asian Games champion Femi Ogunode of Qatar should provide an absorbing continental subplot.
Ogunode, Qatar’s Nigerian-born import, completed the sprint double at last year’s Asian Games, winning the 100m in 9.93 and the 200m in 20.14 after returning from a two-year doping ban.
But locals will be roaring on Su, who earlier this year became the first Asian-born athlete to break the 10-second barrier when he clocked 9.99 in a Diamond League meeting in Oregon, behind winner Tyson Gay.
Hailing from a rural corner of China’s southeastern Guangdong province, Su once carried bags for China’s top track stars before making his breakthrough by winning the national title in 2011.
His rivalry with Japan’s Yoshihide Kiryu has so far failed to live up to its billing, however, mainly because of niggling injuries to the Japanese teen sensation.
Kiryu, 19, ran a wind-assisted 9.87 seconds in Texas earlier this year but had to pull out of the world championships with a muscle tear.
Japan, however, has already unearthed a new gem in Tokyo schoolboy Abdul Hakim Sani Brown, who stormed to gold in the 100 and 200 meters at last month’s world youth championships in Cali, Colombia.
The son of a Japanese mother and a Ghanaian father, the 16-year-old is the youngest athlete to represent Japan at the world championships. Read more