Over the weekend the smiling face of a 28-year-old race walker was on the cover of most Shenzhen newspapers. Her name is Liu Hong and on Friday she won a gold medal for China at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015.
“I spent the most crucial three years of my career in Shenzhen. Only based on this solid foundation built in Shenzhen was I able to make bigger improvements. Shenzhen will remain my home wherever I go,” Liu said in a Shenzhen Evening News report.
Liu joined the Shenzhen Tigong Team at the age of 15, and officially became a Shenzhen athlete. After three years of training in the city, she was selected for the national team.
“I come from Shenzhen and I felt grateful when standing on the podium as a representative of China in the world championships. My next goal is Rio de Janeiro, the next Olympics,” she said.
Liu beat other competitors with a time of 1:27.45 on the 20-kilometer race walk, with another Chinese athlete Lu Xiuzhi, coming in second. Third place was taken by Lyudmyla Olyanovska from Ukraine.
This might be Liu’s biggest achievement.
In July this year, Liu set a world record with a time of 1:24.38 on the Spanish leg of the IAAF Race Walking Challenge. She won one silver and two bronze medals at the world championships in 2009, 2011 and 2013. And her efforts in two Olympics’ race walks got her fourth place in 2008 and 2012.
Injuries have been a stumbling stone for Liu’s goal-driven diligence.
She said in a Xinhua report, “I have kept in my best shape this year. I am confident because I am injury free and have been training in a very systematic way.”
The 20-kilometer race walk in this year’s championships saw intense competition between Liu and her biggest rival, the silver medalist, Lu Xiuzhi, especially in the latter half of the race.