By Low Lin Fhoong
THE third leg of the Asian Grand Prix in Hanoi, Vietnam, was shot put star Zhang Guirong’s last chance to secure her spot at next month’s Olympic Games.
Citing the need for athletes to maintain their form, the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) had set the China-born athlete a target of 16.95m — within 1.5 per cent of her Olympic ‘B’ qualifying mark of 17.21m — for the three legs of the Asian Grand Prix.
Yesterday in Hanoi, the 29-year-old managed a distance of 16.48m, finishing second behind China’s Li Ling, who recorded 17.57m.
While the effort was 0.47m short of the SAA’s target, she is still favoured to go to Beijing next month.
Zhang was nominated by the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) for the shot put event at the Olympics last week, but she still needs to earn the final nod from the SAA.
Despite her failing to meet the target, SAA assistant technical director Veeramani Chidrambaram said: “Guirong may not have met the target, but we also look at the consistency in performance. The important thing is that she came close in all three competitions.”
Last Monday, Zhang recorded a distance of 16.8m in the first leg in Bangkok, followed by 16.77m in Korat, Thailand on Thursday.
“The Asian Grand Prix can be very stressful as athletes have to travel and compete in different places within a week,” said Veeramani. “I think Guirong didn’t do too badly in the space of that week.”
The association have till July 23 to make their final decision, but Veeramani added that it’s unlikely that SAA will change their Olympic line-up. “I’ll make the recommendation to the training and selection committee to go ahead with Guirong, but the final decision will lie with them.”
Singapore athletics will also be represented by 100m specialist Calvin Kang at the Olympics Games. The SAA will nominate sprinter Amanda Choo (100m) for a wildcard spot if Zhang is dropped for the Olympiad.
From “S’pore awarded Women’s 470 slot” (The Straits Times, 01 July 2008 )
…Meanwhile, the Singapore Athletic Association is set to nominate sprinter Amanda Choo on a wildcard entry to the Olympics.
Zhang Guirong, who met the shot put ‘B’ qualifying distance of 17.20m last December, failed to prove her consistency.
She heaved 16.45m to finish second behind China‘s Li Ling in the final leg of the Asian Grand Prix event in Hanoi yesterday. She had managed 16.80m and 16.77m in the first two legs.
The SAA had stipulated that to go to Beijing, Zhang needed to throw within 1.5 per cent of the 17.20m qualifying mark, which is 16.94m.
‘We’ll make a recommendation to our training and selection committee based on these distances and they will make the final decision,’ said SAA assistant technical director C. Veeramani.
The deadline for final submissions to the international federation is July 23.