Wed, 23 Sep 2020

Xie Zhenye of China reacts after the men's 200m semifinal at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Sept. 30, 2019. (Xinhua/Li Ming)

Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, China's Xie Zhenye aims to improve his PB for 200m to sub-19.80 during this season.

HANGZHOU, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- After setting a new Asian men's 200m record of 19.88 seconds last year, China's star sprinter Xie Zhenye hopes to cut his personal best time to sub-19.80 in the COVID-19-affected 2020 season.

Xie became the first Chinese to dip under the 20-second barrier in the 200m at the Diamond League London meet in his fruitful 2019 season, in which he also became the first Chinese to reach the men's 200m final at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

The 26-year-old was sprinting for better results before the global COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games and the cancelation of multiple international competitions.

"The general training cycle and specific plans all need adjustments. But that's the same for everyone," said Xie, who is currently training at the Zhejiang College of Sports. "Unlike before, this summer I could not polish my techniques through competitions, but am instead focusing more on the basics and honing my skills."

Closed-door training sessions amid the pandemic might be agonizing for some athletes, but not for Xie.

"I enjoy crafts after training. I once spent one or two hours trying to make a folded-paper rose following an online video and I sometimes built Lego sets."

He has also filmed and edited fitness videos and posted them on his social media channels to encourage people to stay healthy.

Xie Zhenye (C) of China competes during men's 200m heat at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Sept. 29, 2019. (Xinhua/Wang Jingqiang)

After intensive training in his home province of Zhejiang, the Asian champion plans to kick off his 2020 campaign at the National Championships in September and hopes to lower his own record there or in upcoming competitions as global athletics returns.

Turning 27 on Saturday, Xie told reporters his ambition has stayed the same all these years.

"My goal has always been to stand on the podium at an Olympic Games. Next year I'll give it my all," the 2010 Youth Olympic champion said. "Japan has a similar climate to China. After a year of dedication, I believe this year I can improve on what I have achieved last year, so I'm not too worried about the Tokyo Games."

Xie has qualified for both the 100m and 200m events in Tokyo. He is also the highest-ranked Asian athlete on the world ranking list released by World Athletics in these events, placing eighth in the 100m and sixth in the 200m. And the 100m runner-up at the 2019 Diamond League Finals is not prioritizing one over the other.

"Training for the 100m can help improve my 200m performance and vice versa," he said. "If I have a chance in both events, why not double the joy?" ■

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