China's most successful worlds wrap up with 2 more medals

BEIJING (AP) It was a fitting end for the hometown fans at the Bird's Nest.

China captured two more medals on the final day of the world championships to cap an unexpectedly successful week with a record nine medals - more than double its total from Moscow two years ago.

''We won medals across the disciplines,'' said Du Zhaocai, director of the Chinese athletics association. ''It's a first for us in a world-class event.''

On Sunday, Zhang Guowei won a silver medal in the men's high jump and Lyu Huihui matched him in the women's javelin. Competing at the same time but on opposite ends of the stadium, Zhang and Lyu had the Bird's Nest hopping.

Midway through the evening, Zhang celebrated a clean jump by striking a kung fu crane pose - a la Ralph Macchio's character in ''The Karate Kid'' - drawing cheers and laughter from the Chinese fans. Moments later, Lyu took the lead in the javelin throw and the stadium roared.

''It just felt great,'' said Lyu, who set an Asian record with a throw of 66.13 meters. ''It's my first time to be competing on my own doorstep. There were so many in the crowd supporting me.''

Zhang, who took up high jumping when he was 15, cleared 2.33 meters to make a jump-off for the gold, but settled for second behind Derek Drouin of Canada after missing his only attempt at 2.34.

It was China's first high jump medal since Zhang's boyhood idol, Zhu Jianhua, won bronze at the 1983 world championships.

''A lot of pressure,'' the 24-year-old Zhang said. ''I did not want to leave the spectators down.''

China's athletes have been excelling under pressure all week - particularly in events where it doesn't have a winning tradition.

Take the long jump. Wang Jianan, a fresh-faced 19-year-old kid from northeastern Liaoning province, shook off a hamstring injury to win the bronze in front of another boisterous crowd, China's first-ever medal in the event.

Su Bingtian, meanwhile, not only became the first Asian sprinter to reach the men's 100-meter final at the world championships, he and his teammates also captured a startling silver in the 4x100 relay behind Usain Bolt and the rest of the Jamaican squad.

And race walker Liu Hong finally broke through to win gold in the 20-kilometer walk - the country's only title at the world championships - after taking home silver and two bronzes at the last three worlds.

Zhang, the high jumper, said he drew inspiration from his podium-hopping teammates this week - even if he didn't watch them in action.

''I thought I might get too excited,'' he said. ''The high jump is on the last day of the competition so I wanted to stay calm.''

With China hoping for an encore performance next year in Rio de Janeiro, Zhang may want to tune in for the show.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.