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Chinese 'barefoot' heroine wins Universiade half marathon

Updated: 2015-07-13 14:01

Chinese 'barefoot' heroine wins Universiade half marathon

Chinese runner Zhang Yingying celebrates after finishing first during the women's half marathon at the Gwangju University Games in South Korea, July 12, 2015. [Photo/Xinhua]

GWANGJU, South Korea - Chinese runner Zhang Yingying captured the women's half marathon gold medal on Sunday, which was her second medal at the Universiade as she had already finished on podium in the 10,000 meters four days ago.

Zhang won a bronze medal on Wednesday in 10,000m barefoot after her right-foot sneaker had been stripped off when her follower stepped on her heel in the middle of the race. The 25-year-old held on to finish about 5,000 meters with just one shoe on. The right foot was full of bloody blisters at the moment she crossed the finish line.

"The team doctor has been taking care of my foot injury and the wounds have almost healed, so I decided to take part in the half marathon as planned," said Zhang.

"The doctor suggested to attach a bondage to the foot, but I refused for the sake of discomfort in race."

Recalling the 10,000m competition, Zhang said: "I had not been thinking much at the moment when I lost the right shoe. What's in my mind was I need to take the race seriously and I should not drop out half way just for that."

Zhang overtook a couple of Japanese runners, who occupied the places from two to four, in a time of one hour 15 minutes and 6 seconds, followed by Nanako Kanno's 1:15:24 and Ayumi Uehara's 1:15:35.

"Reading the startlist, it's quite clear that the Japanese were aiming at the team title. They are much stronger overall than the other teams, so I told myself to catch up with them and try to match my person best," said Zhang.

Zhang has just graduated from her master degree and remains in her school as a trainer in the sports competition department in China's Tianjin Normal University.

"As a student, I usually attend class in the morning and take training in the afternoon, then I continue my class in the evening," said Zhang.

Comparing the two medals, Zhang values her bronze in the 10,000m even more valuable than the gold. "The bronze from 10,000m is the most important medal of my life. I think I will not be afraid of any difficulty in the future," said Zhang.

With two competition days left and 17 gold medals for grab, South Korea will most likely finish the Gwangju University Games on the top of the medal table. After Sunday's competitions, South Korea has won 44 gold, 28 silver and 26 bronze medals. Russia ranks second at 32-37-44 and China is on the third position at 32-20-15.

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