Dubbed Mr. Spectacles for his penchant for wearing glasses while he races, Chinese 400-metre champion Guo Zhongze will lead his country’s sprint team when China battles Canada at the Harry Jerome Track Classic June 26-27 at Swangard Stadium.
The 35th anniversary Jerome will feature a meet-within-a-meet as top male and female sprinters from Canada and China compete at 100, 200 and 400 metres as well as in the 4×100 and 4×400-metre relays. The highest point-scoring country will take home the Pacific World Cup.
The Chinese team named today is headed by Guo, 21, who last September broke a 16-year-old national record in the 400 at the Chinese National Games. He was clocked in 45.14 seconds, bettering the previous mark of 45.25 set by Xu Zizhou in 2001.
“I went all out to race and I am so happy about the result,” said Guo, a student at Peking University. “I never expected to break the record.”
Asked about the black-rimmed glasses he wears while sprinting, Guo said “they can stay firmly on my nose. I am already used to wearing them while I run.”
Guo will be joined at 400 metres and in the 4×400 men’s relay on the Chinese team by Mao Guorong (46.38 personal best), Wu Yu’ang (45.83) and Feng Zhiqiang (46.59).
The men’s 400 is the one race where China looks to have a clear advantage over Canada heading into the Sprint Challenge. Canada hasn’t had an elite 400-metre runner since Chilliwack’s Tyler Christopher, who holds the national record of 44.44 set in 2005 when he won bronze at the IAAF world championships. Joshua Cunningham of Pickering, Ont., has the best time by a Canadian at the distance this year, a 47.18 clocking, and a personal best of 46.02 set in 2016.
Running the 100 and 200 for the China men’s team at the Jerome will be Xu Haiyang (third at last year’s China Nationals in 10.21), Mi Hong (10.29 PB), Xu Zhouzheng (10.21 PB), Liang Jinsheng (10.37 PB), Bie Ge (10.49 PB) and Mao Guorong (10.50 PB).
The women’s team is led by 20-year-old Huang Guifen, who won the 200 metres at the Chinese nationals last September in 23.07 and who will also race the 400 metres (53.10 PB) and 4×400 relay. The rest of the women’s team includes 100-metre sprinters Yuan Qiqi (11.29 PB), Ge Manqi (11.52), LiangXiaojing (11.49) and Zhou Yanbing (11.75) and 400-metre specialists Liang Nuo (53.37), He Ke (54.25), Pan Gaoqin (54.29) and Cheng Chong (54.45).
“The Chinese athletes coming to Canada this time are the new emerging forces of China’s track and field army,” said Jin Ling, head of the Team China contingent. “They will be the first-line sprinters for China at the 2019 World Championships and the 2020 Summer Olympics.
“Some of them were at the (2016) Rio Olympics, the (2017) World Championships in London or the (2017) IAAF World Relay Championships in Bahamas and had achieved pretty good results and rankings.
“I look forward to the Harry Jerome meet in Canada and hope that Chinese athletes will be able to improve their personal bests and be able to learn from each other when racing with Canadian athletes.”
Tickets for the Jerome are available online at www.harryjerome.com.