Zhang dedicates golden gift to year-old son

Zhang dedicates golden gift to year-old son

It took a last-gasp effort for Singapore's Zhang Guirong to seal victory on Sunday in the shot put.

The 35-year-old had led the six-thrower SEA Games field after her third attempt of 14.86m.

It looked to be good enough for the gold - till her compatriot Du Xianhui, who came out of retirement only six months ago, sprang a surprise with a sixth and final throw of 14.92m to seize the lead.

Forced to better that distance in order to retain her 2011 title, Zhang replied with a 14.99m effort. That gave the thrower her fifth consecutive win in the biennial competition.

Thailand's Sawitri Thongchao took the bronze in 14.82m.

Motherhood, it seems, has not dulled Zhang's hunger for success.

The national record holder (18.57m, set in 2005), who dedicated her victory to her son who celebrated his first birthday last week, said: "I'm not really happy with my result, but what's most important is that Singapore have retained the gold medal.

"And after a long time, it's nice to compete with Xianhui again."

Du, 32, had been in retirement since leaving Singapore acrimoniously in 2007, but was recalled for the SEA Games.

The meet record-holder (18.20m, set in 2003) added: "I felt a bit of pressure taking part in these big competitions after such a long time away.

"I also didn't think that the Thai athletes would be this good. They have improved."

The duo's results ensured that Singapore's track and field team, who got two golds, three silvers and two bronzes in 2011, did not go home empty-handed after the first day of the athletics competition.

With their task accomplished in Myanmar, they are already looking forward to the next edition in 2015, when the Games arrive in Singapore.

Said Zhang: "It's dangerous because some of the Thai athletes are really catching up with us.

"We must retain the gold in 2015."

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