Zhang's not done, despite her seventh gold
Veteran S'pore star claims 7th gold, and 6th successive shot put win
She was Singapore's big favourite for gold in this year's SEA Games track and field programme, and Zhang Guirong delivered yesterday, winning her seventh SEA Games gold with a distance of 14.60m in the women's shot put.
It was Zhang's best throw of the season, as the defending champion bagged her sixth successive gold in the shot put at the biennial Games.
Zhang dedicated her win to Singapore and the country's 50th birthday celebrations.
"I treat this win as a gift to the country, and I'm wishing Singapore a wonderful future," said Zhang, at the National Stadium yesterday.
"After all these years, I've developed feelings for Singapore. Singapore nurtured me and I must always do the best I can.
"When I've reached a point I can't, I will quietly step away from the sport."
Although far from the personal best of 18.57m that she set at the 2005 Asian Athletics Championships, the 37-year-old was a league of her own.
She was the only one to throw beyond the 14-metre mark; Thai throwers Sawitri Thongchao and Areerat Intadis finished second and third with 13.62m and 13.31m, respectively.
Singapore's Hannah Lee came in fourth with 12.56m.
Veteran Zhang has been in the business for a long time And asked if she will be back to defend her title at the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, she simply said: "If Singapore needs me, I will come back to compete."
She had to wait only until the victory ceremony to find out.
Speaking to The New Paper after the win, Singapore Athletics president Tang Weng Fei revealed: "I told her when I gave her the mascot to try to beat James Wong's consecutive record."
Discus-thrower James Wong holds the SEA Games record of 10 consecutive golds.
Tang never had doubts that Zhang would continue her golden streak.
"I knew she has been training, even though she's a working mother. I've been keeping in touch with her (from her base in China) - she asked me not to worry and I was quite confident she would win," he said.
Zhang also said fellow thrower, 22-year-old Lee (above), had the potential to succeed her.
Tang agreed, saying: "Hannah's still young and she loves to train and work hard.
"She's awesome in terms of strength and just has to brush up a bit on technique."
Both Zhang and Lee will be taking part in the women's discus throw tomorrow.