Chinese female world records


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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby bambam » Sun Jul 03, 2011 7:32 am

rasb wrote:2) Men wouldn't put up with being treated like that, and Ma figured that quickly, and didn't bother with them....


Also, you can manipulate female physiology more than men's, trying to bring it closer to the male physiology. Not as far to go with the men
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby 26mi235 » Sun Jul 03, 2011 9:53 am

Not only were the records to BIG (large cuts), but there were so many that recorded times that even with the fuller influx of Kenyan and Ethiopian women no one has gotten close to the 1500, 3000, and would not be close to the 10,000 if she had run it evenly paced. The records were not soft -- the old 1500m record still has not been bettered except for this one episode.
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Master Po » Sun Jul 03, 2011 1:51 pm

This post will probably kill this thread – not because what I'm offering is so explosive that even the "Free Speech" thread can't handle it, but because, well, that's what MasterPo's posts usually do – they euthanize discussions. But let me try anyway, in the spirit of malice toward none and charity for all, and careful and complex thinking about everything, or at least the constant attempt to do that. First, a whole bunch of disclaimers:

Apologies in advance – probably the longest post I, or most anyone, will ever make. I hope it doesn't crash the system. :D

And I hope someone reads this, and I hope it fosters discussion, but I expect it won't.

I usually don't read the Free Speech Weekend Forum, but I appreciate its presence because it's the only place we can discuss this question in T&F history. I note in reading this thread that there are a dozen posters whose ideas I have tended to pay close attention to over the years: kuha, bad hammy, gh, flumpy, pego, mump boy, conor dary, nevetsllim, rasb, jon, bambam, 26m235. I have learned a lot from reading a lot of your posts, and some of what's posted by some of you on this thread I agree with, but…there's something about this historical question that leads us to stop thinking carefully.

I realize that many of you – and many other posters on these boards – have great T&F credentials, or related credentials: I have none of those. I wasn't an elite athlete, am not a coach, nor physician, nor physiologist, nor esteemed T&F historian, statistician, or journalist. (But I learn from all of you, and others.)

However, I do study China for a living (or at least part of my living). I would not call myself a "China expert" (and I would encourage you to be skeptical of anyone who calls him or herself such). But I think it helps here to have the perspective of someone who does study China, and has done so for years. What I see in Chinese women's athletics does not seem strange or questionable to me, with one major exception (or, to be specific, 3 races in one meet).

In short: I have no problem with the "Chinese women's times" that seem to cause such angst, with the exception of the 1500m heats and final at Shanghai on 17 October and 18 October 1997.

It helps if we stop looking at them as a generic group of "Chinese women's times" and look at them event by event and meet by meet, and athlete by athlete (in some cases). If we were on the other side of the world and looking at the "American sprinters" or "Jamaican sprinters" times or at Kenyan or Ethiopian distance runners generically, or at the marks put up by various northern European throwers of heavy or pointy objects, we wouldn't get very far in our analysis. Let's not do that here.

And, let's also acknowledge that athletics cultures occasionally produce extraordinary athletes who put up extraordinary times – Bolt, Radcliffe, Gebrselassie, El G, and others. In the Chinese women's athletics period of the early to mid-90s, I think there are two.

And, let's acknowledge that some athletics cultures seem to have endless capacities to produce top-level athletes in particular events or clusters of events: Kenya, Ethiopia, USA, Jamaica. It's not surprising when the greatest of the great come out of those cultures with that sort of production (though they don't always, e.g., Radcliffe).

One of the things that surprises me (as one who studies modern China, and who follows T&F, and athletics cultures generally) about the Chinese women's athletics culture over the past two decades or more is that they haven't done better in the distance events. In addition to the 1500m times from 1997, that's what is a real challenge for explanation, at least for me as a student of Chinese culture and its modernization. After 1993, I expected them to be producing top-level distance runners in the way we see them from Kenya and Ethiopia (and to some lesser extent, Japan), but that really hasn't happened. The national meets in Beijing in 1993 and Shanghai in 1997 were something of an exception, but even there, it's only the 1997 1500m that's out of line with history, in the general sense (meaning – sometimes extraordinary athletes – Bolt, Radcliffe, Gebrselassie, Bekele, El G – produce times that are out of line with "history in a general sense" – i.e., they as individuals violate our expectations of how an event usually develop).

In Chinese women's athletics from the period in question, two athletes meet this standard: Junxia Wang, and Yunxia Qu (I'm listing these names in the non-traditional given name-surname order, as they are in IAAF lists.) I wish these would be given their due, but I realize they won't, for a variety of reasons. They are lost to their own culture's restrictions (i.e., contact with press, opportunities to race in Europe, etc.), to language barriers, to the suspicions of outsiders, to the way we see them as one undifferentiated mass, and to the foregone conclusion that someone in some way, cheated.

Chinese women began appearing in WC/OG competitons in the late 80s, with little notice, as they made not a great impact in medals or times. As we all know, 1993 in Stuttgart was their big moment, but other than the surprise it generated among "us," it wasn't that big a deal:

1500m 1. Dong Liu 4:00.50
3000m 1. Yunxia Qu 8:28.71; Linli Zhang 8:29.25; Lirong Zhang 8:31.95
10000m 1. Junxia Wang 30:49.30; Huandi Zhong 31:12.55

A great meet for them, but the times were/are not outrageous, not out of line with other WC/OG winning/medal times, and certainly not of the order of "those people must be cheating." Look at the press from that meet – it's the surprise factor that shapes the interpretation. That, combined with the "we just beat the commies, and now these other commies are taking over" factor.

But as we look at the WC/OG era of the past two+ decades, what we see is – Oh, they had a great meet in 1993. From slightly before and ever since, they're in the mix with every other dominant or consistently present women's distance running culture (Ethiopia, Kenya, Japan, maybe even the USA, etc.) – they get some medals and top 10 finishes. In retrospect, they had a great meet at Stuttgart. They weren't running WRs -- they just won. Kind of like USA distance men in Tokyo 1964 – looked like the USA men were poised for greatness in the distances: two medals in the 5, gold in the 10, 6th in the marathon, and two hs kids who didn't medal but were going to escort us into the great future of distance running prominence, if not dominance. In retrospect, it looks like this – Oh, they had a great meet. Other stuff, and other athletics cultures, happened. History happened. That's what China's women got in the distances in 1993 at Stuttgart.

But what about the Chinese national meets in 1993 and 1997? Isn't that what's messed everything up in the all-time lists, even though it was Stuttgart 1993 that originally made us all bitter and suspicious?

Let's look at this meet by meet and event by event – and keep in mind that part of what I'm arguing is that they produced two fantastic distance runners in this period: Junxia Wang, and Yunxia Qu. Both of whom, frankly, never got all of the opportunities to show their greatness, due to the over-control of the athletes in the Chinese system – but that's part of my argument about the importance of the national championships in Chinese athletics, especially for the women in this time period.

The athletics development system, in the Deng Xiaoping "reform and liberalization" era that started in the early 1980s, was beginning to bear some fruit by the late 80s, and certainly in the early 90s. The athletics development system, the general athletics culture, and the culture for women, has some of the strengths and weaknesses that we see in Japan, in Kenya, in Ethiopia, and in the old USSR (but I don't mean drug/doping culture here) – in some ways, highly organized, and at least identifying talent across the country; in some ways, valorizing the strength of women while allowing them too few opportunities in society to show it; athletics providing an outlet and opportunity for social advancement, not just for the athlete but for her family and community; and so on – there's more to say on this. But the system in China also had some great problems – kind of like a funnel with a very, very wide end, and a far too tiny narrow end. Search the entire country for athletic talent, train them to within an inch of their lives with a promise/hope of glory, and then provide almost no outlets for their talents – they can't race abroad, can't change citizenship, can't hire agents or coaches, can't pursue USA collegiate careers, can't get corporate sponsorship (as in Japan), etc. etc. Out of that huge pool, 3 can go to WC/OG, and that's it. Everyone else is racing "at home" in China. Thus, the national championships became one of the most fiercely competitive meets.

The only analogy I have for this is USA or Jamaica sprinting/hurdling, or Kenya-Ethiopia distance. You have to be incredibly good to make a WC/OG team. But in those cultures, other top athletes can compete internationally, and make a living and life. For the Chinese women—of whom there were many in the system. Hardly anyone would get the chance to compete at WC/OG. Thus, the national meet was – in that period for those distances – very competitive, in an all-or-nothing sort of way.

But even there, we have to identify the exceptions, of two kinds:

--the two exceptional athletes (Wang and Qu)
--the one exceptionally strange event: 1997 Shanghai 1500m

And note these two presumptions on my part – I realize not shared by others: (1) I absolutely expected China to be deep in women's distance talent, as is Kenya and Ethiopia, and as USA and Jamaica are in sprints. Not of the exceptional level of Wang and Qu, but deep in runners capable of putting up some top times (and then never really being heard from much again, as is usually the case). (2) I think these WR times were, and are, possible, even for non-Africans. In other words, on this second point, I think women can run 3:50, 8:06, 14:28 (oops, they've already far surpassed this!), and 29:31.

So, let's look at the meets:

In the national meet in Beijing in 1993, we have:

10,000 (final, 8 September 1993):
1. Junxia Wang 29:31.78
2. Huandi Zhong 30:13.37
3. Lirong Zhang 31:09.25
4. Liyan Ma 31:10.46
My analysis: Wang is one of the great female distance runners, and in this national meet, of utmost importance – in some ways beyond the WC, she was determined to show it. Zhong, one of the other top, sort of benefitted by chasing her, running a top, but not shocking time. The others, were where I would expect. Without Wang, Zhong runs maybe 30-mid or 30-high for the win. Not shocking.

1500m (final, 11 Sept. 1993):
1. Yunxia Qu 3:50.46
2. Junxia Wang 3:51.92
3. Linli Zhang 3:57.46
4. Renmei Wang 3:58.64
5. Li Liu 3:59.34
6. Lirong Zhang 3:59.70
7. Yuan Wang 3:59.81
8. Yi Lu 4:00.05
My analysis: Two great athletes bashing each other to the limit to win a race that was of great, great importance in Chinese women's athletics, and to these two competitors, each of whom wanted to be considered the greatest Chinese women's distance runner. That's an accolade that probably doesn't mean crap to us, but our "greatest sprinter" debates don't mean much over there. After the two greats, a deep, but not outrageously deep, race. Some of the followers' times were the result of a version of what I call the "El G-Ngeny effect." A bunch of highly fit and talented followers, getting their fastest times ever in this one great race. Without Qu and Wang, this race would have been won perhaps in 3:58-3:59, or 4-low.

3000m heats (12 Sept. 1993)
Heat 1:
1. Wang 8:12.19
2. Qu 8:12.27
3. Liyan Ma 8:19.78

Heat 2:
1. Linli Zhang 8:22.06
2. Lirong Zhang 8:22.44
My analysis: Well, they put the two greats in the same heat, and the first one. Ma benefited from chasing. The other heat – fast, but not beyond what others have done. And, it needed to be fast to make the final. Not surprising there.

3000m final (13 Sept. 1993):
1. Wang 8:06.11
2. Qu 8:12.18
3. Yinli Zhang 8:16.50
4. Liyan Ma 8:21.26
My analysis: More Wang and Qu, and a couple of athletes who benefited from chasing their great battle.

Shanghai 1997

1500m heats (17 October)
Heat 1
Summary: Won in 3:57.15, with one other in 3:57, two in 3:58, and one in 3:59.
Heat 2
Summary: Won in 3:55.01, with 3 others in 3:55, and one each in 3:56, 3:57, 3:58.
(I believe that's 12 under 4:00.)

1500m final (18 October)
1. Jiang Bo 3:50.98
2. Yinglai Lang 3:51.34
Others: 2 in 3:53, one each in 3:54, 3:55, two in 3:57, one in 3:58.
My analysis: While I could try to wedge these times into the overall cultural argument I'm making, these are too many, and too exceptional, by too many athletes, all at once, and never or hardly ever again. I do think something's wrong with the timing, with the placement of the start line, or something. I'm not surprised in the heats that Heat 2 went faster than Heat 1, but beyond that, these results are problematic. I do bracket these in my own all-time lists, in the same way that I assume 10.49 from Indy in 1988 is bracketed by some or many on here.

It's worth noting in the Chinese all-time women's 1500m list, if we set aside Shanghai 1997, we have the following: Wang and Qu from Bejing 1993, and then Qu (3:57.08 Barcelona 1992) and Wang (3:58.00 Jinan 1993) as the next times on the list. I realize that some will note the gap between these two times and the two fastest they ran against each other, but I note that these are the two greats. In that one race they had their ideal 1500m moment, against each other. And beyond that, they are the top two on China's a-t list, Shanghai 1997 aside. (I realize that Qu was in the 1997 meet.)

Other distance results from Shanghai 1997 are not exceptional. For instance, the 10,000 was won in 30:38.09, with several other times in 30-high or 31-low. Deep and fast, but perhaps not disturbing.

The 5,000 was as follows:
1. Bo Jiang 14:28.09
2. Yanmei Dong 14:29.82
Others: two in high-14:30s, two in high 14:40s.
My analysis: Of course, at the time, this was WR stuff, but we seem to have calmed down about these times, since the east Africans have bested them, by a lot. Perhaps Bo Jiang was one of potential Chinese greats, but I don't know – she ran two fantastic times in that meet, and never again. Her 5,000 time is great, but no longer disturbing. Her 1500m time is among those that I bracket.

All of these times (1997 1500m aside) are as I would have expected, and as I would expect if the Kenyan or Ethiopian national meets were at sea level and were of the highest prestige. That is to say, fast, deep, as expected.

Some other thoughts, more general, but of no less importance:

In the 1980s and into the early-mid 90s, as China was developing rapidly on all fronts, the pursuit of athletics prestige was one outlet for Chinese women who found their way into the athletics system, which was also an educational and career path advancement system. The entire country was coming out of a time of great hardship, and in some ways it was both a "3rd world" and "developed" country (and still is).

I don't know the social background of every Chinese women who appears on these all-time lists, but I am fairly certain about the generalized description: Rural, working class, "peasants" so to speak. Let me generalize a bit further: Incredibly tough, strong, disciplined, capable of enduring almost anything if it has a chance of benefiting family or community. Not nearly enough opportunities for their talents. Want to stay on the farm? Work in a factory? How about getting into Ma's distance running program? They weren't just pushed to their limits – they pushed themselves to their limits. We often look at the Kenyans and Ethiopians and valorize them for their simple and rigorous lifeways, fearlessness of hard work, and their hunger for success – and the very concrete family/community benefits it brings. Same for these Chinese women. (And there are a hell of a lot more of them.)

Many of them broke, burned out, quit, or just moved on to other phases of life, especially as they realized they had very few outlets for their talents and as many realized they weren't getting rewarded for their efforts and accomplishments. In that respect, the system used them, and used up many of them to find a small handful of greats. As the nation has developed, athletes expectations have changed, and such women have more options for their talents, in a very general cultural sense.

The program of the early-mid 90s has "matured" in some ways. It now identifies fewer "greats" who have longer careers. Sun Yingjie and Zhou Chunxiu are two great examples. And, they have settled in to where I would expect their distance running culture to be – a much larger but analogous and parallel track to Japan – great marathoners and 10,000m runners. They may yet produce some greats at 1500m-5000m, but I doubt it (but more possible in China than in Japan – sheer numbers).

For those women in the 1990s, we in the West didn't grasp or believe them when there was some journalistic contact -- mostly we ridiculed them or assumed they were liars. They said they drank soup made with turtle's blood, and ate rare mushrooms, that helped endurance and strength. The journalism I saw on this mocked the Chinese, and assumed they were dissembling. I'm not making scientific claims about these foodstuffs (though I think there was a study a few years later on the mushrooms), but I can tell you that the belief that such foods do contribute to strength and endurance is widespread. That's exactly what I would have expected those women to say.

And when they reported running up to 150-200 miles a week (which I recall from some press reports), we also assumed they were lying, or trying to deceive in some way. I am confident they were being trained incredibly hard, and I know the slippage between Chinese and English on the terms for "mile." There are specific terms for "English mile" and "kilometer" and there is a general term for a unit of distance that usually is translated as "mile", but is shorter than either of the other two. I am sure that the women were reporting their mileage in their own vernacular terms.

And, I know we tend to look at their culture and see totalitarian, dominance of women, deferential to authority (especially among women, etc.) – and there are grains of truth in all that stereotyping, but one one point, I would be very surprised about these women in this period – that they would without question have submitted to injections, or pills, or however performance-enhancing substances are administered – more suspicion than you would expect about some of those "western" medicines, and I can assure you, great resistance if they saw physical changes that compromised their "femaleness" or their sense of themselves as "girls" (a term I see them use at later ages than we do in the West) or young women.

So, a giant athletics culture developing over the past ~25 years, with great national(istic) organization in some ways, and no qualms about running people into the ground, produced, in my view, two of the great female distance runners of recent decades, and an additional group who have found their way onto annual and all-time lists, or medal stands, or top 10 finishes. And, in the process, produced one very, very weird 1500m series in 1997. Other athletics cultures have produced their own short list of greats in the past few decades (and that 10.49 was produced in a national championship meet). Greatness happens, and crap happens, and history has produced new sources of female athletic talent in cultures where it wasn't being produced a generation ago. Why so hard to believe? One of the problems is that this analysis isn't simple – it doesn't write off a whole culture of athletics that we would prefer to suspect, but at the same time, it doesn't apologize for, or defend an athletics culture (that burned out many runners, and screwed up the all-time lists in the 1500m).

I realize that I can't prove any of this, and I don't expect it to persuade anyone, as minds have been made up for a long time on these issues. And, to anyone who actually read this entire post, thank you. Send me a personal message, and I'll send you payment for your time. :)
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Pego » Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:22 pm

I read it in its entirety and came out convinced that you are one exceptionally intelligent person, an erudite writer as well as somebody I would be proud to call friend. The message I'll have to think about 8-) .
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby TN1965 » Sun Jul 03, 2011 3:14 pm

This is very interesting.

It is possible that most distance runners never reach their full potential as far as the time is concerned. They try to peak for the major championships (OG or WC), but in those races, the record is not their primary concern. I remember reading that Bekele was in a "world record shape" in Beijing. But we will never know what time he was capable of running, because he was not running for the record. And when he was chasing a WR, maybe he wasn't in as good a shape. And so many little things (temparature, humidity, wind, etc.) could go wrong to slow down the race.

But imagine top runners in in their best shape, running a race under "ideal" conditions, and trying to run as fast as they could (instead of engaging in a tactical race). It is quite possible that they produce times they cannot come close to before or after.
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Flumpy » Sun Jul 03, 2011 3:32 pm

That is quite simply one of the best posts I've ever read on this or any other forum.

It has actually made me reconsider the beliefs that I have held for nearly 20 years and whilst I doubt we'll ever know the truth this comes the closest making sense of any explanation I've heard.
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Flumpy » Sun Jul 03, 2011 3:37 pm

Master Po wrote:Chinese women began appearing in WC/OG competitons in the late 80s, with little notice, as they made not a great impact in medals or times. As we all know, 1993 in Stuttgart was their big moment, but other than the surprise it generated among "us," it wasn't that big a deal:

1500m 1. Dong Liu 4:00.50
3000m 1. Yunxia Qu 8:28.71; Linli Zhang 8:29.25; Lirong Zhang 8:31.95
10000m 1. Junxia Wang 30:49.30; Huandi Zhong 31:12.55

A great meet for them, but the times were/are not outrageous, not out of line with other WC/OG winning/medal times, and certainly not of the order of "those people must be cheating."


Surely the troubling thing about the races wasn't that they won, but the manner in which they did it. If I'm not mistaken the negative splits were ridonculous and you knew whilst watching that they could have run much faster but were simply doing enough (And following the instructions) to win.
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Flumpy » Sun Jul 03, 2011 3:52 pm

TN1965 wrote:But imagine top runners in in their best shape, running a race under "ideal" conditions, and trying to run as fast as they could (instead of engaging in a tactical race). It is quite possible that they produce times they cannot come close to before or after.


This is a very good point. I remember in the late 90's early 00's when anyone of the likes of the likes of Gaby/Sonia/Gete/Berhane/Paula etc could have lowered the 5,000, record considerably but insisted on titting about and worrying that they would lose the race rather than trying to lay down a great time.

Babyface and Meseret have done the same.
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby bman » Sun Jul 03, 2011 6:14 pm

Look I'm not saying I'm an expert on this (before my time), but why is it hard to believe they were on EPO (or whatever the drug)? Seems clear to me, but like I said I wasn't around at the time. I do second many of the other factors people have mentioned, in summation saying Ma Junren was an extraordinary coach with extraordinary means, both cultural and institutional.
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby kuha » Sun Jul 03, 2011 7:08 pm

Master Po wrote:In the national meet in Beijing in 1993, we have:

10,000 (final, 8 September 1993):
1. Junxia Wang 29:31.78
2. Huandi Zhong 30:13.37
3. Lirong Zhang 31:09.25
4. Liyan Ma 31:10.46
My analysis: Wang is one of the great female distance runners, and in this national meet, of utmost importance – in some ways beyond the WC, she was determined to show it. Zhong, one of the other top, sort of benefitted by chasing her, running a top, but not shocking time. The others, were where I would expect. Without Wang, Zhong runs maybe 30-mid or 30-high for the win. Not shocking.

1500m (final, 11 Sept. 1993):
1. Yunxia Qu 3:50.46
2. Junxia Wang 3:51.92
3. Linli Zhang 3:57.46
4. Renmei Wang 3:58.64
5. Li Liu 3:59.34
6. Lirong Zhang 3:59.70
7. Yuan Wang 3:59.81
8. Yi Lu 4:00.05
My analysis: Two great athletes bashing each other to the limit to win a race that was of great, great importance in Chinese women's athletics, and to these two competitors, each of whom wanted to be considered the greatest Chinese women's distance runner. That's an accolade that probably doesn't mean crap to us, but our "greatest sprinter" debates don't mean much over there. After the two greats, a deep, but not outrageously deep, race. Some of the followers' times were the result of a version of what I call the "El G-Ngeny effect." A bunch of highly fit and talented followers, getting their fastest times ever in this one great race. Without Qu and Wang, this race would have been won perhaps in 3:58-3:59, or 4-low.

3000m heats (12 Sept. 1993)
Heat 1:
1. Wang 8:12.19
2. Qu 8:12.27
3. Liyan Ma 8:19.78

Heat 2:
1. Linli Zhang 8:22.06
2. Lirong Zhang 8:22.44
My analysis: Well, they put the two greats in the same heat, and the first one. Ma benefited from chasing. The other heat – fast, but not beyond what others have done. And, it needed to be fast to make the final. Not surprising there.

3000m final (13 Sept. 1993):
1. Wang 8:06.11
2. Qu 8:12.18
3. Yinli Zhang 8:16.50
4. Liyan Ma 8:21.26
My analysis: More Wang and Qu, and a couple of athletes who benefited from chasing their great battle.


Master Po: Many thanks for this. I truly admire your clarity, logic, and care. This is a compelling argument that deserves to be taken very seriously.

I do think, however, that you've underplayed the anomalous nature of this whole week, as well as the WAY in which some of these performances were achieved. In shorthand:

-it wasn't simply the 29:31 time that was amazing, but the fact that the last half was 14:26, and the last 3000 in 8:17--both way under the then-current WRs. By this measure, the 29:31 was probably easily "worth" 29:15, no? And for the race as a whole, best ever marks for place: 1-13.

-2 days later, 10 Sept. saw the 1500 heats, in which Qu ran 3:59.38; Wang ran 4:01.55; and the slowest qualifier, in 12th, was 4:02.44 (!).

-the next day, 11 Sept, saw the 3:50.46 WR, with Wang also under the old record; best ever marks for place: 1-2, 7-9

-the next day, 12 Sept, saw the 3000 heats; in the first the top two broke the standing WR (8:22.06, 8:22.44); in the second, Wang ran 8:12, followed by two more under 8:20 (best ever marks for place: 1-3).

-the next day, 13 Sept, saw the 3000 final, with an 8:06 winning time, Qu at 8:12, and 3 more under the original WR (best ever marks for place: 1-5).

How many "the next day"s can we really stomach here? Why the absurdly fast heats? (Not all were needed for actual advancement to the final.) Why the mass of no-name athletes destroying the previous WRs? (But I fully agree that Wang and Qu were extremely talented.)

There were a total of 14 performances under the previous WRs. There were a total of 8 under 1:59 in the 800 (which I haven't even bothered to insert in the chronology above); 7 under 4:00 in the 1500; 5 under 8:22 at 3000; and 11 under 31:33 in the 10,000.

Nothing in previous history comes remotely close to this deep, sustained, and wholesale slaughter of the record books. And absolutely nothing since has come anywhere close to duplicating it. Nothing comes close in terms of day-after-day astonishing performances from several of these athletes. That week stands, conspicuously, as a historical case study of one, and only one. And as an historian, that makes me very nervous--and very doubtful.

A short track would explain this to me, whether or not it's really possible. Drugs? Perhaps, maybe even probably, but the rest of the world had them too... High testosterone levels? Castrated men? Admittedly, the theories go from plausible to not very...

So it remains a mystery to me. But after all these years, I still do not believe them. They still simply make no sense to me.

But I do appreciate your thoughtful argument....
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Conor Dary » Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:32 am

kuha wrote:A short track would explain this to me, whether or not it's really possible. Drugs? Perhaps, maybe even probably, but the rest of the world had them too... High testosterone levels? Castrated men? Admittedly, the theories go from plausible to not very..


If it was just drugs, then why hasn't anyone else come anywhere close, especially in the 3000? For actual women, 8:22 seems to be the limit, drugs or not, but the Chinese obliterated it in large numbers and then disappeared.

I think they were all guys.....that or a short track.
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Marlow » Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:45 am

Before we get into the more esoteric voodoo theories, Occam's Razor suggests that the Rasputian force of personality (and training methods) of Coach Ma, together with some powerful 'supplements' (caterpillar soup!), enabled the Chinese women to achieve the unachievable times they did.
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Conor Dary » Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:47 am

Marlow wrote:Before we get into the more esoteric voodoo theories, Occam's Razor suggests that the Rasputian force of personality (and training methods) of Coach Ma, together with some powerful 'supplements' (caterpillar soup!), enabled the Chinese women to achieve the unachievable times they did.


I was applying Occam's Razor, and Old Ock says they were guys....
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Marlow » Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:50 am

Conor Dary wrote:I was applying Occam's Razor, and Old Ock says they were guys....

THIS is a guy??!!

http://www.sporting-heroes.net/files_at ... 8_GH_R.jpg
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby mump boy » Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:09 am

Conor Dary wrote:
I think they were all guys......


Master Po writes one of the most intelligent, well thought out, elightening, long :D posts i have ever read and this is your juvenile response ?

Classy

FWIW i think MP makes some very valid points and i don't believe 29.29 in particular is a time that is unapproachable to modern athletes at all but 8.06 is ridiculous and the depth of 1500 times is also very hard to take.

I wonder what your thoughts are on the chinese swimmers of the same period who broke every record in sight while looking like linebackers ? and also why, if indeed cultural influences had suchh a bit effect on these performances we have seen nothing even remotely approaching them since
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby jeremyp » Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:15 am

kuha wrote: -it wasn't simply the 29:31 time that was amazing, but the fact that the last half was 14:26, and the last 3000 in 8:17--both way under the then-current WRs. By this measure, the 29:31 was probably easily "worth" 29:15, no? And for the race as a whole, best ever marks for place: 1-13.

-2 days later, 10 Sept. saw the 1500 heats, in which Qu ran 3:59.38; Wang ran 4:01.55; and the slowest qualifier, in 12th, was 4:02.44 (!).

-the next day, 11 Sept, saw the 3:50.46 WR, with Wang also under the old record; best ever marks for place: 1-2, 7-9

-the next day, 12 Sept, saw the 3000 heats; in the first the top two broke the standing WR (8:22.06, 8:22.44); in the second, Wang ran 8:12, followed by two more under 8:20 (best ever marks for place: 1-3).

-the next day, 13 Sept, saw the 3000 final, with an 8:06 winning time, Qu at 8:12, and 3 more under the original WR (best ever marks for place: 1-5).

How many "the next day"s can we really stomach here? Why the absurdly fast heats? (Not all were needed for actual advancement to the final.) Why the mass of no-name athletes destroying the previous WRs? (But I fully agree that Wang and Qu were extremely talented.)

There were a total of 14 performances under the previous WRs. There were a total of 8 under 1:59 in the 800 (which I haven't even bothered to insert in the chronology above); 7 under 4:00 in the 1500; 5 under 8:22 at 3000; and 11 under 31:33 in the 10,000.

Nothing in previous history comes remotely close to this deep, sustained, and wholesale slaughter of the record books. And absolutely nothing since has come anywhere close to duplicating it. Nothing comes close in terms of day-after-day astonishing performances from several of these athletes. That week stands, conspicuously, as a historical case study of one, and only one. And as an historian, that makes me very nervous--and very doubtful.

A short track would explain this to me, whether or not it's really possible. Drugs? Perhaps, maybe even probably, but the rest of the world had them too... High testosterone levels? Castrated men? Admittedly, the theories go from plausible to not very...

So it remains a mystery to me. But after all these years, I still do not believe them. They still simply make no sense to me.

....


I absolutely concur. No such slew of incredible mass performances has ocurred in the last 60 years of Track. Unless we accept the strange cases of mass hysteria, and hysteria comes from the greek word for uterus......hmmmm?
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Conor Dary » Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:36 am

mump boy wrote:
Master Po writes one of the most intelligent, well thought out, elightening, long :D posts i have ever read and this is your juvenile response ?

Classy

but 8.06 is ridiculous and the depth of 1500 times is also very hard to take.

I wonder what your thoughts are on the chinese swimmers of the same period who broke every record in sight while looking like linebackers ? and also why, if indeed cultural influences had suchh a bit effect on these performances we have seen nothing even remotely approaching them since


You are welcome. By the way, what is your point? You seem to be agreeing with what I said. The 3000 times are ridiculous...
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby bman » Mon Jul 04, 2011 1:45 pm

My problems with Master Po's legendary post:

1. Over estimation of the "El G-Ngeny effect". Its simply not that extreme. National class runners don't just get "pulled along" to world records (records that are strong anyway, judging by their resilience, particularly in the 1500).

2. The importance of Ma Junren. We know some of his athletes tested positive before Sydney, and I also heard he had someone that was found to have used steroids in like '94 who was ostracized from the camp.

3. Influx of East German scientists into China in the early 90s. Is this true? If so, these were highly skilled people who would naturally cause a dramatic increase in performances in a new athletics country like China (with drugs obviously).

4. The "girls don't like PEDs" theory. I have never liked how people throw this idea around, that somehow no girl would want to use steroids because it could compromise what is supposedly more important to a female, her feminine body. For females who are elite athletes, I really don't think there is any evidence or validity to this.
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Conor Dary » Mon Jul 04, 2011 1:50 pm

Marlow wrote:
Conor Dary wrote:I was applying Occam's Razor, and Old Ock says they were guys....

THIS is a guy??!!

http://www.sporting-heroes.net/files_at ... 8_GH_R.jpg


Yes, there was an exception or two. But look in the Track and Field News from some of those races and my reaction was, these are women?
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby gh » Mon Jul 04, 2011 1:56 pm

mump boy wrote:.... the depth of 1500 times is also very hard to take. ...


This is the same kind of sniff test that Flojo's 10.49 flunked. There are always going to be super-outliers (think Beamonesque), but when "everybody" in the race shows a similar improvement—and can never replicate it—then you start looking for something other than a level playing field.
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby kuha » Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:10 pm

mump boy wrote:FWIW i think MP makes some very valid points and i don't believe 29.29 in particular is a time that is unapproachable to modern athletes


Why do you--and so many others--insist on being misleadingly selective in analyzing this data? For the millionth time, it wasn't simply that Wang did 29:31, even though no one has come close to that time in the last 14 years. Its that the 29:31 was done with 15:05 / 14:26 splits (last 3000 in 8:17), with both of those last two times WAY under the standing WRs. On what planet is that possible--in either 1993 or 2011? Seriously--please name the planet.

And, yes, of course 8:06 was ridiculous, just as 8:12 in a qualifying heat was ridiculous. And just as 14 performances under the previous WRs in a week by one group of athletes was ridiculous. That's a lot of ridiculouses....

At the time, many smart folks said that the records were weak and ripe for revision. Nearly 18 subsequent years of history have shown, as clearly as anything can show it, that that view was false.

I still go with the short track theory and await anyone that can actually prove it wrong.
Last edited by kuha on Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby TN1965 » Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:14 pm

What were the winning times of 800m and under in that 1993 National Meet?

And what were the men's winning times?

If the track was short, wouldn't that have affected every one (and not just women's 1500-10000)?
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby kuha » Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:33 pm

TN1965 wrote:What were the winning times of 800m and under in that 1993 National Meet?

And what were the men's winning times?

If the track was short, wouldn't that have affected every one (and not just women's 1500-10000)?


If the track was short, then of course, yes, it would have affected everyone. Naturally.

The 800 went in 1:55.54, with--as stated above--8 under 1:59.

The winning man was 1:49.27, but so what? The men were relatively bad--exactly how bad, we don't know, and don't honestly care.

What difference would it make if the track was, say, 5m short per lap? That's 10m in an 800, just shy of 19m in the 1500 and 37.5m in a 3000. Or, at 7.5m shy per lap, you have 15m in an 800, ca. 27m in the 1500, and ca. 50m at 3000.

How good was Wang? Pretty damn good, I'm sure--but I'd guess roughly 8:20 good, not 8:06 good. If that guess is right, we can then make further guesses at how short the track MIGHT have been. But can any of this be "proven" now? Probably not. And the bottom line remains: what better answer is there?
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Pentathlete 2 » Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:11 pm

Great post Master Po(ster)!

Great thread too!

Bulgaria, with a population of less than 10 million, became a world beater in weightlifting, by (in-part) identifying talent and working the heck out of them. The 'survivors' of the multiple workouts per day, lifting close to maximum frequently, program became medalists.

I've thought if Bulgaria with 10mil can do this, what can China with 1.3bil do?
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby gh » Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:28 pm

Is that the same Bulgaria which had its entire team banned from Beijing for systematic steroid abuses?
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby bambam » Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:39 pm

Pentathlete 2 wrote:Great post Master Po(ster)!

Great thread too!

Bulgaria, with a population of less than 10 million, became a world beater in weightlifting, by (in-part) identifying talent and working the heck out of them. The 'survivors' of the multiple workouts per day, lifting close to maximum frequently, program became medalists.

I've thought if Bulgaria with 10mil can do this, what can China with 1.3bil do?


Is this a serious post? As E Garry pointed out, Bulgaria became the top weightlifting nation pharmaceutically.
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Marlow » Mon Jul 04, 2011 4:27 pm

Conor Dary wrote:
Marlow wrote:
Conor Dary wrote:I was applying Occam's Razor, and Old Ock says they were guys....

THIS is a guy??!!

http://www.sporting-heroes.net/files_at ... 8_GH_R.jpg


Yes, there was an exception or two. But look in the Track and Field News from some of those races and my reaction was, these are women?


But Wang Junxia was THE star of stars!! If she's a woman (and she is), then the rest, who were not as spectacular as she, were too.
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Conor Dary » Mon Jul 04, 2011 6:47 pm

Pentathlete 2 wrote:
I've thought if Bulgaria with 10mil can do this, what can China with 1.3bil do?


NIce try, but how come with all those people they can't come up with any decent male runners?
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby gh » Mon Jul 04, 2011 6:49 pm

bingo! I won't get into any specifics (because even free-speech weekend prohibits it), but as a generalized statement, if any nation has great women's success without a concomitant rise on the men's side, well, you know.....

(and I don't believe--at least in a track sense--there has ever been a nation that has had stunning men's success and nothing on the women's side)
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Conor Dary » Mon Jul 04, 2011 6:51 pm

kuha wrote:
TN1965 wrote:What were the winning times of 800m and under in that 1993 National Meet?

And what were the men's winning times?

If the track was short, wouldn't that have affected every one (and not just women's 1500-10000)?


If the track was short, then of course, yes, it would have affected everyone. Naturally.

The 800 went in 1:55.54, with--as stated above--8 under 1:59.

The winning man was 1:49.27, but so what? The men were relatively bad--exactly how bad, we don't know, and don't honestly care.

What difference would it make if the track was, say, 5m short per lap? That's 10m in an 800, just shy of 19m in the 1500 and 37.5m in a 3000. Or, at 7.5m shy per lap, you have 15m in an 800, ca. 27m in the 1500, and ca. 50m at 3000.



How good was Wang? Pretty damn good, I'm sure--but I'd guess roughly 8:20 good, not 8:06 good. If that guess is right, we can then make further guesses at how short the track MIGHT have been. But can any of this be "proven" now? Probably not. And the bottom line remains: what better answer is there?


That is good. I like this theory.

Unfortunately, thinking more about it, it doesn't explain why there are no fast men times. I mean was this a female only track or meet?
Last edited by Conor Dary on Mon Jul 04, 2011 7:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby bman » Mon Jul 04, 2011 7:21 pm

What ever happened to good old fashioned lying about times? Who was administering this meet? Why couldn't they have just knocked some time off in the back room without anyone knowing?

I personally would like to believe that they were drug assisted but otherwise legit. I hold the view that there was in fact some secrets Coach Ma had in his camp (besides drugs). As a coach I have come to think we are missing huge amounts of information about what goes into athletes preforming well.
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Conor Dary » Mon Jul 04, 2011 7:49 pm

bman wrote:What ever happened to good old fashioned lying about times? Who was administering this meet? Why couldn't they have just knocked some time off in the back room without anyone knowing?

I personally would like to believe that they were drug assisted but otherwise legit.


Yes, lying could be an answer, but why would the men be left out?

As for drugs, why would they be so effective for the Chinese, but not for anyone else? It is not like no one else has tried.
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby bman » Mon Jul 04, 2011 7:54 pm

Conor Dary wrote:Yes, lying could be an answer, but why would the men be left out?


Perhaps because it was known the men could not compete at the World championships in Stuttgart.

As for drugs, why would they be so effective for the Chinese, but not for anyone else? It is not like no one else has tried.


There's only one Ma Junren.
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Conor Dary » Mon Jul 04, 2011 7:56 pm

bman wrote:
There's only one Ma Junren.


Thank god for that.
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby bman » Mon Jul 04, 2011 8:15 pm

Conor Dary wrote:
bman wrote:
There's only one Ma Junren.


Thank god for that.


I think a lot of his athletes left after 93 which could be another factor here to consider.
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby TN1965 » Mon Jul 04, 2011 9:38 pm

bman wrote:What ever happened to good old fashioned lying about times?


My initial reaction to the negative split in 10000m was "they must have miscounted the laps and felt too embarassed to admit it. So they 'made up' those spilts to make it look like they actually ran 25 laps." And that record looked more like a time for 9600m.
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby AS » Mon Jul 04, 2011 9:42 pm

I seem to recall there being video footage of the meet... in which case the miscounted lap and made-up-time conspiracies would be easily disproved...
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Powell » Tue Jul 05, 2011 5:27 am

gh wrote:(and I don't believe--at least in a track sense--there has ever been a nation that has had stunning men's success and nothing on the women's side)


Sweden was one - they were a major force in certain periods (especially in the first few years after WW2), but had no success on the women's side pretty much right until the 1980s.

Of course things changed for them in the last 20 years, and they've now had a good few major female stars.
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby kuha » Tue Jul 05, 2011 6:09 am

AS wrote:I seem to recall there being video footage of the meet... in which case the miscounted lap and made-up-time conspiracies would be easily disproved...


Let's see it. It SHOULD exist, but does it?
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Re: Chinese female world records

Postby gh » Tue Jul 05, 2011 6:49 am

Powell wrote:
gh wrote:(and I don't believe--at least in a track sense--there has ever been a nation that has had stunning men's success and nothing on the women's side)


Sweden was one - they were a major force in certain periods (especially in the first few years after WW2), but had no success on the women's side pretty much right until the 1980s.

Of course things changed for them in the last 20 years, and they've now had a good few major female stars.


I'm speaking of the era since male hormones became available to women.
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