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    Athletes start off at the Xiamen International Conference & Exhibition Center at the Xiamen International Marathon in Xiamen, southeast China's Fujian Province, Jan. 2, 2010.

    XIAMEN, Southeast China, Jan. 2 -- The 2010 Xiamen International Marathon kicked off Saturday morning with a record of 48,000 runners contending for honors in full marathon, half marathon, 10-km and 5-km races.

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    Athletes start off at the Xiamen International Conference & Exhibition Center at the Xiamen International Marathon in Xiamen, southeast China' Fujian Province, Jan. 2, 2010.

        Mugo Samuel Muturi of Kenya, defending champion in the men's race, set an event record of 2:08:51 last year. But Muturi, also the winner of the 2009 Beijing Marathon, faces stiff challenge this year as 15 others in the men's group have a personal best of under 2:10:00, among whom Bazu Worku of Ethiopia is the fastest with 2:06:15.

        After a clean sweep of top three in the women's race last year, China's dominance looks shaky this year due to the absence of a handful of elite runners, including reigning world champion Bai Xue.

        The Xiamen International Marathon, which was launched in 2003 and hailed by IAAF as the Gold Label Road Race, is renowned for its charming seaside scenic course. The whole course follows largely the scenic sections of the coastal city.

     

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    Athletes start off at the Xiamen International Conference & Exhibition Center at the Xiamen International Marathon in Xiamen, southeast China's Fujian Province, Jan. 2, 2010.

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    Athletes start off at the Xiamen International Conference & Exhibition Center at the Xiamen International Marathon in Xiamen, southeast China's Fujian Province, Jan. 2, 2010.

    (Xinhua/Jiang Kehong)

  •     BEIJING, Dec. 27 -- Xinhua News Agency selected the top 10 sports news of China in 2009:

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    The flag of 24th World Winter Universiade is escorted into Harbin International Conference, Exhibition and Sports Centre Gym at the opening ceremony of the 24th World Winter Universiade in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Feb.18, 2009.

        1. Northeast Chinese city Harbin hosted the 24th World Winter University Games from Feb. 18 to 28, in which China topped the medal tally with a 18-18-12 record.

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    Chinese table tennis players pose during the awarding ceremony of the men's singles and women's singles at the world table tennis championships in Yokohama, Japan, May 2009.

        2. China clean-swept five gold medals at the world table tennis championships, which took place in Yokohama, Japan, from April 28 to May 5.

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    Members China's national badminton team celebrate at the awarding ceremony of the 2009 Sudirman Cup World Team Badminton Championships in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, on May 17, 2009.

        3. China won its seventh Sudirman Cup world mixed team badminton championships on May.

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    Zhang Lin shows the gold medal after the men's 800m freestyle swimming final at the World Championships in Rome, Italy, July 29, 2009.

        4. Zhang Lin became China's first ever men's swimming world champion as he bettered Australian Grant Hackett's world record by over six seconds to win the 800m freestyle at the Rome Worlds on July 30.

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    People practise Taiji in front of the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest in Beijing, capital of China, August 8, 2009.

        5. Exactly one year after the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games, China inaugurated "National Fitness Day" on Aug. 8.

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    Liu Xiang of China celebrates the victory with the national flag after the final of men's 110m hurdles at the 18th Asian Athletics Championships in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, Nov. 12, 2009. Liu won the gold with 13.50 seconds.

        6. Star hurdler Liu Xiang came back after a sudden pullout from the 2008 Olympics, finishing second at the Golden Grand Prix in Shanghai on Sept. 20. The 2004 Olympic gold medalist then triumphed in the Chinese National Games in October, the Asian athletics championships in November and the East Asian Games in December.

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    Photo taken on Oct. 16, 2009 shows the art performance before the opening ceremony of the 11th Chinese National Games in Jinan, east China's Shandong Province.

        7. Shandong hosted the 11th Chinese National Games from Oct. 16 to 28, in which five world records were rewritten.

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    Lu Xiaojun of China takes a lift during the the men's weightlifting 77kg  at the world weightlifting championships in Gaoyang of Guangdong Province,China, Nov. 24, 2009.

        8. China claimed 18 gold, 11 silver and 10 bronze medals to top the world weightlifting championships in Goyang, South Korea, in November.

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    Criminal suspects stand on trial at the court for soccer corruption in Yixing of Jiangxi Province, China, Dec. 11, 2009.

        9. A nationwide crackdown was launched by police on match-fixing and gambling in the Chinese professional soccer leagues at the end of 2009. Chinese soccer has been a long disappointment to the fans with its poor quality of play, violence, corruption and match-fixing.

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    China's national flag and the flag of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region are raised during the opening ceremony of the 2009 East Asian Games in Hong Kong, south China, Dec. 5, 2009.

        10. Hong Kong hosted the 5th East Asian Games from Dec. 5 to 13,drawing 2,300 athletes from China, Chinese Taipei, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Guam, Japan, Macao of China, Mongolia, South Korea and Hong Kong of China.

     

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    Zheng Jie of China returns a shot to Lucie Safarova of Czech Republic during their match at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Toronto August 20, 2009.

    BEIJING: China's number two Zheng Jie has no plans to return to the state sports system and is happy with her first year of self-management despite the extra effort and lack of security it entailed.

    Along with compatriots Li Na, Yan Zi and Peng Shuai, the 26-year-old was this year freed from the obligation to be managed by the China Tennis Association (CTA), and pay 65 percent of her winnings for the privilege.

    CTA chief Sun Jinfang said last month she thought Zheng was in decline and, like other "less talented and more hardworking" players, would be better off back inside the national system.

    Zheng, who finished last season ranked 35th in the world with $534,172 in winnings, said it was inevitable that the first year of managing herself would have been a learning experience.

    "I am one of the first to try this and in the first year, I crossed the river feeling the stones," Zheng told China Weekly magazine.

    "My obligation is to try my best to get good results. As to whether I am suitable for self-management, I am not sure what is the standard we judge by, ranking or prize money?"

    Zheng was the first Chinese player to reach the last four of a grand slam when she lost in the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year, and followed that up with a doubles bronze at the Beijing Olympics.
    [Agencies]

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