IAAF

IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations)

Who is Xie Zhenye? Meet China’s new fastest man and find out why fans are talking of their very own Usain Bolt

The 24-year-old is an Adidas brand ambassador and considers an appearance on variety TV as more tiring than running the 100m

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 June, 2018, 4:30pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 June, 2018, 10:47pm

When Xie Zhenye became China’s fastest man this week by breaking Su Bingtian’s national record, there were many left asking – who is he?

He may not be a huge name outside the mainland, but Xie is well-known at home for his big stride and imposing gait as he steams down the track.

The 24-year-old is still adjusting to the spotlight, however, and has been quoted as saying his appearance on variety show Day Day Up – or Tiantian Xiangshang in Chinese – was more tiring than running the 100m.

Xie and his teammates appeared on the show after winning a silver medal in the 4x100m at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing.

Fans were quick to throw their support behind Xie after his win this week, with some dreaming of the day that China has its very own Usain Bolt.

“Chinese sprinting is certainly on an upwards curve,” tweeted one netizen.

Wishful thinking on the Bolt front, perhaps, but they may just have a new hero after Xie’s blistering 100-metre win at the Meeting de Montreuil in Paris.

While he might not yet be a huge name, Xie has by no means come from the clouds. He’s been slowly building up to the personal-best 9.97 seconds he recorded this week.

He made it to the semi-finals at the Rio Olympics in 2016 – finishing seventh – and also holds China’s 200m record, a mark he set in Japan last month.

Xie was signed by Adidas as a brand ambassador earlier this year and is currently studying a master's degree at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou.

“Join us in extending congratulations to Xie Zhenye. We are proud that our 24-year-old master’s candidate in athletic training has become China’s fastest man,” tweeted the university.

Xie made it to the semi-finals at last year’s IAAF World Championships in London but bombed out, with his countryman Su progressing to the final.

Xie was turning heads in the athletics world as far back as 2010 with a gold medal in the 200m at the Youth Olympics and is improving as he comes into his prime, with this week’s win seeing him trim 0.07 seconds off his previous personal best.

Xie Zhenye becomes China’s fastest man with blistering 100-metre sprint to break Su Bingtian’s record

Xie is coached by American Rana Reider and his effort even prompted former Trinidad and Tobago sprinter Ato Boldon, who won four Olympic medals, to take to Twitter.

“Coach Rana Reider told me earlier this year to expect this,” Boldon said on retweeting Xie’s efforts.