Huina Xing came from nowhere to win the gold medal in the women's 10,000 metres in Athens in one of the biggest surprises of the 2004 Olympic Games. Xing, aged 20, making her first Olympic appearance, clocked a winning time of 30 mins 24.36 secs, with a 62 secs last lap.
Finishing seventh in the 10,000 metres in the 2003 World Championship in Paris and ninth in the 5,000 metres seven days earlier in Athens, Xing did not appear to be a serious contender, but she took more than seven seconds off her personal best, clocking 30 mins 24.36 secs to become the Olympic champion. She said: “It's a surprise of all the surprises. I never expected that it could happen. The failure in the 5,000 metres was a blow to me, but it also worked my way as I had no pressure any more."
In 1999 Xing attracted the attention of coach Wang Dexian in 1999. Her 10,000 metres debut was in 2001 and she made an immediate breakthrough the following year, aged 18, with her third place finish at the Asian Games. The following year she set a World Junior record of 30:31.55 at the World Championships. In the build-up to Athens this year, she competed sparingly, although she did score a double win at the Chinese National Championships in May, winning the 1500 metres and the 5,000 metres.