Athletics: Ma's secret potion a tonic for world trade: Chinese guru attracts pounds 1.25m worth of orders for his magic medicine

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Ma Junren, the coach who trains China's squad of brilliant women runners, is marketing the potion he claims to be partly responsible for their remarkable ahievements on the track, with similar success.

Sold as 'Ma's Tonic No 1' the potion attracted widespread interest at an international trade fair in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, the Chinese-language Ta Kung Pao newspaper reported. Buyers from the United States, Britain, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong have placed orders for more than pounds 1.25m.

Ma claims the potion drastically cuts down the effects of physical fatigue. He refuses to divulge its recipe, which he says he has been developing for 24 years, but the potion is laced with turtle meat and blood.

In January, Ma sold his formula to a nutritional firm, Guangdong Today Holdings, for pounds 1m.

Ma became famous when his squad of women's runners, known as 'Ma's Army', demolished three world records last summer. Led by Wang Junxia they set new marks in the 1500 metres, 3,000m and 10,000m.