Podium finishes boost star hurdler's growing confidence
Updated: 2011-02-15 07:52
By Lei Lei (China Daily)
BEIJING - After finishing third in two recent meets in Germany, China's former Olympic champion hurdler, Liu Xiang, believes he is on pace to return to the top of his sport after recovering from a serious foot injury.
Although still far from his best form, Liu said the two races in Europe had boosted confidence and he is now targeting the 2012 London Olympic Games.
"I'm satisfied with these two results in Germany as they reflect my real training condition at present," said Liu, the former world record holder.
"I'm always confident and the results here have further boosted my confidence. The aim for me here was to test myself in a competitive environment. I can say I achieved that goal and I can now prepare for the outdoor season."
Liu hit the European indoor circuit in Duesseldorf on Friday and continued his campaign in Karlsruhe two days later.
In Duesseldorf, Liu clocked 7.60 seconds to finish third in the 60m hurdles, behind Petr Svoboda of the Czech Republic and America's Kevin Craddock. In Karlsruhe, he finished behind David Oliver of the United States, who clocked 7.40, and France's Dimitr Bascou, who ran a personal best of 7.53. Liu's 7.55 was 0.13 off his indoor best of 7.42, which was set in February 2007.
It was Liu's first appearance in Europe since March 2008, when he claimed the world indoor title in Valencia, Spain.
Soon after that, his career was hobbled by the injury, which forced him to withdraw from the Beijing Olympic men's 110m hurdles in the first round.
He made a brief comeback in 2009 and also in early 2010 before taking an extended break to heal the injury. The 27-year-old returned to form at the Guangzhou Asian Games last November, where he timed 13.09 in claiming his third successive Asian Games title. He ended the season as the third fastest hurdler outdoors.
"Four year ago, Liu set a new Asian record while winning in Germany. Although the result this time was not as impressive, it's enough to warn his rivals that he is getting his pace back," said Feng Shuyong, vice-director of China's Athletic Association.
"Within 45 hours, Liu ran four times in two major events. That's something he has not experienced in almost four years. The biggest thing he learned here is that he can do it," said Feng, who accompanied Liu to Germany.
Liu missed the chance to run against his biggest rival, the current world record holder Dayron Robles of Cuba, as Robles withdrew from the Duesseldorf meet due to injury.
Although he lost the showdown in Karlsruhe with Oliver, the top performer in the hurdles last season, Liu said he felt relaxed and satisfied.
"Oliver is at his peak time right now as he finished within 13 seconds several times last year," Liu said. "It was my first meet with him and my strategy is to follow him. I felt no pressure at all and it was a good race for me."
Liu returns to his hometown of Shanghai today to start preparations for the outdoor season which begins in May.
His next challenge will be the Kawasaki Super Meet in Japan on May 8, followed by a home race in Shanghai a week later.
(China Daily 02/15/2011 page24)
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