Mon, June 04, 2012
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Liu Xiang's hurdles time never surpassed

2012-06-03 02:21:11 GMT2012-06-03 10:21:11(Beijing Time)

Liu Xiang (C) of China leads David Oliver (L) and Jason Richardson of the United States over the last hurdle in the men's 110m hurdles at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League track meet in Eugene, Oregon June 2, 2012. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola

Liu Xiang of China celebrates winning the men's 110m hurdles at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League track meet in Eugene, Oregon June 2, 2012. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola

No one has ever run the 110 meters hurdles faster than China's Liu Xiang did on Saturday, wind or no wind, but the former world record holder was not ready to proclaim himself the king of the event again.

He thrust his arms in celebration after running 12.87 seconds, a performance that would have equaled Cuban Dayron Robles' world record but for a 2.4 meters per second win in Eugene - just 0.4 mps over the allowable for record purposes.

Perhaps aware of how the stunning performance will increase expectations in China, Liu tried to downplay its implications no matter how reporters at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meeting phrased their questions.

Did he think he could now break the record?

"No, I never think about that," he said.

Did he now consider himself the favorite for the Olympic gold medal in London?

"I am already the (2004) Olympic champion in Athens," he said through a translator. "So I never think about that. It is just a race for me."

But no ordinary race.

Only Robles with his 2008 world record and U.S. double Olympic champion Roger Kingdom have matched the time.

Kingdom's 1989 run, like Liu's, was wind-assisted.

"You never think about what time you can run," said Liu.

But the performance obviously sent shockwaves around the hurdles world, especially to Cuba and Robles, who had been scheduled to come to Eugene but pulled out when his visa was delayed.

The Cuban's next race, slated to be in New York on June 9 in the Beijing Olympic champion's first U.S. visit, will no doubt be closely watched.

For Liu, he can only hope to avoid injuries like the heartbreaking Achilles problem that forced him to drop out of the heats in Beijing four years ago and later required surgery.

He showed he had regained his fitness last month when he clocked 12.97, the yearly leader and his fastest time in five years, in his hometown of Shanghai.

A change in his approach to the first hurdle has helped tremendously as well.

"The most surprising thing for me (this year) is the change for the start, from eight to seven steps," said Liu, whose best non-wind assisted time is 12.88, the world record for two years before Robles broke it.

And even in his joy on Saturday, Liu found room for improvement.

"I think my start was good," he said, "but I think I made some mistakes from the third to the sixth hurdles.

"Maybe the wind pushed me," Liu said.



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