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October 26, 2009

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Home » Sports » National Games

Liu on track after record Games win

ATHENS Olympic champion Liu Xiang ignited a soldout Olympic sports center in Jinan, Shandong Province, with victory in the men's 110-meter hurdles finals at the 11th National Games last night.

The 26-year-old Shanghai native, who finished second at the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix last month, exploded out of the starting blocks and hit the line first with a last-gasp burst in 13.34 seconds.

The result was good enough for the 2007 world champion to win the title, but far off his former world record and personal best of 12.88.

"I just wanted to keep the pace, keep steady. I kept watching my opponents during the race. I didn't put in my utmost effort to spurt," Liu said after the race.

Ji Wei of the People's Liberation Army, who placed first in Saturday's semifinal ahead of Liu, finished second in 13.42. Shi Dongpeng of Hebei Province was third in 13.63.

Liu made an iconic bug-eyed expression to amuse the audience before the race. The former record holder trotted around the stadium after crossing the line, waving to the 50,000-strong crowd, attracting thunderous cheers and applause.

"Thanks a lot for the Shandong people's support and also the media. I felt great tonight," Liu added.

The race was Liu's first since he staged his comeback from Achilles tendon surgery last month at the Shanghai meet. He finished second in a wind-aided 13.15 seconds after crossing the line neck and neck with American Terrence Trammell.

"After I underwent surgery, I had doubts about myself and could not see my future. But with one race after another, I have gradually recovered. I believe in myself now," said Liu.

As the first Chinese male athlete to win an Olympic track gold, Liu is one of the nation's favorite sports icon, along with another Shanghai hero, Houston Rockets center Yao Ming.

Liu's victory last night made him the first Chinese athlete to win an event at three straight Games. "To be a triple champion is great. I still hope to win a fourth time," said Liu.


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