Liu Xiang grabs gold at National Games

2009-10-27 08:21 BJT

Special Report: 11th National Games |

Liu Xiang ignites passions with victory in 13.34 at National games
The 11th Chinese National Games reached a high point on Sunday night. Athens Olympic champion Liu Xiang ignited a sold-out Olympic sports center crowd with his appearance in the men's 110m hurdles final.

Liu's star power brought nearly 60,000 fans into the stadium. This race was Liu's first since he staged his comeback from Achilles tendon surgery last month at the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix,where he finished second in a wind-aided 13.15 seconds. Liu Xiang finished eighth in Saturday's heats with a time of 13.75 seconds, but safely advanced into the final round.

So as the country's top hurdlers approached the starting line on Sunday...Liu Xiang would run in the fifth lane, and his Shanghai teammate, Shi Dongpeng, lined up to his left in lane 4. Top rival Ji Wei of the Peoples Liberation Army placed first in the heats. He took the sixth lane, immediately to Liu Xiang's right. And Xie Wenjun lined up on the right of Ji Wei.  His coach is Sun Haiping, who also trains Liu Xiang.  Finally, World Universiade champion Yin Jin would try to challenge from the ninth lane. The crowd held its breath as the runners waited for the gun.

Liu Xiang exploded out of the starting blocks...and the 26-year old star used a final burst of speed to hit the finish line first in 13.34 seconds. The victory made history for the former record holder. He is now the first Chinese track athlete to win the same event in three straight National Games.

After the race, Liu said. to be a triple champion was great. After all, he took the first title at the age of 18. Now he is 26. He says he hopes to win a fourth title next time. Liu says it is the number one dream for any Chinese athlete to win the national title.

Liu Xiang's winning time fell far short of his former world record and personal best of 12.88 seconds. But it was good enough for the 2007 world champion to win at the National Games.  Liu said it's another step that will help bring his confidence back.

Liu Xiang, the national champion said, he never thought of winning the title again in the past two years. He said he doubted himself and his future sometimes, and did not know what his future would be. But, he says now, after every match and training session following his recovery, he's realizing that he is still OK, and that he must believe in himself.

This exciting race brought all of China to a standstill to witness another chapter in Liu Xiang's story. As the first Chinese male athlete to win an Olympic track gold, Liu is one of the nation's favorite sports stars, like NBA Houston Rockets' center Yao Ming. Supporters were shocked and heartbroken when Liu limped out of the Bird's Nest last year at the Beijing Olympics due to his foot injury. Now the 26-year-old has come back as the number one 110-meter hurdler in China.

So Liu takes the gold for his Shanghai team. Ji Wei finished second in 13.42 to take a silver for the PLA, and Liu's national teammate, Shi Dongpeng, finished with 13.63 to win the bronze.

Editor: James | Source: