Liu Xiang celebrates his 60m hurdles victory (© Getty Images)
Former World and Olympic champion Liu Xiang of China has confirmed his participation at next week’s IAAF World Indoor Championships in Doha, Qatar.
It will be Liu Xiang’s first global competition since the Chinese superstar withdrew injured from the heats of the Beijing Olympic Games in front of over 90,000 spectators for what was arguably the most intense moment for Chinese fans and sportsmen at the 2008 Games.
After surgery in December 2008, Liu Xiang returned to competition at the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix on 20th September 2009 and finished second to USA’s Terrence Trammell in 13.15. He went on to compete at the National Championships, Asian Championships and then the East Asian Games but did not break the 13.3 barrier.
However, Liu Xiang hadn’t competed indoors since his World Indoor title in Valencia 2008 and was unsure of his ability to run a 60m Hurdles. A competition was specifically organised in Shanghai, last weekend (26 February) in order for Liu Xiang to assess his fitness; the former World record holder finished fourth in 8.05, despite heavily hitting the first hurdle.
Considering his race as a good enough test, Liu Xiang decided to take part in what will be his third World Indoor Championships after he secured silver in his inaugural participation in Budapest 2004 and gold two years ago in Spain.
At 26 years of age, Liu Xiang is a traditional figure of international hurdling and knows the depth of the event has never been as intense as these last few years. He admitted that he has no concrete chances of defending his World indoor title but his aim will be to make it to the final.
“Dayron (Robles) and Terrence (Trammell) are very competitive,” he said. “I will be happy to make the final.”
Liu Xiang is still facing a recurrent injury and has admitted that his right foot is not fully recovered. However his long-standing coach Sun Haiping is convinced that his protégé, the 2007 World outdoor champion, is still capable of returning to his best shape.
Doha maybe too soon for Liu Xiang to recover his full potential especially considering the quality of his opponents led by World 110m Hurdles record holder Dayron Robles and 2010 world indoor season leader Terrence Trammell who both look to next week’s championships as redemption time.
Robles, a World indoor silver medallist in 2006 and the reigning Olympic champion was the man to beat in Valencia two years ago but a misjudgement at the start of the first heat ruled him out of any chances of a qualifying spot let alone a medal or the title. Devastated, Robles was consoled by Liu Xiang and the Cuban went on to win the Olympic title in Beijing and this time he was the one to comfort a distressed Liu Xiang.
Trammell, for his part, will aim at matching his compatriot Allen Johnson’s hat trick of World Indoor titles following his wins in 2001 and 2006. Trammell famously won two Olympic and three World Championships silver medals but his recent form shows that he will not settle for silver this time around.
IAAF with Titan Sports