Liu looks for Asiad stepping stone to worlds, Olympics

Updated: Nov 21, 2010, 10:04 AM IST

Guangzhou: Star Chinese athlete Liu Xiang
will bid to use the Asian Games as a stepping stone to bigger
and better things at the 2011 Daegu world championships and
the London Olympics a year later.

Liu, who kicks off his attempt to snag a third successive
110m hurdles Asiad gold with heats on Monday, is a pin-up in
his home country, where his success and marketability has
helped make him a multi-millionaire.

When he limped out of a heat at the 2008 Beijing
Olympics, the hopes of a nation went with him.

But the 27-year-old is keen to get back to the levels of
performance that saw him become the first Chinese Olympic
track gold medallist, at the 2004 Athens Games, and holder of
the world record.

"I hope next year`s World Championships and the Olympics
the year after the next will give me another chance to show
people what I can do," Liu said in an interview.

"I hope I will be able to take advantage of this
opportunity. After all, I`m already 27 years old and can`t run
for much longer, but I care about all opportunities I have
now."

Liu`s injured achilles tendon, subsequent surgery and
rehabilitation have come under much scrutiny in China, and the
hurdler admitted that his training had been tough.

"It will be very difficult for me to get back to the
condition I was in before the injury, but I need to try," said
Liu, who lost almost 4kg on a training camp in the United
States.

"When I train, I try to awaken the memories of winning
the Olympic gold and breaking the world record.”

"I`m in a good situation now after all my effort. I know
I don`t have a lot of opportunities left, so the question is
whether I can grasp them. I am someone who cherish
opportunities."

Liu added: "In the past two years, I participated in far
fewer competitions than in 2005 and 2006, and didn`t perform
as well either.”

"Now I`m trying to make up for what I lost (due to
injuries). I have faith that I can come back and that I`m
still good. I know I still have room for growth.”

"Everything I`ve been doing this year though has been in
preparation for the Asian Games, so it`s worth it. I must do
my best," Liu said.

Liu and his coaches believe, however, that a time of
13.30sec should be enough to win the gold medal, ruling out a
bid for the world record as unrealistic.

Although he has often downplayed Asian meets and openly
said he prefers running in global events, Liu stayed away from
the international circuit the past summer due to his injury,
only appearing at an IAAF Diamond League meet in May in
Shanghai.

At that outing, Liu placed third, finishing in 13.40sec
behind American David Oliver at 12.99 and teammate Shi
Dongpeng at 13.39.

It was the first time that long-time teammate Shi had
beaten Liu in a major race, and Liu has acknowledged that Shi
will be his toughest competitor come Monday`s heats and the
final on Wednesday.

"I hope he has fully prepared to race at the Asian
Games," Liu said of Shi.

"My goal is of course the three consecutive championship
titles, so hopefully no one (is too much competition)."

Bureau Report

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