Since it’s Asian Games time again, I couldn’t help but watch Liu Xiang’s 刘翔 gold medal-winning performances in Busan and Doha. The 2002 Busan race was memorable. I was just starting out with the sport. I became an instant Liu Xiang fan once I saw him race! I even recorded the event on VHS; hence the grainy format.
Read my “Sidekicks” post on Liu Xiang
2002 Busan Asian Games – 110m High Hurdles (from Todor Krastev):
- Liu Xiang 刘翔 (CHN) – 13.27s
- Satoru Tanigawa (JPN) – 13.83s
- Park Tae-Kyong 박태경 (KOR) – 13.89s
- Dongpeng Shi 史冬鹏 CHN 13.92s
- Mubarak Atah SAR 14.07s
- Mohammed Aissa Al-Thawadi QAT 14.26s
- Mohd Faiz Mohammed MAS 14.57s
- Jung-Ho Lee KOR 14.61s
Satoru Tanigawa of Japan was a far second, almost six hundredths of a second behind the then 19-year Liu Xiang. 18-year old Shi Dong Peng 史冬鹏 – the other half of the high hurdling Chinese duo – dropped out of contention for the medals after he clipped a hurdle. 2002 was the year Liu Xiang broke Renaldo Nehemiah’s world junior record, when the latter stopped the clock at 13.12s (over senior hurdles, not the junior ones!) in Lausanne, Switzerland.Fast-forward four years later in the Doha edition of the Asiad. Liu Xiang is now a household name in China, with world championship bronze and silver medals, an Olympic gold and a world record (12.88s, also set in Lausanne) to his name.
Liu was a monster in the race. He was a lot quicker in between hurdles; his technical proficiency was at a different level. Liu was the epitome of the complete sprint hurdler. Now 23-year old, Liu was approaching the peak of his physical fitness. The winning margin was not as glaring as in 2002, since Shi Dong Peng is a decent hurdler in his own right. Liu clocked 13.15s as he practically jogged to the tape once the victory was his. Big Shi ran a respectable 13.28s, one-hundredths of a second off Liu’s winning time four years ago.
2006 Doha Asian Games – 110m High Hurdles (from Wikipedia)
- Liu Xiang (CHN) – 13.15s
- Shi Dong Peng (CHN) – 13.28s
- Naito Masato (JPN) – 13.60s
- Park Tae-Kyong (KOR) – 13.67s
- Tasuku Takonaka (JPN) – 13.88s
- Mohammed Essa Al-Thawadi (KSA) – 13.89s
- Lee Jung-Joon (KOR) – 13.91s
- Hassan Mohd Robani (MAS) – 14.04s
Comparing the results of the two editions, one can see the dramatic increase in the level of competition. If the 2002 silver medalist, Tanigawa (13.83s) ran in Doha, he would have placed a dismal fifth! Perhaps the improvement in the quality of performances can be attributed to Liu Xiang’s rise to the top – and the subsequent emergence of the sprint hurdles as the centerpiece event in Asian athletics.Under much criticism, Liu was given a “free pass” to the Guangzhou Asian Games. The 2004 Olympic Champion was allowed to miss the national championships, in light of his recovery from his troublesome Achilles. I personally believe that an athlete of Liu’s stature should be given this special treatment. It’s not like he doesn’t deserve the extra lee-way. Despite all the challenges, I wish the best for my idol!
Also, godspeed to all the Filipino athletes competing in the 2011 Asiad, especially the tracksters – Arniel Ferrera (Hammer Throw), Mariz Torres (Long Jump), Henry Dagmil (Long Jump), Rosie Villarito (Javelin Throw), Danilo Fresnido (Javelin Throw), Rene Herrera (Steeplechase) and Eduardo Buenavista (Marathon).