Liu Xiang (刘翔) is back!

The 27-year old former world record holder breezed through the heats of the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, posting the fastest qualifying time (13.48s) in a modest field. Liu Xiang’s mid-13 second clocking, whilst highly competitive in Asian hurdling circles, is a far cry from Liu’s most stellar performances. Watching the clip of the race, it seems as if my idol was a tad bit less explosive.

Photo from chinadaily.com.cn and Xinhua

Korea’s Park Tae-Kyong, 3rd at the 2002 Asian Games, finished a distant second to Liu in the 1st heat (13.68s). 21-year old Chamras Rittedet of Thailand, the SEA Games Champion, stopped the clock at 13.82 – new personal best.

Results from gz2010.cn

It was a much better race than two of Liu’s most recent races in the 2010 World Indoor Championships and a Diamond League meet in Shanghai.

I’m quite stumped at Shi Dong Peng’s (史冬鹏) sub-par performance in the 2nd heat (13.82s). The past two years should have been Big Shi’s time to shine, in light of Liu’s injury. But the second-best Chinese hurdler never seemed to have retained his razor-sharp form in 2007, where Shi ran to a PB of 13.19s.

Read the Chinadaily article here

As Liu cleared the first few hurdles, shadows of his once potent self unraveled. The smooth hurdle clearances with his swooping lead arm, the snappy short-long-short three stride pattern was vintage Liu Xiang. Although the Chinese icon slowed down as he neared the tape, gone was the reluctance so evident in his injury-marred races of yesterday.

Read Liu Xiang and the Asian Games

In light of the relatively weak competition, Liu is a sure cinch to bag his third successive sprint hurdling crown in this Wednesday’s final – a significant albeit modest step towards London 2012!

Here’s my fearless forecast for the 110m high hurdles final: (1) Liu Xiang of course! (2) Chamras Rittedet and (3) Park Tae-Kyong or Shi Dong Peng.

Video credit

cctv7military

Additional link:

More Liu Xiang photos

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