Liu Xiang 刘翔 Opens 2012 Outdoor Season

In less-than-ideal conditions, Liu Xiang (刘翔) made an auspicious outdoor debut at the Super Grand Prix in Kawasaki.The rain-marred competition even saw a temporary halt in the pole vault, according to an IAAF report. Nevertheless, the 2004 Athens Olympic Champion ran over the barriers superbly, stopping the clock in 13.09s – a mere two-hundredth of a second from his 2011 season opener.

Liu was practically unchallenged. He led from start to finish. Omo Osaghae of the USA finished a far second (13.33s), with Ronald Brookins (13.69s) and Tatsuya Wado (13.71s) rounding up third and fourth, respectively. Liu’s understudy, Shi Dongpeng (史冬鹏), clocked a measly 13.71 for fifth place – a far cry from his 13.19s personal best from 2007.

And yet, Liu had a noticeable grimace on his face as he negotiated the 1.067m high barriers.

On one hand, I’m absolutely ecstatic at Liu’s resurgence. On the other hand, I can’t help but feel bad about the once promising Shi – the 2002 World Junior silver medalist and a two-time World Championship finalist. Since the 2007 season, his performance had dipped considerably. His 2012 season’s best is at a mere 13.63s. C’mon, Big Shi! Snap out of it!

Photo from p358.com

While watching the clip of the race, I was somewhat struck by Liu’s change in wardrobe. I’ve seen hundreds of Liu Xiang race clips. This is the only time I’ve seen him compete in tights! Although I’ve seen photos of Liu training in tights, what made him ditch his iconic short shorts? Perhaps it was the weather.

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