Tag Archives: 刘翔

London Olympics Recap – The 110m Hurdles

Photo from Nigel Chadwick

Even if I’m gutted to see Liu Xiang 刘翔crash out of yet another Olympics, it is time to make my customary post-Championships analysis of the athletics’ best event (my biased opinion!).

Read: “Brave Liu Xiang 刘翔”

Round 1

What struck me the most were the numerous DNF’s and DQ’s. Being an athlete and a sprint hurdler myself, I know for a fact that getting those acronyms written after one’s name is far from a pleasant experience. Even more so in the case of these Olympians, who had trained for many years for this one shot at World’s Greatest Show.

Four athletes failed to finish in Liu’s qualifying heat. In addition to Liu, Shane Brathwaite and Artur Noga did not make it past the initial flights of hurdles. Senegal’s Moussa Dembele was unable to finish, as he faltered midway into the race. In the other heats, four more hurdlers made early exits from Olympic contention, including British hope Andrew ‘The Demolition Man” Pozzi. Pozzi had recently run 13.34s in Crystal Palace, bolstering his chances of making the Olympic final.

Save for the Liu, the rest of the pre-Olympics favorites (Aries Merritt and Jason Richardon, in particular) all made it through to the next round. Merritt topped the heats with a qualifying time of 13.07s. Sergey Shubenkov (13.26s), Jason Richardson (13.33s), Orlando Ortega (13.26s), Dayron Robles (13.33s), and Andy Turner (13.42s) all won their respective qualifying heats.

Video – Round 1 (from the Olympic Youtube Channel)

Results – Round 1

Semifinals

The American duo of Merritt and Richardson was unchallenged in the semifinal round, as they took the outright finals tickets with relative ease. Richardson stopped the clock at 13.13s in the first semifinal, while Merritt was one-hundredths of second away from clocking yet another 12.93s. The defending Olympic Champion, Dayron Robles, shrugged off initial injury fears with a classy 13.10s.

Ryan Braithwaite, Ortega, and Hansle Parchment were the other automatic qualifiers. Briton Lawrence Clarke and South African Lehan Fourie surprisingly made it to the magic eight, as more fancied prospects like European Champion Sergey Shubenkov and Garfield Darien fell by the wayside.

Prior to London, I picked the young Shubenkov as an outside contender for a podium spot, in light of his impressive string of races. True enough, he looked well at ease in the heats. However, he stumbled in the semis and was unable to progress to the next round.

Video – Semifinals (from the Olympic Youtube Channel)

Results – Semifinals

Final

The only surprise in the final was Robles’ unfortunate injury. In my opinion, the World Record holder could have won at least a bronze medal, had his legs held through.

Robles, Richardson, and Merritt – all seven-step starters – were running practically abreast until the fourth flight of hurdles, when the Cuban pulled up with an injured hamstring. Merritt began to gradually pad his lead over Richarson and the rest of the field in a sterling display of fluid hurdling and jaw-dropping speed in between the barriers.

As expected, Merritt and Richarson won gold and silver. Merritt seemed to have escaped the clutches of yet another 12.93s clocking, as he registered a winning time of 12.92s – one-hundredth of a second off Liu’s Olympic record. Richardson won silver in 13.04s, as Parchment surprisingly lifted the bronze with his 13.12s Jamaican national record.

Position Lane Bib Athlete Country Mark . React
1 6 3236 Aries Merritt USA 12.92 (PB) 0.143
2 4 3246 Jason Richardson USA 13.04 . 0.194
3 7 2182 Hansle Parchment JAM 13.12 (NR) 0.172
4 2 1804 Lawrence Clarke GBR 13.39 . 0.169
5 8 1125 Ryan Brathwaite BAR 13.40 . 0.163
6 9 1477 Orlando Ortega CUB 13.43 . 0.135
7 3 2781 Lehann Fourie RSA 13.53 . 0.136
. 5 1478 Dayron Robles CUB DQ . 0.159

Source: IAAF

Running in the first lane, the fast-starting Clarke gave British fans something to cheer about with his fourth place finish (13.39s), fending off the late race challenge of the 2009 World Champion, Braithwaite.

Source:

IAAF

Additional Link:

London Olympics Preview – The Sprint Hurdles

Brave Liu Xiang 刘翔

Four years ago in Beijing, Liu Xiang 刘翔 left the Bird’s Nest in pain, not even clearing the first hurdle of his qualifying heat. Four years later in London, Liu’s dreams of an Olympic comeback crumbled yet again.

Following his shock exit in 2008, Liu has been beset by recurring injury. He could not seem to find the old form that brought him an historic Olympic gold, a World Championship title, and a then-12.88s world record in the 110m Hurdles. The Chinese hurdler almost won another world title in Daegu last year, if not for an accidental clash with rival Dayron Robles.

Read: “London Olympics Preview – The Sprint Hurdles”

In the run-up to the London Games, the 29-year old had drawn level with Robles’ 12.87s world record, albeit with slight wind assistance. Liu had gone beyond 13.00s twice, stamping his class on the world’s best sprint hurdlers. The stage was set for Liu’s great Olympic comeback in the British Isles. But fate, it seemed, had other plans.

Through the choppy images of my live streaming link, I saw the unfortunate events transpire frame by frame. When the starting gun fired, the rest of the field powered on to the finish line. At the left side of the screen, I saw a lone figure lying on the track clutching his right leg.

The commentators’ gasps of disappointment and regret confirmed my worst fears: Liu’s Olympic campaign had come to an abrupt end.

Read/View: “Hurdler Liu Xiang turns fall into heroism”

Liu headed out to an exit near the starting line, but a venue official apparently led him back to the race area. The 2004 Athens Olympic champion hobbled on the straightaway. Limping on his one good leg, Liu veered towards his original lane and gave the final hurdle a kiss. One of his competitors, the Hungarian hurdler Balazs Baji raised Liu’s arm, proclaiming to the entire stadium the latter’s symbolic victory.

In a touching display of camaraderie, hometown boy Andy Turner and the Spaniard Jackson Quinonez helped the ailing Liu to a waiting wheelchair.

The sprint hurdles is an unforgiving event. The event demands a certain degree of flat out speed to sprint nimbly in between the barriers, and a high level of technical proficiency to skim efficiently over the 1.067-meter high hurdles. The margin for error is small; a single mistake in clearing could spell a premature end to the race.

A Xinhua article revealed that Liu was suffering from an injury. “In Germany, Liu felt pain in the foot where his old injury was,” said Sun Haiping, Liu’s long-time coach.

Ever since Liu Xiang emphatically won the 2002 Asian Games gold, I’ve considered him a role model. Throughout my track career, I looked up to the guy. I can still remember that fateful night back in 2004, when the 21-year old Liu stormed to the finish line in first place, matching Colin Jackson’s world record. One of my cherished possessions is an autographed copy of his autobiography, which I brought to every single major race as a talisman.

Read: “Sidekicks”

My initial reaction, of course, was one of disappointment and disbelief. Seeing him claw his way back to the top, only to succumb once again to injury tore my heart out. But when I saw Liu bravely limping to finish the race – and the subsequent reaction of the spectators and his competitors – a poignant realization dawned on me.

He has won every, single major title: the World Indoors, the World Championships, and the Olympics. Perhaps, this Derek Redmond-like display of character was the defining moment of Liu’s career, should he decide to hang up his spikes there and then.

“For some athletes, it’s just a job,” said Liu in a pre-Athens Olympics interview with Time Magazine. “For me, it’s what I love.”

Liu Xiang shall be back. I just know it.

“For that to happen to one of the greatest hurdlers of all time is a tragedy” – Aries Merritt (quote from NYT)

“I just think he made a small little mistake and ran up on the hurdle a little too quickly and wasn’t prepared to take the hurdle at such a velocity.” – Aries Merritt (quote from Stuff.co.nz)

“I regard him as probably the best hurdler in history and have so much respect for him. It was horrible seeing him limp off like that so you have to go and help people.” – Andy Turner (quote from BBC)

“We know Liu Xiang has been suffering with his Achilles. He had to push hard and when you have to reach for the first barrier and you’ve got a stress injury like an Achilles it can cause you hell and he couldn’t even take off.” – Colin Jackson (quote from Stuff.co.nz)

“My heart goes to Liu Xiang.” – Allen Johnson (from Allen’s Twitter account)

Takayuki Kishimoto’s (岸本 鷹幸) Olympic Hopes

Japan has a strong intermediate hurdling tradition. Back in the 2001 and 2005 editions of the World Championships, Dai Tamesue 為末大 won bronze medals in the grueling event. Tamesue is the only other modern-day Asian hurdler aside from Liu Xiang 刘翔 who had won medals in the World Championships.

Read: “Dai Tamesue’s 為末大 Double Bronze”

In the Olympic Games, athletes from the vast Asian continent had barged into the top three twice – when Filipino Miguel White won bronze at the 1936 Berlin Olympics and Saudi Hadi Soua’an Al-Somaily هادي صوعان الصميلي snared silver at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Read: “Asian Sprinting – Japan’s Olympic Bronze”

While going over the 2012 top lists of the 400m hurdles, I noticed a Japanese athlete perched at the top 10. Takayuki Kishimoto 岸本 鷹幸 ran a competitive 48.41s last June, en route to topping the Japanese Olympic Trials.

This season, only double World Championship medalist Javier Culson (47.78s), reigning World Champion Dai Greene (47.84s), 2005 World Champion Bershawn Jackson (48.20s), and U.S. Trials winner Michael Tinsley (48.33s) have run faster.  With The Batman out of the U.S. Olympic Team, an Asian athlete is seeded fourth coming into the London Olympics.  On paper, at least, Asia has a legitimate contender for an Olympic 400m hurdles medal.

The 1.71m-tall hurdler was able to shave off a massive 0.86s off his personal best in a span of a little over a year, propelling himself to fifth in the Japanese all-time list. And he is still only 22 years old. Amongst the top 10 in the world this season, only Jehue Gordon is younger than the Kishimoto.

The Japanese athlete reached the semifinals in Daegu last year, albeit with an apparent hamstring injury. Compared to the likes of the other top contenders, Kishimoto’s curriculum vitae seems relatively scant. But then again, the Olympics bring out the best in people. Perhaps the young Kishimoto is destined to emulate – or even better – the legendary Tamesue’s world-beating feats.

Liu Xiang (刘翔) wins 3rd Asiad Gold!!!

Liu Xiang 刘 翔 stamped his class in a badly outgunned field, stopping the clock at 13.09s. Shi Dong Peng 史冬鹏 placed 2nd with a 13.39s performance, making it a 1-2 finish for the host country. South Korea’s Park Tae-Kyong 박태경 won Bronze.

When I watched the Youtube clip above and saw my idol romp to his best performance in years, I was ecstatic. Seeing Liu celebrate at the finish line is a priceless moment for this hardcore Liu Xiang fan. I raised my arms in triumph, rejoicing with the billion strong Chinese people! All of a sudden, the bad memories of Beijing 2008 are but a distant memory. Even though I watched the race from a measly streaming site, I could almost feel the electricity of Guangzhou’s Aoti Stadium as the thousands of spectators cheered wildly!

Whilst watching the slow motion replay of the race, one can feel the raw intensity of Liu. After all, the Asian Games is the biggest athletics event in China since the 2008 Olympics. The fact that Liu grazed a few hurdles with his hamstring is a testament to this momentous race.

Read the IAAF article here

Read the Universal Sports article here

Read the Yahoo Sports article here

Photos from Daylife.com and Getty Images

Liu’s 13.09s is his best time since the 2007 season. The 2004 Olympic Champion dramatically lowered his erstwhile 2010 seasons’ best of 13.40s.

Results from gz2010.cn

I love how Liu jumped to the top of the podium during the medal ceremony. It was reminiscent of his historic 2004 Athens Olympic gold!

Liu Xiang is indeed back! Dayron Robles and David Oliver – watch out!

Liu’s guts pose! (Photo from Zimbio/Getty Images)

Video credits:

wwcast

sasalove2a2

Additional link:

More photos

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

Asian Sprinting: Japan’s Olympic Bronze

In the elite world stage, the sprinting events are dominated by Americans, Jamaicans and the occasional European and African athlete. Historically, Asians have lagged behind in these explosive, fast-paced disciplines. The most recent individual Men’s sprinting medal came at the 2003 Paris World Championships, when the fleet-footed Shingo Suetsugo (末續 慎吾) finished 3rd in the 200m dash. 3 years earlier at the Sydney Olympics, Susantika Jayasinghe சுசந்திக ஜெயசிங்க்ஹி got 3rd place in the same event (elevated to silver after Marion Jones was stripped of her gold). Jayasinghe also finished within the top 3 in the 200m Dash in the 2007 Osaka World Championships.

No Asian man has gone below the magical 10-second barrier in the century dash. The Japanese troika of Koji Ito 伊東 浩司 (10.00s), Nobuharo Asahara (朝原 宣治) (10.02s) and Suetsugo (10.03s ) were the closest. The current Asian record holder, the Jamaican-born Qatari, Samuel Francis (9.99s) is an exception because, well, he’s a naturalized Qatari!

In the low hurdles, Dai Tamesue (為末大) won bronze medals in the 2001 and 2005 World Championships. Then, of course, there’s Liu Xiang (刘翔). Liu had won everything in the 110m High Hurdles – Olympics, World Championships and World Indoor Championships.

Suetsugo at the 2003 World Championships:

For an Asian, qualifying to the finals of an Olympic or World Championship sprinting event is an achievement in itself, in light of the puny number of medals won by sprinters from the world’s most populous continent.

With these facts in mind, it’s remarkable how the Japanese Men’s 4x100m relay team (Naoki Tsukahara (塚原 直貴), Suetsugo, Shinji Takahira 高平 慎士 and Asahara) finished 3rd (38.15s) at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Japan has always been a consistent qualifier to the 400m relay finals (4th – 2004, 6th – 2000, 6th – 1992, 5th – 1932); it was about time the Japanese won something big on the Olympic athletics stage. Despite the absence of the American and British quartets, a podium finish at the Olympics is a stellar feat in itself.

I just love how the Japanese celebrated (reminds me of my team’s 3rd place finish back in UAAP 69! We were ecstatic!) It’s reminiscent of the raw emotion found in those sports-oriented Japanese anime (like Hajime no Ippo and Slam Dunk. I love sports anime!). Men were openly crying, unafraid to show their true emotions. This would have to be my favorite moment in the Beijing Olympics, topping even Usain Bolt’s devastating three-event romp.

Japan’s Bronze Medal

In a sense, small victories like these give us Asians hope. If the Japanese can do it, surely (with enough reforms and political will), Filipinos can distinguish themselves at the elite level.

Liu Xiang’s (刘翔) Comeback

Being a hardcore Liu Xiang (刘翔) fan, I must admit that it kills me to see my idol struggle. Although Liu remains his ever-cheerful self, its disconcerting to hear him say that he’s quite content with just landing a slot in the 2010 Doha World Indoor Championships or clocking a poor 13.40s to finish behind David Oliver and Shi Dong Peng 史冬鹏.

A column from Universal Sports (which is a fine source of US-oriented track & field stuff, by the way) highlights Liu’s “injury and low confidence-induced rut.” When asked about his chances for London 2012, Liu replied: “The London Olympics is too far for me. I must start from the very beginning. I am not sure about myself now.”

But then again, one has to be an athlete himself to understand where Liu Xiang is coming from. Allen Johnson’s remarks on the prospect of Liu’s recovery is enlightening: “I don’t see why not. It’s still two years away… (Liu’s problems) will pass in time, it’s just a matter of working through.”

It turns out that Johnson himself went under the knife for that same Achilles injury. Being a fixture in sprint hurdling (and being Liu’s idol), Johnson’s words come with so much wisdom.

In a sense, there is wisdom in Liu Xiang’s mindset. He’s at a stage wherein recovery is painfully slow; overexertion is a clear and present danger. Hence, having a pressure-free perspective about competing could indeed facilitate a seamless transition from recovery to top-notch performance. It’s clear that Liu does not intend to raise the bar too high, that the former World, World Indoor and Olympic Champion does not want to set too high a summit only to see himself fail in the enterprise.

Liu vs. Johnson back in 2004

Liu Xiang with his idol

Photo credits:

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn

http://olympic-spirit.blogspot.com

%d bloggers like this: