Tuesday, March 16, 2010

China's Liu Xiang Upbeat

BEIJING — Chinese star hurdler Liu Xiang has vowed to regain world-class form after finishing a lowly seventh in his international return at the World Indoor Championships, state press said Tuesday.

In his first global competition after an Achilles tendon injury, Liu finished well behind rival Dayton Robles of Cuba, who won Sunday's 60m race in Doha in 7.34 seconds.

Liu, the defending champion from 2008 and former world record holder in the 110 metre hurdles, finished well down the field in 7.68 seconds.

"Only I can beat myself," Liu told the Oriental Sports Daily after returning home to Shanghai on Monday.

"I want to bring China's men's sprinting back to the top.... I will strive to beat (the competition) over and over and let them know the speed of Asia."

Liu, who pulled up lame in a preliminary heat of the 110m hurdles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is trying to come back from surgery.

He said he was still not in top form and was lucky to make the finals in Doha.

"The power in my foot is still dragging a bit, so it was hard for me to give my all. Anyway, I gritted my teeth and was very happy that I could fight to the end," he said, vowing to continue his comeback.

At the 2004 Athens Games, Liu became the first Chinese man ever to win Olympics track and field gold.

"Taking part in the indoor championships was basically to get ready for the outdoor season and learn more about our opponents," Liu's coach Sun Haiping told the China Daily.

"The World Cup in Croatia (in September) is what we want to win this year as that title is the only international one that is not in Liu's collection. I hope Liu can win comfortably."

In the coming outdoor season, Liu will focus on Asian meets and is expected to run in Grand Prix events in Shanghai and Taegu, South Korea, the paper said.