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Liu Xiang shapes up for Robles clash

28 February 2007

China's Olympic 110-meter hurdles champion Liu Xiang has been training hard in preparations for the future clashes against upsurging Cuban Dayron Robles, his official website revealed on Wednesday.

Liu, who split titles with 20-year-old Robles in their two indoor duels so far this season, resumed training at his hometown of Shanghai on February 20, only three days after the Chinese lunar new year.

"Liu is in superb training form and practised very hard after the Chinese lunar new year, although he did not have a good rest during the festival," said Liu's coach Sun Haiping Wednesday on the website.

"I think he really sensed the menace posed by improving Robles since last year."

Liu, the 110m hurdles world record holder, set a new Asian winning record of 7.42 seconds for the 60-meter event at the Karlsruhe Indoors tournament, Germany, on February 11, notching up his second title of the season following early German victory in Dusseldorf on February 6.

While Robles, who propelled himself from the 28th at the inception of 2006 to the first place in the IAAF World Rankings last September, set a best time of the year so far with 7.38 seconds in Stuttgart indoors after ruling out Liu's efforts.

Robles is now second in the rankings on 1387 points to Liu, only 13 adrift.

"I have made good relations with the Chinese. It has been a great experience (to compete with Liu) as I have to adapt my training," the Cuban told the IAAF website after winning the Stuttgart title. "These two meetings in Germany have drawn Xiang and me closer."

But the promising youngster eyed not only beating Liu and also the world record the Chinese created on July 11 last year at Lausanne, Switzerland.

"I think Liu's record (12.88) is beatable," said Robles last September when he claimed the top place in the world rankings for the first time in career.

"I'm young and I already reached the elite level, getting better and I think I can beat it next year. Now I have to stay there," he added.

The 24-year-old Liu, who is set to move to Beijing in March for behind-door training, will race the Osaka Grand Prix in May, starting his outdoor campaign for the season.

"I have made my new year's resolutions," the Chinese ace said on Wednesday through his website. "I will try first to win the Osaka race, that will be my third consecutive title there."

"In July I will come back to Lausanne and I will be competing on home soil at Shanghai Grand Prix in September, If I can win, they will both become my third consecutive title too."

And Robles has already included Shanghai campaign on his running list.

"This year will be long with the Pan American Games, the World Championships and the Golden League on the agenda, but I would like to visit China one year before the Olympics."

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