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Liu: I`ll keep winning in Osaka

28 April 2007

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Liu Xiang (Image of Sport) Liu Xiang (Image of Sport)
By Chen Xiangfeng

China's 110m hurdles world record holder Liu Xiang is looking to continue his 100 percent winning streak in Osaka, the host city of this year's IAAF Grand Prix and World Championships.

"Osaka has been a lucky city for me because I have never lost a competition there. I am trying my best to keep my 100 percent record," a determined Liu, who has won the Osaka Grand Prix three times, told Beijing Television on Monday.

The grand prix takes place in May and is being seen as a dress rehearsal for August's world championships in the Japanese city.

"A victory in May will give me more confidence to win in August," said the Athens Olympic champion.

Liu is currently gearing up for the summer in Beijing, a change from his usual training base in Shanghai.

"It's a different mood in a different place. There are also some teammates training with me and this will help me a lot," he said.

Coach Sun Haiping is doing what he can to help him avoid boredom.

"Daily training is tough. So I will try different ways to keep him going. I have to keep him interested in training so it is necessary to make some changes," Sun told the TV station.

With home fans expecting to see him on top of the podium in the Beijing Games next year, Liu attempted to turn the pressure down a notch.

"I feel happy every time I finish in the top three in international races. The top athletes are very close.

"To compete at home in the Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I have to run three rounds before reaching the final. So my first aim is to make sure I get a spot in the final."

Sun's major concerns are injuries and Liu's plethora of commercial activities.

"Liu does not have any injuries now and his training is going smoothly," Sun said. "But we worry what could happen to him in a year and a half's time.

"We're afraid that if he gets injured it could all be a wasted effort and he will miss the chance to take gold on home soil.

"Although he's dealing with the pressure quite well, I'm afraid the intense training program we've got lined up and other activities will have an impact."

Liu has become a phenomenon in China after his sensational performance in Athens, and he is hot property among advertisers.

But Liu says he would rather train than shoot commercials.

"They (commercials) cause me more suffering. Sometimes I have to get up as early as six and go home as late as nine.

"Maybe it's not as intense as training, but I'm always running over time. I don't think I could become an actor. It is torturous."

Liu's final preparations for the World Championships are scheduled to come in Sheffield, UK on July 17.

"This is my first visit to Sheffield, I want to perform well in front of the British people and I am looking forward to running there," Liu said.

"The race is very important to me. I want to be running well ahead of the World Championships so my aim is to be in good form then."

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