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Liu turns Helsinki silver into Osaka gold

1 September 2007

Liu Xiang celebrates after winning the 110m hurdles in 12.95 in the 11th IAAF World Championships at Nagai Stadium (Image of Sport) Liu Xiang celebrates after winning the 110m hurdles in 12.95 in the 11th IAAF World Championships at Nagai Stadium (Image of Sport)
By Nick Mulvenney

China's Liu Xiang was absolutely delighted with how he dealt with the huge pressure on him to win the 110-meter hurdles gold at the world championships.

The 24-year-old added a first world crown to the Olympic and Asian titles he already owns on Friday night and the pressure will get greater in the runup to next August's Beijing games if the reaction in China is anything to go by.

Pictures of Liu becoming the first Chinese male track world champion were emblazoned over the front pages of all China's major newspapers on Saturday morning.

Beijing Youth Daily led with the headline "Liu Xiang strikes -- Three Championships" followed by "China's flying man once again wins his world athletics championships with Asian speed."

The Beijing News took up half of its front page with the Chinese character "fly" in celebratory red with three wings alongside it, a play on the athlete's given name Xiang.

"I was nervous beforehand because this is the world championships and everyone, including myself, puts so much emphasis on it," the world record holder said. "After my silver in Helsinki two years ago, I had to win the gold.

"Everybody wants to win a world title, I was under pressure to win the gold medal but I managed to deal with the pressure and tension so I'm very happy.

"Now I will have even more pressure than before, but this is something I will need to deal with to keep going."

Running in lane nine, Liu said he had been unsure how he had done until he turned to look across the track during the run-in, a look that probably cost him a better time than the 12.95 seconds he clocked.

"My start wasn't good, maybe because I was nervous or because I was a bit sluggish," he said.

"After I jumped the last hurdle, I couldn't bear it anymore and I had a look around to see how everybody else was doing. It was an instinctive reaction."

Liu will run next at the Shanghai Grand Prix meeting at the end of September, and he is certainly not lacking in confidence after Friday night.

"I want people to know what kind of speed I have," he said. "This is number one speed. There's nothing I can't do."

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