SHANGHAI: Chinese superstar Liu Xiang faces a huge test of hisOlympic credentials when he lines up against reigning 110-metreshurdles world champion Jason Richardson at Shanghai's DiamondLeague meeting on Saturday. The 2004 Olympic gold-medallist has hit form as he bids to erasehis injury heartbreak of 2008 and will be backed by his home crowdas he faces America's Richardson as well as Aries Merritt, thenewly crowned world indoor champion. Liu, who was forced out of the Beijing Olympics by an Achillesinjury in front of a packed Bird's Nest Stadium, was second behindMerritt in March and cruised to victory at the World Challenge inJapan this month. "I'm very happy to be on my home field for the Shanghai DiamondLeague competition," Liu, 28, told a news conference on Friday. "This time, each athlete has very strong power. |
For me, I just wantto give full play to my training for the best performance." On Saturday, he can lay down an important marker againstRichardson, who took gold in last year's highly contentious worldchampionships final in Daegu, South Korea. Liu finished second after he was obstructed by Olympic championDayron Robles, who was disqualified over the clash. The Chinese heads a star-studded line-up in Shanghai, nearly twomonths before the Olympics get under way in London. "It will be interesting to see how everybody performs," saidNorwegian Andreas Thorkildsen, the 2008 Olympic javelin champion. The women's 200m is shaping up as a duel between Jamaican Olympicchampion Veronica Campbell-Brown and American Carmelita Jeter, the100m world title-holder, in a preview of the two countries' rivalryat the Games.
"I do know it's going to be competitive in London. I'm just goingto train hard," Campbell-Brown said Thursday. Australian pole-vaulter Steve Hooker, the reigning Olympicchampion, will hope to take another step forward, a week afterqualifying for the Games following struggles with a knee injury andan alarming slump in confidence. "I think I'm doing very well towards London," he said. "I'm justlooking to consolidate the work I've done this year." Another star entrant is long-distance legend Kenenisa Bekele ofEthiopia, the current Olympic champion and world record holder forboth the 5000m and 10,000m, which he will be seeking to retain inLondon this year.
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