Liu gets set to face Johnson in Shanghai
Updated: 2006-09-22 15:20

SHANGHAI, China _ China's 110-meter hurdles world record holder Liu Xiang will have a chance to avenge his defeat earlier this week to former Olympic champion Allen Johnson. That they're racing in Liu's hometown of Shanghai could help.

Johnson, the 35-year-old American, led from start to finish to cross the line in 12.96 seconds at Sunday's World Cup in Athens. The time, his quickest this season, was just .04 seconds off the personal best he set 10 years ago.

On Saturday, Liu and Johnson will face off at the Golden Grand Prix in Shanghai.

The rivalry is part of what Johnson describes as a golden era for hurdling.

"There are currently four athletes who are able to break through the 13-second barrier regularly and a few more are running close to the 13-second mark," Johnson said at a news conference in Shanghai.

"The older hurdlers ... carry on, while the youngsters keep popping up, combining for the boom," Johnson said.

Added Liu: "It's no surprise that any one of us can win any race with the level of competition so high at the moment."

Two among the older generation won't make it to Shanghai, however. Terrance Trammell and Dominique Arnold of the United States have withdrawn from the meet due to injuries, organizers said. The nature of their complaints wasn't known.

Other hurdlers in Saturday's race include China's Shi Dongpeng, Aries Merritt of the United States, Sweden's Robert Kronberg, Shaun Bownes of South Africa, and Marcel van de Westen of the Netherlands.

The meet caps a hugely successful season for Liu, one in which he broke the world record at the Athletissima Grand Prix meeting in July with a time of 12.88 seconds _ .03 better than the record he matched in winning gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

"That was a huge relief," said Liu. "People kept asking me when I would come up with a new world record. Now I've got them off my back.

"If I were to rate my 2006 season, I'd give myself 99 points out of 100," he added.