Gold rush on last day of athletics in Doha

Updated: 2006-12-13 09:29

DOHA - Olympic champion and world record holder Liu Xiang stormed to a stylish victory in the men's 110 meter hurdles on Tuesday, inspiring a Chinese gold harvest in the last day of athletics events at the Asian Games.

World record holder China's Liu Xiang holds his national flag as he celebrates after winning the men's 110m hurdles final during the 15th Asian Games in Doha December 12, 2006. [Reuters]

The 23-year-old Liu, who shattered the world record when he clocked 12.88 seconds at an IAAF meet in Lausanne in July this year, finished in a Games record of 13.15 to retain his Asiad title. Four years ago, he won the 110m hurdles in 13.27.

His teammate Shi Dongpeng took silver with a personal best time of 13.28, and Japan's Masato Naito had bronze in 13.60.

"I didn't expect myself to run so fast, the time of 13.20 was a pretty good result," said a flag-draped Liu after the race.

"The standard of the men's 110m hurdles at this Games was much higher than that in Busan," he added.

In addition to Liu's victory, China won three other events to increase its total tally of gold medals to 14, equaling its record in Busan four years ago.

Asian record holder Gao Shuying underlined her status as the continent's No. 1 in women's pole vault as the 27-year-old Chinese cleared a height of 4.30 meters to retain her title. Malaysia's Samsu Roslinda took silver and the bronze went to Japanese Ikuko Nishikori.

China's Gao Shuying competes in the women's pole vault final during the 15th Asian Games in Doha December 12, 2006. [Reuters]

Li Yanxi, making his debut in the Asian Games, claimed gold in the men's triple jump with a personal best leap of 17.06 meters, ahead of Kazakhstan's Roman Valiyev (16.98m) and Kim Deok-Hyeon ( 16.87m).

Qin Wangping then anchored the Chinese women's relay team to victory in the 4x100m final, clocking 44.38 seconds. Japan came second in 44.87 while Chinese Taipei was third in 45.86.

In the men's 4x100m relay, unfancied Thailand defeated favorites Japan in a photo finish for the gold medal. Both teams were timed 39.21 seconds, while China finished a disappointing third place in 39.62.

China's (L-R) Han Ling, Chen Jue, Qin Wangping and Wang Jing celebrate after winning the women's 4x100m relay race final during the 15th Asian Games in Doha December 12, 2006. [Reuters]

Bahrain's Maryam Yusuf Jamal won the women's 1,500m making it a golden double following her victory in the 800m on Saturday. The 23-year old former Ethiopian, who has enjoyed an impressive season this year with victories in the World Athletics Final in Stuttgart and the IAAF World Cup in Athens, was in a class of her own as she finished in 4:08.63, more than six seconds ahead of Japanese runner-up Yuriko Kobayashi.

Qatar's James Kwalia C Kurui delighted home fans as the 20-year- old former Kenyan won the men's 5,000m final in 13:38.90, followed by Bahrain's Mucheru Salem Jawher and another Qatari Sultan Khamis Zaman.

Manjeet Kaur led an India quartet to a come-from-behind victory in the women's 4x400m relay final, clocked a winning time of 3 minutes 32.95 seconds.

Kazakhstan grabbed silver in 3:33.86, while China had to settle for the third place in 3:33.92 after leading for the first three legs.

Saudi Arabia emerged as the winner of the men's 4x400m relay, the last event of the six-day athletics competition, in 3:05.31. India and Sri Lanka finished second and third respectively.

Although Liu Xiang was one of the few world class athlete in track and field events after Japan's Olympic hammer throw champion Koji Murobushi and two-time world 3,000 steeplechase champion Saif Saaeed Shaheen of Qatar pulled out due to injuries, only a few hundred spectators turned out at the Khalifa Stadium to watch the 23-year-old Shanghai native demolish his rivals in the final.

Liu said he was very satisfied with his performance in the 2006 season, which saw him win eight out of 10 international competitions.

"This year was another peak for me following the Athens Olympic Games," he said.

Liu shocked the world in Athens 2004 when he won the Olympic gold medal with a then world-record-tying time of 12.91 seconds.

Liu's coach Sun Haiping said he was also delighted with the results.

"Liu's time was under 13.20, and Shi gave his best ever running, so I am extremely satisfied," said Sun.

Heavily favored to win this last race of this season, Liu had set a modest target of 13.20 before the Asian Games.

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