Liu Xiang lucky to be 'hand-in-hand' with Robles

Updated: 2011-09-02 11:24


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Liu Xiang lucky to be 'hand-in-hand' with Robles

Liu Xiang speaks during a Nike commercial event in Beijing, Sept 1, 2011. [Photo/Xinhua]

BEIJING - Chinese star hurdler Liu Xiang has obviously got over the hand contact with Dayron Robles of Cuba and he even did not mind joking about it.

"Setting a new world record is one of my goals. And the current world record is held by the guy, with whom I ran hand-in-hand," joked the 28-year-old former world record holder when attending a commercial event in Beijing on Thursday.

In the breath-taking final, Robles and Liu Xiang were neighbors in Lane 5 and Lane 6, and the two world's fastest-ever hurdlers were almost running neck to neck in the first eight hurdles and took the lead.

Liu Xiang lucky to be 'hand-in-hand' with Robles

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In the ninth hurdle, however, Robles' right trailing hand was seen hitting on Liu's left hand. As a result, Liu's rhythm was disturbed and his blistering pace slowed down. Right before the tenth and final hurdle, Robles made further hand contact with Liu, who tripped on the hurdle.

Huge screens at the Daegu stadium repeatedly replayed the two hurdlers' contacts from various angles.

"Right after the race, I was kind of sulky," Liu admitted. "And then I decided to let it go. It was just a race. I just did what I need to do, ran in my own lane. I had not expected that.

"But you can never expect what will happen during such a thrilling race," added Liu, who reiterated in different occasions that Robles did not do it viciously.

Robles then was disqualified by the IAAF under rule 163.2 for obstruction on the track. The gold medal was awarded to Jason Richardson of America and Liu lost the chance to compete for the gold.

The incident in Daegu seemed to be misfortunate for both Robles and Liu, but Liu believed he was lucky enough that the incident would happen to him.

"I used to ask myself: 'Why would it happen to me?' And later I began to realize it was so lucky for me," said Liu. "I mean as an athlete, it was very lucky to have such a special experience during the career."  

Three years after his sudden withdrawal from the Beijing Olympic Games, Liu regained confidence and honor in the Daegu worlds, the first top-level competition he featured in after the injury, although Liu just finished with a silver.

Feng Shuyong, head coach of the Chinese athletics team, believed Liu, despite losing the gold medal, has given all the fans confidence for next year's London Olympics.

"It shows that Liu Xiang has got back to the top. Although he is still under very tough pressure. He is a rare example in the world to fight back to peak form after a very serious injury," said Feng. "I know that he has a dream. That is to win the Olympic gold medal again in the London Olympic Games."