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UPDATED: 14:30, June 25, 2004
China's Liu Xiang sails into finals of Guilin GP
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World bronze medalist Liu Xiang sailed into the finals of the men's 110 meters hurdles at the second stage of the Chinese Grand Prix here on Thursday.

The 21-year-old, who won a medal at the world indoor and outdoor championships last year, clocked 13.79 seconds to lead group three.

Shi Dongpeng, who finished seventh in last year's world championships in Paris, led group one and will be expected to meet Liu in a thrilling final Friday night.

The Guilin Grand Prix was held at night to accommodate fixtures of IAAF Grand Prix and the Olympic Games in August.

Liu is China's biggest medal hopeful and Feng Shuyong, head coach of the Chinese national track and field team, breathed a sigh of relief after the qualifying round.

"He is in a superb form," Feng said. "I have every reason to believe that he can run under 13.10 in the Athens Olympics."

Liu, silver medalist in the world indoor championships in Budapest last March, eased up towards the end of the finish and is expected to try his best in Friday night's finals.

He opened the outdoor season last Sunday in Nanjing with a fabulous time of 13.20, his third career best.

Former Asian champions Guan Yingnan won the women's long jump with a leap of 6.71 meters, her third personal best and also season best of the Chinese jumpers.

Guan, 27, returning from a hamstring injury for three years, said that she has regained her form and is confident of reaching the top eight in the Olympic Games.

"I will not retire until achieving that goal," said the former world GP winner in Switzerland.

Li Xuemei, who holds women's 100m and 200m Asian records, won the 100m sprint with a modest time of 11.40.

The women's shot put event was won by Li Meiju with 18.56 meters, which was ranked within world top 20 last year.

Hu Kai won the men's 100m title in 10.38 meters, a far cry from the Asian record of 10.00 seconds set by Japan's Koji Ito in the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok.

Source: Xinhua

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