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UPDATED: 13:43, May 24, 2004
Hurdler Liu Xiang predicts standup battle against Johnson in Athens
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Chinese star hurdler Liu Xiang said that he will not give himself a lot of pressure in preparation for the upcoming Olympic Games and predicted American great Allen Johnson will be a hard nut to crack.

The 21-year-old Liu won the title in 13.40 seconds at the National Olympic Trials, a far cry from his Asian record of 13.06 seconds set in the Osaka Grand Prix early this month.

"I am very satisfied with today's results," he said. "It's not an important event and I just took it as a training session."

Liu said that Johnson, the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games title andfour-time world champion, will be the biggest hurdle for him to cross, although he beat the 34-year-old American in Osaka.

"I have never been carried away with the Osaka win," he said. "I know great athletes like Johnson sometimes loses a competition. But he is really better than me."

The Shanghai-born Liu said he feels no pressure three months before running in Athens.

"I know that a lot of people pin high hopes on me, but we cannot let heart rule the head. I am not the best one in the world," he said.

Chinese national coach Feng Shuyong said that the qualifying tournament is not important for Liu because he has already guaranteed his place for Athens.

"The time is not so important," he said.

He said that Liu will compete in three IAAF Grand Prix events in Europe in May to warm up for the Olympics.

"I hope that he can run inside 13.10 seconds in Athens," Feng said. "I think that time can earn him a medal."

Source: Xinhua

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