Experts believe China's 110m hurdler Liu Xiang has the potential to run in under 12.60 seconds, according to a report from Shanghai-based Jiefang Daily.
The 23-year-old youngster smashed the 110-metre hurdles world record with a time of 12.88 seconds at a super grand prix meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, last month.
The record, previously set by Colin Jackson and Liu himself at 12.91, was ratified on Thursday by athletics governing body the IAAF.
Liu's coach, Sun Haiping, said the research team that has predicted Liu's optimum time was set up five years ago and has contributed significantly to improve Liu's level of performance.
It is made up of experts from the China Institute of Sport Science (CISS) and other research bodies, and offers science and technology training to a host of Chinese athletes.
The team records Liu's training runs with electronic equipment for detailed analysis.
Cameras also time how fast Liu runs between hurdles, and where his shortcomings are compared to other top hurdlers.
The experts said if all the best times they have recorded between every hurdle, plus the best time from starting line to the first hurdle and from the last hurdle to finishing line, are added together, Liu's time would be 12.54 seconds.
But they admitted it could be hard to achieve in reality.
Meanwhile, national fans who complain Liu focuses too much on overseas meetings have the chance to catch a rare glimpse of him from today.
He will be among those competing at the National Track and Field Championships in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, until Monday.
Isolated accommodation, a 24-hour bodyguard, and one-man-show press conferences will no doubt be the norm now for all of Liu's domestic appearances.
China's track and field officials and Liu's coach have defended his decision to race so often overseas.
"We, of course, hope Liu can take part in more national competitions, which at least will lure fans back to track and field sports. There are only a few athletes and reporters on the stands now, but now the whole of China will be watching him, even his practices," said Yu Weili, director of China's Track and Field Management Department.
"But to be honest, the national competitions are sometimes a problem for Liu. It is not that Liu Xiang wouldn't like to take part in them. He is just worried that there will be some trouble."
Sun, Liu's coach, said: "It is impossible for Liu to have a rest. There is always someone who wants to disturb his rest. Liu is so kind that he won't refuse others' requests.
"Waiters, waitresses, guards at every hotel and volunteers at the training ground all request autographs. They even bring their friends to watch Liu's matches and training.
"Liu just broke the world record, which may cause a frenzy among fans all over China."
Source: China Daily