Liu Xiang steals limelight after hat-trick feat at National Games

09:18, October 26, 2009      

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Olympic gold medalist Liu Xiang (C) from Shanghai jubilates as Ji Wei(L) of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) team and Shi Dongpeng from Hebei watch on the podium after the men's 110m hurdles of athletics at the 11th Chinese National Games in Jinan, east China's Shandong Province, Oct. 25, 2009. Liu claimed the title of the event with 13.34 seconds. Ji won the silver while Shi got the bronze.(Xinhua/Fan Changguo)

The 11th Chinese National Games reached its climax here on Sunday night when the Athens Olympic champion Liu Xiang ignited a sold-out Olympic sports center with victory in the men's 110m hurdles.

The 26-year-old Liu, who finished second at the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix last month, exploded out of the starting blocks and hit the line first with a last-gasp burst in 13.34 seconds.

The victory made the former record holder become the first Chinese athlete to win an event in three straight Games.

"To be a triple champion was great. I still hope to win the fourth next time," said a beaming Liu.

The result was good enough for the 2007 world champion to win the title, but far off his former world record and personal best of12.88 seconds.

"I just wanted to keep the pace, keep steady. I kept watching my opponents during the race. I didn't make my upmost to spurt," Liu said after the race.

Olympic goldmedalist Liu Xiang (C) from Shanghai competes during the men's 110m hurdles of athletics at the 11th Chinese National Games in Jinan, east China's Shandong Province, Oct. 25, 2009. Liu claimed the title of the event. (Xinhua/Fan Changguo)

Ji Wei of the Peoples Liberation Army, who placed first in the Saturday's heats, finished second in 13.42. Liu's national teammate Shi Dongpeng stood third in 13.63.

The race was Liu's first since he staged his comeback from Achilles tendon surgery last month at the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix. He finished second in a wind-aided 13.15 seconds.

The track and field also saw home athlete Huang Xiaoxiao clinch her second gold after an easy victory in the women's 400m hurdles.

The 25-year-old, who had won the 400m on Thursday, was fast out of the starting blocks and remained unchallenged in the last three hurdles.

Qi Haifeng of Liaoning grabbed the heavyweight gold in the men's decathlon after two-day, ten-discipline gruelling competitions. Qi's total score was 7941.

In tennis, Tianjin's Peng Shuai partnered Li Zhe to claim the mixed doubles title. It is the second title for the 23-year-old Peng and her team of at the national meet after she inspired her hometown team to the women's team gold medal prior to the official opening of the Games.

Peng's gold haul is expected to continue as she stays in contention in both women's singles and doubles.

Peng/Xu will be facing Grand Slam winners Zheng Jie and Yan Zi from Sichuan in the doubles final on Monday.

In weightlifting, Olympic champion Lu Yong was too good for his rivals en route to a gold medal in the men's 85kg division while surprise package He Shuyong won the 94kg division after beating veterans Jiang Hairong and Yuan Aijun.

Source: Xinhua
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