Liu Xiang lightens National Games with 13.34 victory

14:48, October 26, 2009      

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By Sportswriter Yue Dongxing

The 11th Chinese National Games reached its climax 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 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.

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.

After crossing the line, the excited Liu trotted around the stadium and waved arms to audiences, attracting thunderous cheers and applauses from a crowd of more than 50,000.

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

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

Elsewhere, Huang Xiaoxiao delighted the home crowd of the host Shandong with easy victory in the women's 400m hurdles, clinching her second gold at the National Games.

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.

She slowed down, waved to accept the cheers from the fanatic home crowds, and crossed the line in 55.49 seconds.

"The feeling of racing in front of the home audiences was great. Once they are in the stands, I need to show my spirit. This the most important for me," said the winner.

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

The six-day athletics events will come to an end on Monday night when 12 golds will be produced.

Bai Xue, the Berlin world championships' 10,000m winner, will push for her second gold at the Games after she breezed to the women's victory at the Beijing international marathon on Oct. 18, which also served as the marathon event of the 11th Games.

Source: Xinhua
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