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Liu Xiang leads China's medal charge in London

(Xinhua)

09:19, July 11, 2012

BEIJING, July 9 (Xinhua) -- Four years after a lackluster performance with only two bronzes earned in Beijing Games, the Chinese track and field team, spearheaded by star hurdler Liu Xiang, is pinning medal hopes on eight events in London Olympics.

"Up to now, a total of 53 Chinese track and field athletes including 27 men and 26 women have qualified for the London Olympics," said Feng Shuyong, vice president of Chinese Athletics Association and also head coach of the national athletics squad. "They will be competing in 28 events, of which 14 are men's and the rest women's."

"After a successful winter training session, Chinese athletes have shown a series of outstanding results this season, which boosted our confidence in the build-up to London Games," he added.

According to Feng, China's medal hopes include men's 110m hurdles, women's discus, women's marathon, women's shot put, women's hammer, men's 50km race walk as well as men's and women's 20km race walk.

Although China's final squad for London Games is yet to be announced, former world and Olympic hurdles champion Liu Xiang will for sure be the biggest star in the track and field team.

After withdrawing from Beijing Games in 2008 due to an injury in the Achilles' tendon, the Athens Games champion seems to be ready to regain his Olympic honor in London with his newly adopted technique of seven strides to the first hurdle.

The 28-year-old has been enjoying an all-win record as he harvested three straight wins in this outdoor season including setting a season fastest time of 12.97 seconds by then in the Shanghai leg of 2012 IAAF Diamond League in May and a wind-aided mark of 12.87 seconds in the Eugene leg early last month.

In London, Liu will face fierce competition from his rivals, including American reigning world champion Jason Richardson and indoor world 60m hurdles champion Aries Merritt, who also benefits from the seven-step technique and just cut his personal best by 0.10 of a second to surpass Liu for the season best time of 12.93 seconds at the US Olympic Track and Field Trials last month.

And in Feng's mind, the world record holder Dayron Robles of Cuba will also be a serious contender.

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