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Liu bounces back in style
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 25 - 11 - 2010

GUANGZHOU, China: None of the record 173 gold medals China had already collected at the Guangzhou Asian Games carried quite the luster of former world record holder Liu Xiang's victory in the 110-meter hurdles.
Saudi Arabia clinched its third gold medal when Ramzy Hamad Al-Duhami emerged winner in the individual showjumping. Latifa Al-Maktoum of the UAE stood second and Khaled Abdulaziz Al-Eid of Saudi Arabia took the bronze.
Two years after Liu left the Bird's Nest stadium crowd in stunned silence as he limped off the track with an Achilles injury before even starting his first heat at the Beijing Olympics, China's multimillionaire athletics superstar won at a major meet on home soil Wednesday.
There was a little bit of drama at the start – Liu, unhappy with the crowd noise, stepped out of the blocks before he'd settled, got up and put his finger to his lips to ask for some hush.
He led from the sound of the starters' gun to the finish, extending his lead over the last four hurdles to cross in his season-best 13.09 seconds. His Chinese teammate and Athletes' village roommate Shi Dongpeng took silver in 13.38.
The 2004 Olympic champion then stripped off his red Chinese singlet, draped a Chinese flag around his shoulders and set off on a victory lap of the 80,000-seat Aoti stadium.
“I didn't think I'd be able to run 13.09 seconds and break the Asian Games record. I'm really so happy and actually I was very relaxed. The atmosphere in the stadium was really great,” Liu said.
China came into these games with the target of overhauling the record 166 gold medals it set at the Doha Asian Games four years ago.
Olympic champion diver Wu Minxia ensured China equaled that mark earlier Wednesday with an expected win in the women's 1-meter springboard.
Li Hong won the women's 50-kilogram division in karate to secure No. 167. A couple of hours later, Liu was celebrating on the podium.
South Korea was in second place, a long way behind, with 71 gold medals. The most important thing was, the team was still at the games.
North Korea's Yang Chun Song met South Korea's Kim Dai-sung in the men's freestyle 66-kilogram division in the first meeting of two Koreans first thing Wednesday morning.
Yang advanced to the quarterfinals with a 3-0 win. There was no spite, and the wrestlers shook hands.
Afghanistan set up an Asian Games cricket semifinal against Pakistan with a comfortable eight-wicket win over Hong Kong, while Sri Lanka overcame some nervous moments in a two-wicket win over Nepal.
Li Caixia's 4.30m was good enough to win the women's pole vault and Su Xiongfeng denied double defending champion Hussain Al-Saba of Saudi Arabia a third title with a best of 8.05m in the long jump. Al-Saba finished third. China's Su Xiongfeng took the silver.
Iran's Ehsan Hadadi defended his discus title with best of 67.99m.
Qatar's Nigerian-born Femi Ogunode, who won gold in the men's 400m here on Monday, looked in great form when clocking the fastest time of 20.58sec in heats for the men's 200m. But there was more woe for teammate Samuel Francis, who was hot favorite for the 100m but was disqualified after a false start.
The sprinter, also from Nigeria but now competing for the Gulf state, was in total control of his heat before tying up in the final 20 metres and staggering across the line in third (21.16sec) clutching his right hamstring.
But another foreign import who looks a class apart on the track, Bahrain's Ethiopian-born Maryam Jamal, remained on course for the middle-distance double after qualifying for Thursday's 800m final with ease.
Jamal, the double world champion in the 1500m, won the 1500m title on Tuesday and will be the woman to beat when she tries to repeat the double she achieved at the 2006 Asiad in Doha.
Jamal's Kenyan-born teammate and reigning world men's 1500m champion Yusuf Saad Kamel did not start the men's 800m heats.


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