SHANGHAI - Agence France-Presse
China’s medal hope Liu Xiang plays down his chances for the 2012 Olympics. REUTERS photo
Chinese athletics superstar Liu Xiang is playing down expectations for his performance at the London Olympics despite setting a season’s best time in the 110m hurdles on May 19.
Liu became China’s first ever Olympic track champion at Athens 2004 but four years later caused national angst when he dramatically pulled out injured in front of a packed stadium at Beijing 2008.
On his home turf in Shanghai at the Diamond League meeting on May 19, he clocked 12.97 seconds in wet conditions to beat two Americans, David Oliver and world outdoor champion Jason Richardson.
“I didn’t think I would run within 13 seconds, so seeing 12.97 seconds makes me extremely happy,” he said after his victory.
He sounded a note of modesty, saying it would be an honor merely to be in the Olympics.
“I don’t think about breaking the world record,” he said. “My dream is just to stand on the Olympic track.”
Richardson said Liu drew strength from the home crowd. “He’s incredibly hard to beat here,” Richardson said. “What was surprising was to see an entire country get behind one athlete. I wish we had a little bit more of that in America.”