Liu Xiang does it ... and it's so easy
The following is issued on behalf of the 2009 East Asian Games (Hong Kong) Limited:
There is a steely determination in his stare ahead ... focused on his goal 110 metres away.
In his favourite lane "three", he ripples his taut muscles, twitches his neck from side to side and limbers up, waiting ...
Liu Xiang is oblivious to those runners on either side of him. He does, however, smile and wave when his name is called on the tannoy system.
Then he does one final practice thrust from the starting block ... and is ready.
He is now in his own world. The packed stand of the Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground is hushed ... everyone's on their feet. The 10 towering residential blocks (all windows packed with heads of eager fans) also stand silent and waiting.
The distant traffic hardly matters. Suddenly the call is made ...
He's on his mark, ready and ...
As is usual with his latest runs, he pushes his way to the lead. Then he stretches his powerful left leg over the bar and gobbles up the metres ahead. He is well in front at the first hurdle, and like a cheetah at full stretch he does not ease up until the 10th barrier is hurdled.
At the tape, easing down, Liu is timed at 13.66 seconds, a pleasant practice for the more important races to come ... next year ... and the London Olympics.
He breaks into a wide grin and acknowledges the thunderous applause and wild cheers of the crowd. Even the nearby towers seemed to have grown arms and wave their salute to China's megastar athlete.
This run is so very crucial to prove his point that he has recovered and can forget the nightmare of Beijing.
After waving to the crowd, he contemplates the long road ahead. There'll be more races next year, but it's in London that he wants to prove he's well in front when it comes to hurdling.
Ends/Friday, December 11, 2009