Liu Xiang showed why he holds the stature of a leader in the men’s High Hurdles when he stepped on the track here in Istanbul and just made as little effort as needed to cruise and win his first heat semi-final in 7.53.
Liu had made no secret that he was worried about his start after he was disqualified for jumping the gun in Stockholm two weeks ago and then not feeling comfortable in his first round heat yesterday. But nothing transpired when the Chinese superstar set off to a blistering start and overshadowed the rest of the field.
Liu cut his effort as soon as he stepped down from the final hurdle and jogged to the line in 7.53 with the rest of the field obviously catching up in the run-in.
19-year-old Andrew Pozzi proved his maturity in such a big race and bettered his personal best time to 7.56 to cross the line in second and understate his realistic medal ambitions here in Istanbul.
Italy’s Emanuele Abate was also in the mix in third with 7.62 and advances to the evening final by right just like Konstatin Shabanov of Russia in fourth.
US champion Aries Merritt avoided disaster is the second semi-final the American setting from his blocks well before the gun-shot. His move was actually so early that there was no gun-shot hence no false start.
The second time of asking and understandably so, the American was extremely cautious off the blocks and he let World Junior champion Pascal Martinot-Lagarde do the talking in the lead. The Frenchman took the heat win in 7.60 with Merritt securing the autromatic qualifier in second at 7.65 just ahead of Lehann Fourie who was given the same time.
Poland’s Artur Noga completes the list of finalists.
Liu has been drawn in lane 3 for this evening’s final with Merritt and Pozzi in the lanes to his outside.
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF