01 APR 2011 General News

Healthy Liu to take on Oliver in front of Shanghai home crowd – Samsung Diamond League

David Oliver en route to his commanding 12.99 victory in Shanghai (Errol Anderson)David Oliver en route to his commanding 12.99 victory in Shanghai (Errol Anderson) © Copyright

1 April 2011Shanghai is gearing itself up for a scintillating showdown between China’s hurdles icon Liu Xiang and 2010 World leader, David Oliver of the United States.

On May 15th China will be watching and waiting as the two go head to head in the Samsung Diamond League Dunlop Shanghai Golden Grand Prix in a mouth-watering clash of high hurdles superstars.

After his ground breaking gold medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics - the first track and field Chinese Olympic gold in history - Liu ruled the roost with a World record 12.88 in Lausanne 2006 and World Championship gold in Osaka 2007 to launch himself into the athletics stratosphere.

But then came injury and disappointment at the Beijing Olympic Games when Liu was cruelly struck down on the morning of the first heat and was forced to withdraw in tears of frustration.

Finally healthy

In 2010 he returned after a 13-month lay-off and despite missing more than a year of competition showed his true talents by finishing the year as the world’s third fastest man with 13.09, set when retaining his Asian Games title.

But now Liu has to face Oliver, the man who finished 2010 as the fastest in the world with a blistering 12.89, just 0.01 off Liu’s former World record.

Sporting a bronze medal from the Beijing Games and bronze from the World Indoor Championships last year, the American does not come close to Liu’s array of achievements, but indoors this year has had the beating of Liu.

The two clashed over 60m Hurdles in Karlsruhe with the American winning and Liu crossing the line third with his fastest time of the winter of 7.55 compared to Oliver’s sizzling 7.40.

This time last year, Oliver also pushed Liu into third in Shanghai, the American clocking a sparkling 12.99 to Liu’s 13.40.

But on that occasion Liu was barely on the comeback trail after his debilitating injury. One year on and with a clean bill of health, he will be looking to unseat the man from Kissimmee to re-establish himself as the best high hurdler on the planet.

Thorkildsen also confirmed

One man with no peer is Andreas Thorkildsen who in Barcelona last summer became the first javelin thrower to hold Olympic, World and European titles at the same time. Not even the great Jan Zelezny could boast that accolade.

Thorkildsen’s surprise gold in the Athens Games was to kick-start one of the great careers in modern athletics. Two years later he collected the first of his two European golds and then in Berlin 2009 struck gold yet again, his first World crown to add to two successive silvers. In between times, he travelled to Beijing to collect his second Olympic title with consummate ease.

The man from Kristiansand in southern Norway comes to Shanghai to defend the title he won last year with a throw of 86.11. Thorkildsen ended the season with a best of 90.37 and owned the top four marks in the world. Shanghai is in for a javelin throwing treat.

Chinese sprinter Li ready to please home crowd

Sprinter Yao Li, 25, has become the darling of the Chinese public after claiming the Asian Games 100m title in 10.24, making him Asia’s top sprinter.

Li, who competes for Guangxi, announced his intentions with a bang in June last year when he emerged from the Chongqing National Games with an impressive lifetime best of 10.21, lopping a massive 0.14 off his previous mark.

It was Liu Xiang’s avowed aim to show the world that Asians can sprint and Li is intent on following in Liu’s footsteps. Shanghai is a stepping stone to putting Chinese sprinting on the world map.

Organisers for the IAAF