World and Olympic champion Liu Xiang conquered the only title that was missing from his already long list of honours when winning the 60m Hurdles final in 7.46 in Valencia’s Velodrome tonight.
After a bronze from Birmingham and a silver from Budapest, Liu has now a full collection of World Indoor medals in a progression very similar to his outdoor rise to the top, the Chinese having won bronze in Paris 2003, silver in Helsinki 2005 and gold last year in Osaka.
At 24, Liu has further strengthened his status as the strongest favourite for retaining his Olympic title in front of his home crowd this summer despite his repeated statements that he will not feel any pressure when Beijing’s competition begins in August.
"The result is so great," said Xiang. My performance was good but before the competition I didn't know if I would be the World champion. I feel sorrt for Robles, I don't know if I would have been the champion if he had also run."
Robles failed to advance past the first round when he stopped running erroneously thinking that Xiang had false started .
"For the Olympics I will go step by step. I feel very confident and it would almost be natural for me to win. Anyway, I hope so."
Just like he had done in his semi final, Britain’s Allan Scott caused a false start after which Liu, who’s known for being an excellent starter, played it cautiously coming out of the blocks.
It was three-time World Indoor champion Allen Johnson who was marginally ahead of the field at the first barrier.
Although 37 years of age, Johnson held on to Liu’s natural speed until the second hurdle but couldn’t match the Chinese change of speed in the final stages of the race.
American Indoor record holder Johnson settled for silver with 7.55 for his first silver medal in a World Indoor or Outdoor IAAF Championships. (Johnson has a record 7 gold and 1 bronze).
For the third time this evening the judges assigned a joint bronze medal with Stanislavs Olijars and Evgeniy Borisov both credited 7.60.
Spain’s Jackson Quinonez who received a loud cheer from the crowd when the finalists were presented could not raise to the occasion and had to settle for seventh in 7.66.
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF