Xiang Liu (l) battles with Allen Johnson in Rome (Gettty Images) © Copyright
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Liu Xiang thunders to Area record equalling 13.06 - Chinese Olympic team announced

Liu Xiang, the 21yearold gold medal hope for the Chinese in Athens, who is currently the second IAAF World Ranked athlete at the sprint Hurdles, proved once again that he will be really battling for Olympic gold in a few weeks time.

Liu Xiang, who is already a World Championships 110m Hurdles bronze medallist from Paris last summer, competed in his own country for a change last weekend. In a National Grand Prix competition in Tianjin, China.

He first cruised to a 13.90 heat win, but in the final he had a different pace altogether. He stormed to 13.06, to equal his almost three-month-old Asian record which set in Osaka, Japan, in May. With this kind of time coming without any competition around him, one can only wait for the duel between the Chinese and Allen Johnson (USA).

Hammer hopes

Another medal hope, World Junior record holder Zhang Wenxiu, won the women's Hammer with 71.99m. Gu Yuan, 4th in Paris World Championships last year, was in trouble after her shoe was torn apart during her first try but came back with a loaned shoe to earn second place behind Zhang with 69.31m. She said that she was disappointed with her result, but it was understandable because of her foot-ware trouble.

In the other events there aren't too many Olympic medal hopes other than the walkers.

Sun Yingjie, third in the Paris women’s World 10,000m, will be seeking a medal in the 5000m and 10,000m in Athens. The question remains whether she has fully recovered from her injury or not. One thing seems certain, she will not run the Marathon in Athens.

Xing Huina, who set the World Junior 10,000m record  (30:31.55) when finishing seventh in Parus will be running the same events as Sun.

Zhou Chunxiu enters the marathon competition as one of the fastest this season. She won the national championships in 2:23:28, but has no experience of international competition yet, as this will be her first marathon outside China.

Race Walkers offer great medal potential

All of the walkers of course have a chance for medals.

On the men's side, Han Yucheng is the strongest candidate to rise onto the podium. He has been entered to both 20km and 50km walks. He is the best Chinese over both distances and won the national championships recording 1:19:30 for 20km and an Asian record of 3:39:10 for 50km walk. He was also fourth in the World Cup in Naumburg 20km and won the IAAF Challenge 20km in Kunshan.

Reigning women’s Olympic champion Wang Liping is also in, but has been a bit away from her best form lately for understandable reasons. She became a mother last November and has done very well even to enter the Olympics.

Both Jiang Jing and world leading (1:26:46) Song Hongjuan have a chance to fight for the win in the women’s walk. Song is the fastest in the world this season and placed sixth in the Naumburg World Cup, and Jiang, who started cautiously in the World Cup, challenged Russian Yelena Nikolayeva for the win and finished second with a personal best of 1:27:34.

Mirko Jalava for the IAAF


Chinese Olympic team to Athens 2004:

Season's best shown after the event

Men

Chen Haijian 100m 10.43
Yang Yaozu 200m 20.67
Dou Zhaobo 1500m 3:45.70

Li Zhuhong marathon 2:11:43
Zhu Ronghua marathon 2:13:11
Han Gang marathon 2:14:57

Liu Xiang 110m hurdles 13.06
Shi Dongpeng 110m hurdles 13.50

Liu Yang high jump 2.27m
Liu Feiliang pole vault 5.56m
Zhou Can long jump 8.11m
Li Yanxi triple jump 17.09m

Wu Tao discus 63.62m
Li Rongxiang javelin 83.32m

Qi Haifeng decathlon 7960p

Zhu Hongjun 20km walk 1:20:10
Liu Yunfeng 20km walk 1:20:06
Han Yucheng 20km walk 1:19:30, 50km walk 3:39:10
Yu Chaohong 50km walk 3:42:28
Alatangadasu 50km walk 3:45:41

Women

Li Xuemei 100m 11.32
Bu Fanfang 400m 52.99
Sun Yingjie 5000m 15:26.43, 10000m 31:50.90
Xing Huina 5000m 15:23.20, 10000m 32:48.28

Zhang Shujing marathon 2:29:53
Zhou Chunxiu marathon 2:23:28
Li Helan marathon 2:28:17

Su Yiping 100m hurdles 13.15
Huang Xiaoxiao 400m hurdles 56.18

Jing Xuezhu high jump 1.94m
Gao Shuying pole vault 4.45m
Zhao Yingying pole vault 4.40m
Guan Yingnan long jump 6.75m
Wang Lina long jump 6.72m
Liang Shuyan long jump 6.71m
Huang Qiuyan triple jump 14.51m
Zhang Hao triple jump 13.80m

Li Meiju shot put 18.89m
Li Fengfeng shot put 17.23m
Zhang Xiaoyu shot put 18.00m
Song Aimin discus 64.90m
Li Yanfeng discus 64.34m
Huang Qun discus 64.42m
Gu Yuan hammer 72.36m
Zhang Wenxiu hammer 72.42m
Liu Yinghui hammer 68.83m
Xue Juan javelin 60.90m
Ma Ning javelin 58.96m

Shen Shengfei heptathlon 6033p

Song Hongjuan 20km walk 1:26:46
Jiang Jing 20km walk 1:27:34
Wang Liping 20km walk 1:28:58