With defending champion Dayron Robles having withdrawn from the Championships just a few days before the start of the competition here in Istanbul, all eyes were set on the previous winner of this title, China’s Liu Xiang.
Lining up in the second of four morning heats, the former 110m Hurdles World record holder was undoubtedly conscious of his latest appearance on the indoor circuit a couple of weeks back in Stockholm where the Chinese superstar was disqualified for false starting.
There was no need for Liu to take unnecessary risks this morning and it was obvious he wouldn’t when he set off to an extremely cautious start with a reaction time 0.214!
Liu would later explain that he “waited for the athlete on my right to go off to start. I false started in Stockholm and did not want to make the same mistake.”
Liu found himself trailing coming off the first obstacle but his superiority showed when he calmly changed gears and moved up just what he needed to take one of the three automatic qualifiers finishing second in 7.62.
Great Britain’s Andrew Pozzi was the heat winner and fastest qualifier this morning with 7.61 with Germany’s Helge Schwarzer taking third in 7.72.
The first heat was the most dramatic with Algeria’s Othman Hadj Lazib being disqualified for false starting after he had actually run all the way through the finish line not having heard the recall gun.
At the second time of asking, the race went off to a fair start and it was World Junior champion Pascal Martinot-Lagarde who came out on top in 7.66, just one hundredth of a second ahead of South Africa’s Lehann Fourie.
The other heats winner were US champion Aries Merritt with 7.66 and Emanuele Abate (7.71) who improved the Italian national record to 7.57 this winter.
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF