For the next two months, Nike is sponsoring a daily homage to the World Indoors. From Monday to Friday, we feature athletes from US, UK, Europe, Africa and Asia. On Saturdays and Sundays, we feature a great moment from World Indoor Championship history, again thanks to sponsor, Nike. We hope that you like this series.
Today, Week 2, Day 6, we feature that amazing Liu Xiang, and his exciting win over the very strange 60 meter hurdles at the 2008 World Indoor Championships, Valencia, Spain.
Oh, how does one speak about China’s Liu Xiang? Probably the most talented hurdler of his generation? But also one, whose heart and dreams were bigger than the frailties of his mortal engine. In 2007 and early 2008, Liu Xiang was one of the finest hurdlers of his generation. What was key to his success?
Well, Liu Xiang had a strong start and a ferocious finish. But, probably most important was how he controlled both the speed and hurdling. It was all in the rythm. Don’t believe me, just go on You Tube and watch this Chinese superstar hurdle.
The 2008 World Indoors in Valencia, Spain was like all World Indoor Championships. Put many of the finest athletes on these banked 200 meter Mondo tracks and you were combining roller derby with the intimacy of European athletics. There is bumping, grinding, falling and noise. Lots of noise.
Going into the World Indoors, it was Dayron Robles and Liu Xiang. Dayron, the charming, then Cuban hurdler, with an amazing Che Guevera shirt and a beret off the track, was at the top of his game. However, like his countryman, Alberto Juanterena, who missed a starting gun in the 1970s, Dayron mistook a noise during the heats, asa call back in the 2008 World Indoors. Dayron and his coaching team, and his federation protested, but, alas, the fine Cuban was out of the game.
Liu Xiang, lets talk about him. First, the medals, Liu Xiang won gold medal at World Outdoors in 2007 Osaka, after silver medals in 2005 Helsinki, 2003 Paris (he would win silver in 2011 Daegu). At the Olympics, Liu Xiang won the gold in 2004.
His win in Osaka was a huge deal in 2007.
The Chinese hurdler, Liu Xiang was one of the finest hurdlers of his generation, and one of the finest Chinese sportsmen of all times. His hurdling in 2007, and early 2008, were amazing.
His run in Valencia, in the final, was a seasonal best, taking gold in 7.46. Behind him, the finest American hurdler of his generation, Allen Johnson, took second in 7.55, with a rare tie for third, with Evgeniy Borisov, Russia, 7.60 and Stanislav Olijars, Lativa, 7.60m.
This was a great moment for Liu Xiang. He would be injured in the 2008 Olympics and require achilles surgery. He would come back and take silver in 2011 Daegu and 2012 Instanbul. Again, his achilles would haunt him at a second Olympics, and he would not finish the London 2012 Olympic heats.
But, in March 2008, Liu Xiang was the finest indoor hurdler in the world, and World Champion.