11/12/2009

Liu Xiang grabs hurdling hat-trick at Asian Championships

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Liu Xiang of China celebrates the victory with the national flag after the final of men's 110m hurdles at the 18th Asian Athletics Championships in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, Nov. 12, 2009. Liu won the gold with 13.50 seconds.

Liu led all through with his teammate Shi Dongpeng running close behind him. Liu cleared the hurdles comfortably and finally cruised to easy win amid heavy rain and Shi took the silver in 13.67, while South Korean Park Tae-Kyong finished third in 13.82.

Liu's win ignited the passion of home crowd. Liu and Shi both waved the country's flag to the cheering home crowd to celebrate the victory. Liu then took off his jersey and threw it to the screaming crowd.

"I felt so good to race in the rain," Liu said. "Now I want to refresh myself with a warm bath."

Altogether seven gold medals were decided in Thursday's events. Five of them were clinched by Chinese athletes and the other two went to Bahrain and Japan.

The morning session had the men's 20km walk, in which the title went to China's pre-event favorite Li Jianbo. The 23-year-old achieved the victory amidst the rain in 1:22:55, and his team-mate Chu Yafei was second by only one second. The bronze went to South Korea's Park Chil-Sung at 1:24:51.

Tarek Mubark of Bahrain defended his title in the men's 3,000m steeplechase. The winner of the event in the 2006 Doha Asian Games, established an early lead to clock eight minutes and 33.58 seconds in a rainy night.

"The rain was not a problem," said he. "I'm happy to defend my title and now I have no regrets here."

"My aim is to be an Olympic champion, and I have thought about it for over five years," he added.

Lin Xiangqian of China fought back from behind to take the silver in 8:34.13. Abubaker Ali Kamal of Qatar, bronze medallist of 800m and 1,500m at last Asian championships, finished third in 8:34.73.

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Liu Xiang of China competes during the final of men's 110m hurdles at the 18th Asian Athletics Championships in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, Nov. 12, 2009. Liu won the gold with 13.50 seconds.

In men's long jump, athletes from Saudi Arabia have been crowned at five straight Asian championships since 2000, but this time the domination was broken down by China's Li Jinzhe.

Li, 20, posted a mark of 8.16m, making him unbeatable in the final. The pre-event favorite Hussain Taher A Al Saba of Saudi Arabia recorded a below-par 7.96m, far from personal and seasonal best of 8.35m.

Al Saba grabbed the silver and China's Yu Zhenwei was third.

"I perform normally today," said 30-year-old Al Saba. "I would probably clinch the gold medal if I'm going to participate in next year's Asian Games."

Unexpected results also came in women's pole vault final, where China's Li Caixia took an unexpected win while the bronze medalist at 2005 Asian championships, Malaysia's Roslinda Samsu, flopped on a surprise.

Li, 22, chose the opening height of 3.80m and then cleared the following three heights on her first attempt. But She failed on the height of 4.45m, so the 4.30m finally turned out to be her winning jump.

"I am not quite satisfied with today's performance as I failed in challenging the height of 4.45m," said Li.

Samsu crossed an opening height of 3.60m on her second attempt but failed to overtake the next height of 3.80m, a far cry from her personal best of 4.40m and seasonal best 4.35m, and ranked only fifth in the final.

China's Wu Sha placed second with 4.15m and South Korea's Choi Yun-Hee the third with 4.00m.

The women's javelin final should have put on a very close tussle among the leading three athletes in Asia, China's Liu Chunhua, Li Lingwei and Japan's Yuki Ebihara, but Ebihara, bronze medalist at the 2006 Doha Asian Games, ranked only fourth in the final, as she posted a below-par mark of 47.03m, more than 13 meters shorter than her personal and season best of 60.84m.

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The gold medallist Liu Xiang (C) of China, his compatriot, the silver medallist Shi Dongpeng (L) and the bronze medallist Park Tae-Kyong of South Korea pose together during the awarding ceremony of men's 110m hurdles at the 18th Asian Athletics Championships in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, Nov. 12, 2009. Liu won the gold with 13.50 seconds.

China's Liu Chunhua bagged gold with an overwhelming 57.93m. Li placed second with 55.13m and South Korea's Kim Kyong-Ae got a bronze with 52.78m.

Japanese Tatsumi Yoshika claimed the third gold medal for her country as she won the women's 3,000 meters steeplechase final.

Tatsumi, the pre-event favorite, clocked 10 minutes and 5.94 seconds to win the race amid heavy rain, beating Sudha Singh of Indonesia by 4.83 seconds. The bronze also went to Indonesia's Kiran Tiwari in 10:34.55.

"I was in good form," said the winner. "The weather was not a problem to me. I am happy to be the gold medalist."

"My aim is to win a gold in the Asian Games next year," she added.

By far, China, Japan and Bahrain ranked top three on the medal stable. China has bagged 30 medals, while Japan garnered 10 and Bahrain three.

On day four, there will be 11 gold medals decided at the 18th Asian Athletics Championships.

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January 21, 2010 at 12:45 AM