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Liu Xiang rings changes for speed

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OPTIMISTIC:Liu Xiang hopes a major technical change to his start will reap dividends at theWorld Indoor Championships.— PHOTO: AFP
OPTIMISTIC:Liu Xiang hopes a major technical change to his start will reap dividends at theWorld Indoor Championships.— PHOTO: AFP

Chinese athletics superstar Liu Xiang is hoping a major technical change to his start will reap dividends at this weekend's World Indoor Championships and the outdoor season to follow.

Liu has cut to seven from eight the number of strides he takes before the first hurdle, the “power” phase when hurdlers try to maximise speed from the blocks into the hurdling rhythm that then follows.

The alteration has been made, Liu said, in the expectation that it will lead to faster times as he seeks a second Olympic 110m hurdles gold at the London Games this summer.

The 28-year-old Chinese hurdler was a shock gold medallist in the high hurdles at the 2004 Athens Games and remains history's second fastest man in the event, but also has a fine pedigree over the 60m hurdles in World indoor competition.

Liu won gold at the 2008 Valencia world indoors to add to previous silver and bronze showings, and has proven himself to be in fine form coming into this competition.

“I have three medals of different colours, and I hope to add another,” Liu said.

He set a new Asian record of 7.41sec in Birmingham, England, last month but followed that up with a false start disqualification in his next race in Stockholm, something he took as a timely reminder as to race tactics.

“I felt pretty good in Birmingham,” he said. “But I made a mistake in Stockholm. It was a warning to me, a reminder that I have to be more careful and focused.”

New challenge

Liu called his step change a “new challenge”.

“In my opinion, the seven strides is faster,” he said. — AFP

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