China's star hurdler, Liu Xiang, is looking forward to resuming his rivalry with American veteran Allen Johnson, who confirmed his participation at the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix meet yesterday.
The Sept 20 event will mark Lui's first race in 13 months after he suffered an ankle injury and the local hero said he is keen to renew acquaintances with his arch-rival.
"I haven't seen Johnson for a long time and I am very glad that he is coming to Shanghai. I will have a lot to talk to him about," Liu said.
The 38-year-old Johnson, a four-time men's 110m hurdles world champion and 1996 Olympic gold medalist, is Lui's idol and they met on the track many times between 2001-08.
At the 2002 Lausanne Grand Prix, Liu beat Johnson to win gold for the first time and that started his reign in men's sprint hurdling.
Two years later, at the Athens Olympics, an anticipated showdown between the rivals was foiled when Johnson tripped over a hurdle in the second preliminary round and was unable to reach the final. Liu went on to claim gold.
Liu boasts a good record against Johnson at the Shanghai event, beating him for gold in 2005 and 2006.
Their most recent clash was at the 2008 Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain, where Liu and Johnson finished one-two.
Due to injury, Johnson withdrew from the US national trials for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and, like Liu, has been absent from the track since then.
Coming back after a long rehabilitation period, Liu and his coach claim they are keen to meet their old nemesis.
"My feeling right now is like what I felt when Liu took part in a big event for the first time we have to start everything from the very beginning," said Liu's coach, Sun Haiping. "We are ready to start all over again."
(Xinhua News Agency September 16, 2009)