Healthy and confident with a new technique, former Olympic and world hurdles champion Liu Xiang predicted on Thursday the London Olympics year will bring his fastest times ever.
Liu Xiang takes part in a training session ahead of the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Istanbul, Turkey, March 8, 2012. [Photo/Xinhua]
"I hope to run faster than I ever have, both indoors and out," the 2004 Olympic champion said in a brief interview after a news conference to launch the world indoor championships starting on Friday.
The Chinese said he would run outdoors in Asia, the United States and Europe in the buildup to the London Games, another indication of his health and confidence.
In recent years, Liu has shied away from European meetings ahead of global championships because of the distance from home and the strain on his body.
Already the new technique, which reduces his approach to the first hurdle from eight to seven strides, has helped Liu in European indoor competitions to trim his Asian record for the 60 meters hurdles to 7.40 seconds.
In the absence of his arch-rival Dayron Robles, Liu is the big favorite for his first world indoor title since 2008. The final is on Sunday.
"I expect the new technique will help me run under 7.40 seconds indoors," he told the news conference. "I think it will help me a lot outdoors."
Liu has fully recovered from a foot injury that knocked him out of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and kept him off the track until late 2009.
His biggest success since then has been the silver medal at last year's world outdoor championships after Cuban world record holder and Olympic champion Robles was disqualified.
Liu, 28, had hoped to meet Robles in the indoor championships, but the Cuban withdrew this week with a back injury.
"I am sorry Dayron Robles and (American) David Oliver are not here because the 60 meters hurdles indoors are for them better than me," Liu said.
"For me, indoor is not my strong point because the first part of the 110 meters hurdles I am not so strong at, so this will be a good challenge for me."
The three should meet in the Olympic final, but as confident as he is these days, Liu did not consider himself the favorite for London.
"It is my own challenge just to do my best," Liu said. "That is all I can think about."