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Asiad: Liu Xiang Triumphant, Chinese Continue Gold Digging
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Olympic champion and world record holder Liu Xiang clocked 13.15s for a stylish victory in the men's 110 meter hurdles yesterday, inspiring a Chinese gold harvest on the last day of athletic competition at the Asian Games.

The 23-year-old Liu, who shattered the world record when he ran in 12.88 seconds at an IAAF meet in Lausanne back in July, finished in a Games record of 13.15 to retain his Asiad title. Four years ago, he won the 110m hurdles in 13.27.

His teammate Shi Dongpeng took silver improving his personal best in 13.28, and Japan's Masato Naito took bronze in 13.60.

"I didn't expect myself to run so fast, a 13.20 was a pretty good result," said a flag-draped Liu after the race. "The standard of the men's 110m hurdles event at these Games was much higher than in Busan."

In addition to Liu's victory, China won three other events to increase its total tally of athletic gold medals to 14, equaling its record in Busan four years ago.

Asian record holder Gao Shuying underlined her status as the continent's No.1 in women's pole vault as the 27-year-old Chinese cleared a height of 4.30 meters to retain her title. Malaysia's Samsu Roslinda took silver and the bronze went to Japanese Ikuko Nishikori.

Li Yanxi, making his Asian Games debut, claimed gold in the men's triple jump with a personal best leap of 17.06 meters, ahead of Kazakhstan's Roman Valiyev (16.98m) and South Korea's Kim Deok-hyeon (16.87m).

Qin Wangping then showed her leadership skills, anchoring the Chinese women's relay team to victory in the 4x100m final, finishing in 44.38 seconds. Japan came second in 44.87 while Chinese Taipei finished third in 45.86.

In the men's 4x100m relay, underdogs Thailand edged out favorites Japan in a photo finish for the gold medal. Both teams were timed at 39.21 seconds, while China finished a disappointing third place in 39.62.

Bahrain's Maryam Yusuf Jamal won the women's 1,500m making it a golden double following her victory in the 800m on Saturday. The 23-year-old former Ethiopian, maintaining an impressive run of form after victories in the World Athletics Final in Stuttgart and the IAAF World Cup in Athens, was in a class of her own as she finished in 4:08.63, more than six seconds ahead of Japanese runner-up Yuriko Kobayashi.

Qatar's James Kwalia C Kurui delighted home fans as the 20-year-old Kenyan-born athlete won the men's 5,000m final in 13:38.90, followed by Bahrain's Mucheru Salem Jawher and another Qatari Sultan Khamis Zaman.

Manjeet Kaur led an India quartet to a comeback victory in the women's 4x400m relay final, clocking a winning time of 3 minutes 32.95 seconds.

Kazakhstan grabbed silver in 3:33.86, while China had to settle for third place in 3:33.92 after leading for the first three legs.

Saudi Arabia emerged as the winner of the men's 4x400m relay, the last event of the six-day athletics competition, in 3:05.31 with India and Sri Lanka rounding out the podium with a sub-continental feel.

Although Liu Xiang was one of the few world class athlete in track and field events after Japan's Olympic hammer throw champion Koji Murobushi and two-time world 3,000 steeplechase champion Saif Saaeed Shaheen of Qatar pulled out due to injuries, only a few hundred spectators turned out at the Khalifa Stadium to watch the 23-year-old Shanghai native demolish his rivals in the final.

Liu said he was very satisfied with his performance in 2006, which saw him win eight out of 10 international competitions.

"This year was another peak for me following the Athens Olympic Games," he said.

Liu shocked the world in Athens 2004 when he won the Olympic gold medal with a then world-record-tying time of 12.91 seconds.

Liu's coach Sun Haiping said he was also delighted with the results.

"Liu's time was under 13.20, and Shi gave his best ever performance, so I am extremely satisfied," said Sun.

Heavily favored to win the last race of this season, Liu had set a modest target of 13.20 before the Asian Games.

(Xinhua News Agency December 13, 2006)

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