Liu Xiang: I will try my best
Shanghai (September 15) -- Superstar hurdler Liu Xiang met the press at a news conference for the 2005 Shanghai Golden Grand Prix and he was hopeful of victory in the 110 metres men’s hurdles.
Liu Xiang attended the conference with American rivals Allen Johnson and Dominique Arnold as he prepared to compete in front of his hometown and in front of millions of television viewers from all over the world expected to tune in to the competition, which will be held at Shanghai Stadium
The 22-year-old Olympic champion said: “Actually I didn’t prepare much. What is crucial is that I will try to do my best for Shanghai. Allen Johnson and Dominique Arnold are tough competitors, but if I perform to my best ability and I think I can win.‘’
Johnson, one of Liu’s toughest competitors who have won all the major competitions including a gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics and multiple wins at the World Championships, was thankful for being the opportunity to take part in the Shanghai meeting.
“I just like to say thank you for bringing me here for the second time [he was in Shanghai to help launch the event in April]. I am looking forward to competing on Saturday night and I think the hospitality we have received in Shanghai is second to none and it is by far one of the best in the world. I just want to say thank you,’’ said the American.
Johnson ended his season on a high by winning the IAAF World Athletics final in Monaco last weekend and he was hoping for a repeat performance against one of the toughest fields in the world.
“I hope I can repeat my performance from last weekend. I can only come here and do my best and it will be tough with Dominique [Arnold] and Liu Xiang competing as well. But I think it is going to be an exciting and close race. I think the people of Shanghai and China will get an opportunity to see a top class, international track and field meet,’’ said Johnson.
Asked whether he would like to have dinner with Liu Xiang in his hometown, Allen replied: “I would love to have dinner with him in his hometown. It would be nice to see how he lives in his hometown everyday and likewise if he was in the United States in my hometown I would invite him to see my everyday life as well.
“Liu Xiang and myself are friends but it is quite difficult to communicate because of the language barrier. We are always friendly towards to each other as well as the other hurdlers. We all talk and laugh and joke if you’d notice we are always talking to each other. So we’re friends.’’
American veteran hurdler Arnold was also looking forward to competing in the meeting.
He said: “I just want to say thank you for bringing me here as well. It’s the first time to be here in this part of the world and it’s great to be here. I was just reminding Allen [Johnson] that I have never been to a place where everyone is so generous. There’s a lot of hospitality here. It’s a great place to be. I haven’t had an opportunity to really go out on the town yet but you guys are really great and I do really appreciate you bringing me here.’’
Shanghai has certainly made a big impression on Arnold, who compared the city to New York with its skyscrapers and modern living.
“When I was driving from the airport, it looked like New York exploded with all the high rises and going higher and higher. When I wake up in the morning, I see Liu everyday from the building across my hotel room. There’s a big poster of him so you know I get to see Liu’s face everyday smiling at me!”
Arnold then said he was lucky to be competing with two of the greatest hurdlers in the world in Liu Xiang and Johnson.
“As far as the competition is concerned. You got two of the greatest hurdlers to step on the track. You know 12.91 [Liu’s best time] and 12.92 [Allen] and it’s not much more I can say about that. Obviously, it’s going to be a very difficult field this year and these guys are the greatest. Just for me to be here and be mentioned in the same breath as these guys, it’s an honour in itself.’’
Organisers expect a capacity crowd and already 80 per cent of tickets have been sold. The meeting has captured the imagination of the city with several high-level sports event rescheduled to make way for China’s biggest international athletics meeting.