Liu equals 110m hurdles record in wind-aided run

Greg Heakes
China's Liu Xiang, pictured in May 2012, charged to victory in the 110 metres hurdles, holding off a star-studded field to equal the world record with a wind-aided 12.87sec run in the Diamond League

China's Liu Xiang charged to victory in the 110 metres hurdles at the Diamond League's Prefontaine Classic, holding off a star-studded field to equal the world record with a wind-aided 12.87sec run.

Liu, the 2004 Olympic gold medallist, blasted out of the blocks and led from start to finish with the help of a strong tailwind measured at +2.4 metres per second in front of a standing room crowd at Hayward Field.

Because of the tailwind, the 28-year-old Liu does not get a share of the world record held by Cuba's Dayron Robles.

"Of course I am happy," said Liu, through a translator. "But I can't dwell on it (time). I need to keep looking forward."

American world indoor champion Aries Merritt finished second in 12.96, while Jason Richardson was third in 13.11 in a field that boasted hurdlers holding five of the top six times in the world this year.

Liu's time was faster than his own world-leading time of 12.97, clocked at the Shanghai Diamond League meet last month and achieved without the aid of the wind.

He said a change in technique, taking seven steps before the first hurdle instead of his usual eight, has helped him get off to a strong start in 2012.

"The most significant thing about my technique is my start where I take seven steps," Liu said. "But today I made a mistake beginning on the third hurdle which lasted until the sixth hurdle because the wind was pushing me so much."

Despite his performance, Liu, when asked if he should now be considered the favourite for London, replied: "No, for me I am already an Olympic champion.

"It is just a race for me. I always treat my races like just a regular race."

Liu was one of seven athletes who ran world-leading times on Saturday.

Reigning world champion Mo Farah of Great Britain triumphed in the 5,000m in a world-leading time of 12min 56.98secs. Isaiah Kiplangat Koech of Kenya was second in 12:57.63 and American Galen Rupp finished third in 12:58.90.

"The crowd got behind me. I was really pleased. It was awesome," Farah said.

Farah maintained that he will wait until he performs in the 10,000m in London before deciding whether to double up with the 5,000m.

"The 10,000 is the first race," Farah said. "I will see how I feel after that."

Reigning Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia finished fourth in 13:01.48.

On the women's side, Sanya Richards-Ross captured the 400 metres in a world-leading 49.39sec and Mariem Alaoui Selsouli won the 3,000 race in a world-leading 8:34.47.

"I knew I had a good race in me," said Richards-Ross, who is fresh off her world indoor title in the 400. "To come out and run a world-leading time and beat a really good field today is a great feeling."

Russia's Anna Chicherova won the women's high jump with a leap of 2.02 metres, bettering the previous world-leading mark of 2.00 which was held by American Chaunte Lowe.

In other highlights Saturday, reigning Olympic gold medallist LaShawn Merritt used a late burst to overtake Kirani James in the final 20 metres to win the men's 400m in 44.91sec.

The 18-year-old James, of Grenada, ran under protest after the 2011 world champion false started earlier. His protest was denied, allowing Bahama's Chris Brown to move into second in 45.24. American Angelo Taylor finished third in 45.59.

"I executed the home stretch," Merritt said. "In the past I have come down the home stretch and really beat myself but not this time."

American Justin Gatlin, the reigning world indoor champion, continued to impress winning the 100m in 9.90secs to edge out Jamaica's Nickel Ashmeade who finished in 9.93.

"I want to go out and just dominate races," said Gatlin. "Right now I am just worried about winning. It doesn't matter whether it is a 9.7 or 10.7.

"It is going to be a W or it is going to be an L."

Kenya's Asbel Kiprop, who holds the second fastest time in the world this year in the 1,500m, won the Bowerman Mile with a world-leading time of 3:49.40.

Mekonnen Gebremedhin of Ethiopia finished second (3:50.17) while Ayanleh Souleiman was third (3:50.21).