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  • Submitted by: lena campos
  • 06 / 05 / 2012

Liu Xiang lunged across the finish line and quickly looked up to his left at the giant scoreboard.

Then, he impatiently waited.

A split second later -- only it felt like an eternity -- the board flashed Liu's time in big, white characters -- 12.87 seconds.

Liu Xiang celebrates his win in the 110-meter hurdles on Saturday at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore.

That sent the 110-meter hurdler from China straight into euphoria as he thrust his fist into the air before dancing and skipping around the track with unbridled exuberance.

Sure, there was the excitement from holding off a star-studded field to get the win at the Prefontaine Classic on Saturday. But there also was that glittering time on the scoreboard.

Maybe at first he thought he had tied the world record, but it turned out to be wind-aided by a slight margin. So the world mark set by Cuba's Dayron Robles remains safe for now.

Long after the race was finished -- and after Liu did a celebratory lap around the track to high-five anyone with an extended hand -- he was asked if he ever thought about breaking world records.

"No. I never think about that," Liu said through a translator. "I think I can run that fast. I'm ready for that."

Liu once held the world mark when he finished in 12.88 seconds during a race in July 2006. Nearly two years later -- just before the 2008 Beijing Olympics -- Robles took the record.

And there it has stood.

Robles actually was scheduled to be in Saturday's field, but had trouble securing his visa and pulled out of the competition at the last hour.

There were still plenty of other rivals to push Liu, who held off Aries Merritt and Jason Richardson in what was billed as one of the marquee events at Pre. This race certainly lived up to the billing, with Liu getting off to a good start in the impressive victory.

"I just treated it as a regular race," Liu said.

His reaction to the win proved it was anything but just another race, especially this close to the London Olympics.

And had the wind not been gusting, this very well could've been a performance to remember.

These days, nothing Liu accomplishes on the track comes as a shock to Richardson.

"He's just amazing," Richardson said. "It almost goes without saying."

Allyson Felix was hard to miss in her aerodynamic black bodysuit with neon yellow patches on each leg. She was impossible to catch, too.

In a 200-meter race that was supposed to be tight, Felix breezed away from the field, easily beating training partner Jeneba Tarmoh and crushing her main rival, Carmelita Jeter.

Felix's time of 22.23 seconds was hardly spectacular, but her performance was, especially with the Summer Games right around the corner. She showed that she's definitely rounding into form.

"I feel like I'm in a good place right now," Felix said. "I tried to focus and power in. But they told me it didn't look like I pushed very hard at the end."

Actually, she didn't appear to have to work very hard at all.

Felix risked a quick glance back after rounding the bend, just a tiny peek to size up who was about to make a move.


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