Athletics-Hurdler Robles keen to avoid contact with friend Liu

Reuters

Wed, 22 Feb 19:22:00 2012

Olympic 110 metres hurdles champion Dayron Robles is happy to rub shoulders with rival Liu Xiang off the track but will hope to avoid any contact with his rival when they next line up in competition.

The Cuban was stripped of gold after he was ruled to have obstructed Liu during the final at the world championships in Daegu, South Korea last September.

Firm friends off the track, world record holder Robles has no hard feelings about the protest made by Liu which led to the title going to American Jason Richardson. Liu, of China, was awarded the silver.

"Outside the track we have been big friends for many years," Robles told Reuters in a TV interview on Wednesday ahead of an indoor meeting in Stockholm. "But on the track I need to win and he needs to win. It's war on the track every time."

The pair met for the first time since the 2011 world championships last weekend in Birmingham, England, where Liu breezed to victory in the 60 metres hurdles in a time of 7.41 seconds, nine hundredths ahead of Robles.

"That was a once-off thing," Liu, the 2004 Olympic champion said of the Daegu clash through an interpreter.

Liu has struggled with injury since stunning home fans in 2008 when he limped out of the Beijing Olympics with an Achilles problem and although pleased with his progress, refused to be drawn on who he thought the favourite would be for gold at this year's London Games.

"Of course every athlete would like to be the champion - no matter what competition it is," the 28-year-old said. "But to me, I always think that to compete in the Olympic Games is already quite good.

"I'm just thinking about how to make it to the final. And then in the final anything can happen."

 

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