Daegu set for mouthwatering hurdles showdown

SYDNEY - The 110 metres hurdles has rarely been one of the glamour events of athletics but that could all change when the three fastest high hurdlers of all time come together at the World Championships in South Korea.

Cuban Dayron Robles and China's Liu Xiang are back from injury and ready to take on powerful American David Oliver with expectations high that they could produce the most spectacular showdown on the Daegu track.

Largely in the absence of the two most recent Olympic champions, Oliver has dominated the last two seasons and went unbeaten in 18 finals from the end of August 2009 to May this year.

The 29-year-old's grip on the event has slipped over the last few months, however, as a resurgent Robles (twice) and Liu beat him in Diamond League meetings.

China's Liu is the only one of the trio to have won the world title - in Osaka in 2007 - but the 28-year-old has rarely been fit since as he continues to deal with the foot problem that led to his dramatic exit from the Beijing Olympics.

A former world record holder and 2004 Olympic champion with a career best time of 12.88, Liu has competed sparingly this year but managed to end Oliver's formidable winning streak in his home town of Shanghai.

Oliver soon avenged the defeat in Oregon by running the only sub-13 second time of the year (12.94) but Liu's time of 13.00 in second place confirmed that he was firmly back in business.

"Liu Xiang is in good form, his health, technique and stamina are in a good state as well," China's head coach Feng Shuyong told reporters in Beijing on Thursday.

"His injury has recovered gradually. He got good results this year because the injury is gradually getting better so he has been able to train more systematically.

"But the biggest challenge for him might be running three races in two days for the first time since 2008."

That was the year that Robles took both Liu's world record, when he ran 12.87 in Ostrava, and his Olympic title in Beijing but the 24-year-old Cuban's career has also been disrupted by injuries since.

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