Chinese sprinter Su Bingtian has dedicated his emotional men's 100-meter final run in Tokyo to star hurdler Liu Xiang, the first Chinese athlete to win a gold medal on the track in the men's 110m hurdles in Athens 2004.
Finishing sixth in 9.98 seconds, Su is the first Chinese to qualify for the Olympic 100m final after setting an Asian record of 9.83 seconds in a highly competitive semifinal. Before Su, the last time an Asian runner reached the final of the Olympic blockbuster event was at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, where Japan's Takayoshi Yoshioka finished last.
"I have always been in contact with my bro (Liu) Xiang, and he is constantly encouraging me and supporting me. And I remember that every year on his birthday, I would give him my blessing," Su told China Media Group after learning that Liu was singing his praises on social media.
"When I broke the 10-second barrier, Xiang was there. So, for me, he is not only my idol but also probably my god of luck. I am very grateful to him because he is really a trailblazer for our Chinese track and field team," he said.
Liu held the world record in 110m hurdles with a time of 12.88 seconds in 2006 but was affected by an Achilles problem in the latter stages of his career and pulled out of his heats in the Beijing and London Olympics due to recurring injuries.
Su highlighted the fact that before Liu, no Chinese athlete had ever won a medal in an Olympic sprint event and for all Liu's injury records, he is an inspiration to all.
"If Liu Xiang had not come to prominence, many people might not have dared to dream that we could appear in the final of the Olympic Games and that we Asians are able to win a track and field gold," said Su.
"I finished sixth in the 100m final, and hopefully, I could also bring encouragement to younger athletes and drive more young Chinese players to break the 10-second barrier!" he said.
The 4×100m relay is next up for Su, and the 31-year-old veteran is brimming with confidence.
"Today's (100m final) results did not disappoint, and I hope that we can continue to show the speed of China in the 4×100m relay in two days," he said.