DOHA, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- After Xie Wenjun took the fifth place in the men's 110m hurdles final at Doha athletics world championships, his former teammate, retired Olympic and world champion Liu Xiang texted to congratulate him.
Xie finished fifth in 13.29 seconds on Wednesday. The time is a far cry from Liu's Asian record of 12.88 but Xie created the best result of Chinese male hurdlers at the world championships after Liu.
"He texted to tell me that I did a good job," said Xie, who used to train with Liu under coach Sun Haiping.
In Liu's peak time, he took China's first ever Olympic gold medal in men's 110m hurdles in 2004 Athens Games before he again wrote history by winning the world championships in Osaka in 2007. In between, Liu set then world record of 12.88 in Lausanne in 2006.
Liu bagged a silver in Daegu world championships in 2011 and retired four years later. No Chinese male hurdles ever made it beyond the semifinals thereafter.
Wednesday's result filled Xie with much confidence to close the gap with the Chinese legend hurdler.
"I was lucky yesterday. If McLeod had not fell off, I could have taken the sixth place," he told Xinhua in an exclusive interview on Thursday. "Still, I think I have room to improve. I followed them closely in the first half of the race, which I did better than before."
In Wednesday's final, Olympic titlist and defending champion Omar McLeod of Jamaica lost his balance stumbling on the hurdles. He fell onto the track and in the same time blocked the way of Spanish Orlando Ortega beside him. He was later disqualified and the title went to NCAA champion Grant Holloway of the United States in 13.10 seconds. Ortega was later awarded a bronze medal through appeal.
"Luck will not always be on your side. Only real strength can determine how fast and how far you can go," said Xie. "My dream is to stand on the podium, even the top of the podium."
Xie revealed that Liu encouraged him to make more progress.
"He said I need to hit 13.10 if I want to win a medal. So I decide to improve on details in more aspects in this coming winter training," said the 29-year-old.