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Bolt dominates as Shanghai cheers on Liu

World and Olympic triple gold medallist Usain Bolt launched his IAAF Diamond League campaign in Shanghai on Sunday with a comfortable 200m win in 19.76 seconds. Bolt, who holds the world record of 19.19, was the only man to break the 20-second barrier, with American Angelo Taylor second in 20.34 followed by American Ryan Bailey in 20.43. “It was a good run, the feeling was good but it was not easy. I am not in the best shape but enjoyed it,” Bolt said. “I look forward to the next race.”

Bolt and Chinese hurdling star Liu Xiang were highlight attractions at the second stop of the 14-event Diamond League competition.

It was his first race in China since his triple-gold Olympic performance at the 2008 Beijing Games and the crowd roared him on as he jogged a victory lap around the stadium.

“I really wanted a good time, I’m not going to China very often,” Bolt said.

Bolt ran 9.86 seconds - the fastest time of the year so far - to win his season-opening 100m at South Korea’s Daegu Pre-Championships Meeting last week. His fastest 200m of the season was 19.56 in Kingston earlier this month.

The 100m and 200m world record holder is being pursued by American Tyson Gay and fellow Jamaican Asafa Powell, who have both made it clear they aim to beat him this year - and Bolt himself has said it could be the season to do it.

But with Gay and Powell staying away from Shanghai, Bolt dominated the 200m race, part of what he is calling an “off-season” in which he intends to get as much rest as possible ahead of next year’s world championships.

Bolt’s 200m race in Shanghai helps set the stage for three upcoming Diamond League showdowns with Gay, who fired a new warning in Bolt’s direction by shattering the 44-year-old straight line 200m world record on May 18. Fans screamed as Chinese star Liu stepped on to the track for the men’s 110m hurdles. Liu, who complained of pain in his Achilles tendon before the race, defied his own expectations with a third-place finish of 13.40 seconds.

American David Oliver won the race with the fastest time of the season at 12.99 and China’s Shi Dongpeng was second at 13.39.

But all eyes seemed to be on hometown hero Liu who is seeking to regain world-class form after finishing seventh in his international return at the World Indoor Championships in March.

Liu, who became the first Chinese man to win Olympics track and field gold at the 2004 Athens Games, is striving for his one-time record-breaking form after an Achilles heel injury force him out of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

US sprinter Carmelita Jeter continued her women’s 100m winning streak with a time of 11.09 seconds. World champion Shelly-Ann Fraser of Jamaica came second finishing in 11.29 seconds.

The Diamond League awards points depending on performances throughout the 14-event programme with the winners of the 16 meets taking home a diamond trophy and a cash prize.

For next round, the Diamond League moves to Oslo for its first European stop on June 4.

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