Hurdling is an art made of sprinting and jumping. Liu Xiang is carrying the weight of a country on his shoulders. The Chinese hurdler is almost on superhero status in his native country as he attempts to defend his Olympic title at the 110-hurdles.
Three years ago, Xiang partnered with Nike to have a shoe specifically designed for this historical run. A task force was assigned spikes for Liu, which normally is a privilege reserved for Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, and Lance Armstrong.
Xiang will need everything to go his way. He is no longer the world record holder. In June, Dayron Robles of Cuba broke Xiang's record by running 12.87 in Ostrava, Czech Republic. David Oliver of the U.S. is another contender that the China superstar will have to deal with in the hurdle finals.
For Liu's Beijing shoe, Nike will combine the two designs that Liu wore when he won the Olympics and broke a world record. They will be a pair of spikes, colored bright yellow with a scarlet out-sole. They are called the Zoom Aerofly LX. To protect his right foot - the one attacking the hurdlers and landing first - Liu requested more thickness and padding at the heel.
The Zoom Aerofly LX is a revolutionary spike utilizing the innovative Flywire Technology in combination with a special synthetic leather in order to provide Liu Xiang with a featherlight shoe that provides maximum support.
If the Chinese hurdle star makes the medal stand, he will have to perform a quick clothes change. Adidas is the sponsor of the Chinese Olympic Association, so all Chinese athletes will wear the adidas "podium suit", even if they are wearing Nike gear underneath.