Robles targets fast time in US

Cuba's Olympic high hurdles champion Dayron Robles will attempt to get close to 13 seconds when he sharpens his London Games build-up with his first athletics meetings in the United States next month.


The world record holder, whose best time this year is 13.19, is on a list of Cuban athletes who will compete at Diamond League meetings in Eugene, Oregon on June 2 and New York a week later.

"I am my own main rival," the 25-year-old told Reuters.

"When I'm in good form there are chances that rivals will worry more about you more than you about them.

"I'm looking to get in the best shape possible for London and not worrying about rivals."

Robles is one of Latin America's big hopes for a medal at the July 27-August 12 Games although he failed to reach the podium at the last two world championships, missing Berlin in 2009 through injury and was disqualified last year in Daegu after finishing first.

His chief rivals at the US meetings will be world champion Jason Richardson, David Oliver, who won bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and Aries Merritt, 60 metres hurdles world indoor champion and the fastest this year over 110 metres at 13.03 seconds.

Former world record holder and 2004 Olympic champion Liu Xiang of China also is expected to compete in the Oregon meeting, giving it a match-up of the world's three fastest hurdlers.

Robles holds the world record at 12.87 seconds with Liu's best one-hundredth of a second back and Oliver third at 12.89.

Cuban athletics federation sources said on Thursday the last time Cuban hurdlers raced in the United States was in the late 1980s and early 1990s when there was a more fluid exchange between the two countries with annual meetings in baseball and boxing among other sports.

"We're very interested in competing at the hurdlers' mecca," Robles's trainer Santiago Antunez told Radio Habana Cuba.

"The United States is a country with great hurdlers and there have always been good times at those meetings."

Antunez said 21-year-old Orlando Ortega, who has clocked 13.30 in the 110 hurdles this year, will also be going to the US.

"We're waiting for the visas from the United States," he said after a training session in Havana.

"We want to show how our preparations are going. We hope to run between 13.10 and 13 seconds. We're going to compete hard to make the most of our rivals and get good times."

Robles, though, clocked a poor 13.47 for third in his most recent race, in Puerto Rico on Saturday. He won the 2008 Beijing final in 12.93 seconds.

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