| Liu Xiang
Newly-elected CPPCC member Liu Xiang is absent at the current annual session of the top political advisory body - but made his presence strongly felt.
Members hailed the victory of the ace hurdler at the 12th World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain, early yesterday Beijing time.
Liu claimed the first indoor athletics gold medal for China by winning the men's 60m hurdles, making a perfect start to his Olympic season.
It is the first indoor world championship for Liu, which makes him a new graand slam winner with the Olympic gold and the world championships, both outdoor and indoor.
"I am very happy I didn't expect a win," said a modest Liu after clocking 7.46 seconds to collect the gold.
Liu's performance also eliminated his strongest rival Dayron Robles from Cuba in the heats. While Liu made a perfect start in the heats with a reaction speed of 0.105 seconds, just 0.005 seconds within the permissible limit, Robles stayed in his blocks and stood up at the start as the gun went, expecting a false start to be called.
"I felt that this put him off," Liu said. "It is better to keep running until you hear the second pistol."
The Shanghai native emerged as a national hero after claiming the gold medal in the men's 110m hurdles at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, and has not stopped enthralling the nation since then with his victories.
At the 2006 Super Grand Prix meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, he set the new world record of 12.88 seconds, knocking 0.03 of a second off the previous record he shared with Britain's Colin Jackson.
The following year, he was crowned the outdoor world champion at Osaka, Japan, making history for China.
In 2005, Liu was named the Laureus World Newcomer of the Year.
With a string of honors and titles, Liu was elected a member of CPPCC from the sports arena this year. The 24-year-old is also one of the youngest of the more than 2,000 members.
Due to the indoor competition schedule, the hurdler had to ask for leave from the CPPCC session this year to concentrate on his racing and training for the Beijing Olympics.
According to Liu's coach Sun Haiping, he was in his best form at the winter training camp and expects good results in the outdoor competitions before the Games.
The 110 m Olympic champion is also exuding quiet confidence.
"It's only natural to think about defending my Olympic champion status for the Beijing Games," he was quoted as saying by Xinhua. "I'm fully confident."