Liu Xiang warms China's weary World Cup hearts
Having endured soccer's World Cup finals minus their own national team, few sights could warm Chinese hearts more than hurdler Liu Xiang's half-naked dash draped in his country's flag.
Liu's spontaneous act of joy after smashing the 110 metres hurdles world record with a time of 12.88 seconds at Tuesday's grand prix meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, proved too infectious to ignore in media reports.
"Bare-chested and madly dashing about with wings of the national flag," cheered a headline in news web portal, Sina.com.
"Little Liu, you're too great!" said another carried by the official All-China Sports Federation website.
Liu himself was happy to break the usual American and European monopoly of track and field success.
"I'm the only yellow-skinned athlete who can beat the Europeans and Americans," Sina.com quoted the 22-year-old as saying.
Liu's coach, Sun Haiping, was satisfied, not only at his protege's "excellent result" but also the prospect of less media pressure.
"Before, journalists would all be asking him when he would break the world record... It's broken now, so don't ask again!" Sina.com quoted him as saying, adding that Liu could break the record again at any event if he was in form.
Liu's mother thought it was just a question of will for Liu to set a new mark in the future, Web portal Sohu.com reported.
"When he wants to break the world record, he will. If he doesn't, he won't!" she said.
Liu's father was less swept away by his son's achievement and the resulting chorus of national pride, saying he would not be leaving the family home in Shanghai to pick his son up in Beijing on his return - or providing any special presents for his 23rd birthday today.
"That's too much trouble! I'll wait for him here, make him something nice to eat," he said.
"Isn't the world record the best present he could have?"