China’s track & field star Liu ‘pre­par­ing’ to re­tire

The China Post - - SPORTS -

China’s great­est track and field ath­lete Liu Xiang is “pre­par­ing” to re­tire, his coach said, with re­ports Fri­day say­ing the Athens 2004 gold medal win­ner will de­clare his ca­reer over on Tues­day.

“Liu Xiang is in­deed pre­par­ing to an­nounce his re­tire­ment,” said Sun Haip­ing, the man who guided him to his 110m hur­dles suc­cess, in the news por­tal thep­a­per.cn.

While the 31-year-old’s re­tire­ment is widely ex­pected, it is cer­tain to be a highly-emo­tional af­fair given his huge pop­u­lar­ity in China.

The Shang­hai- born ath­lete has be­come loved for his heart­break­ing set­backs as well as his achieve­ments af­ter he burst onto the scene in Athens to claim China’s first men’s track and field gold.

Fol­low­ing that victory, Liu won the world ti­tle in 2007 and bore the heavy ex­pec­ta­tions of the world’s most pop­u­lous coun­try lead­ing up to the 2008 Olympic Games in Bei­jing.

But the de­fend­ing cham­pion limped out of his first heat at the Bird’s Nest sta­dium in­jured, shock­ing his home fans and re­duc­ing a TV pre­sen­ter to tears.

De­spite ap­pear­ing to hit a rich vein of form lead­ing up to Lon­don 2012, Liu clat­tered into the first hur­dle in his open­ing heat and af­ter be­ing helped up, he hopped the length of the track be­fore sym­bol­i­cally kiss­ing the last bar­rier and ex­it­ing the Olympic arena.

He has not raced com­pet­i­tively since.

The web­site of the Xin­min Evening News also said the an­nounce­ment would be made Tues­day, while other re­ports said Liu would break the news at his up­com­ing wed­ding.

AP

This Aug. 7, 2012 file photo shows China’s Liu Xiang, left, as he falls dur­ing a men’s 110-me­ter hur­dles heat dur­ing the ath­let­ics in the Olympic Sta­dium at the 2012 Sum­mer Olympics, Lon­don.

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