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Sports star Liu in difficult period

STAR Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang is enduring a very hard period in his sports career - waiting patiently to recover properly after surgery on his heel.

The Shanghai native is able to do no more than simple training at his training base in Xinzhuang, in Shanghai's southwest, his coach Sun Haiping told today's Xinmin Evening News.

The coach was in Jiaxing City of east China's Zhejiang Province for the 2009 National Field and Track Championship over the weekend. Spectators to the 110-meter hurdles event dropped by half on the second day after learning Liu would not be appearing, according to organizer, the track and field department with the General Administration of Sports. To boost attendance, the organizer gave tickets away.

Liu, who took gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, is a former world champion and former world record holder in the men's 110-meter hurdles.

He underwent an operation to repair heel damage late last year in Houston, Texas after a damaged Achilles tendon had forced him to pull out of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He returned to Shanghai in early March.

Liu's recovery has not been as smooth as expected, Sun told the Xinmin Evening News.

The surface of the wound looked like soybean curd when the wound was looked at on March 10 after the surgery, he said. He blamed the doctors' adoption of a hasty rehabilitation program for the slow healing.

So far, one-third of the 2 to 3 centimeter wound has healed, Sun said.

He expects Liu to be 90 percent recovered in August.

If so, it is increasingly likely that Liu will return to the track in his hometown at the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix in September, Sun pointed out, adding that his goal for the games is a third gold medal.

Liu won the first two Shanghai Golden GPs in 2005 and 2006. He finished third in 2007 and did not take part in the 2008 event because of his injury.

A third gold medal will boost Liu's confidence for his performance at the 11th National Games in Shandong Province this October, Sun said.

But it all depends on Liu's recovery, particularly on an upcoming examination at Huashan Hospital at the end of the month, Sun said.

If that result is positive, Liu will be able to put on his shoes and start training sessions, he said.

"But whatever the result, we are doing our best," he said.

In response to media reports that Liu has already put on his shoes and begun training, Sun said this was a misunderstanding.

Liu had just put on his shoes to walk and recover the feeling of competition, he explained.

"It's just like a swimmer having to go back in the water to retrieve swimming skills after a long time out of water," he said.


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