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Hurdler Liu well on road to recovery, says coach

CHINESE hurdler Liu Xiang is expected to return to Shanghai as early as next month as his recovery from the foot injury that forced him out of the Beijing Olympics has been much better than expected, according to his coach.

Sun Haiping, the coach of the star hurdler, landed in the United States yesterday with two sandbags and two special rubber bands to help the athlete, who is undergoing rehabilitation there, hasten his recovery training.

The sandbags and bands will be used to step up strength training of Liu's legs, Sun revealed.

Liu, the 2004 Olympic champion and former world-record holder in the 110-meter hurdles, hopefully will be able to wear his spike shoes again next month, Sun said.

The most successful Chinese sprinter now has only two chairs at his rental apartment as tools for some basic strength training, Shanghai Oriental Morning Posted cited Sun as saying.

The 26-year-old Shanghai native started jogging on the treadmill last week, nearly two months after undergoing ankle surgery at Houston's Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center on December 5.

Doctors removed four small pieces of bone from the Achilles' tendon of his right foot during the hour-long operation, Liu's first.

The injury happened over a period of time, resulting in microscopic tearing of the tendon's fibers, which caused bleeding. The process produced calcium and resulted in the bone pieces forming within the tendon, according to Dr. Thomas Clanton, who performed the operation.

Clanton also operated on NBA all-star Yao Ming for a stress fracture in his left foot earlier last year.

Clanton said Liu would recover fully in six months and could compete again at the level he was before his injury.

However, Sun said he could not predict whether Liu would be able to be back to competitive form in time for the August 15-23 world championships.

"The tendon was a key part in his running and I will not be sure of his fully recovered until he gets on his spikes and hits the track again."


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