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April 4, 2015

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Liu Xiang set to clear his final hurdle

CHINA’S star hurdler Liu Xiang will announce his retirement next week, according to his coach.

Sun Haiping told reporters that the 31-year-old former world and Olympic champion, who married Beijing actress Ge Tian last September, will break the news on his microblog on Tuesday.

“Liu Xiang can not keep on running any more,” he said. “The retirement is a decision we have to face up to.”

Liu’s last public appearance was on March 29 at the National Stadium in Beijing at a promotional event for the 2015 IAAF World Championships in August.

The Shanghai native has already said he is not going to compete in the championships at the Bird’s Nest stadium, scene of his heartbreaking withdrawal from the Beijing Olympics in 2008 with an aggravated Achilles tendon.

Sun said Liu had been eager to take part.

However, given his physical condition — he still is unable to train properly in spikes — Liu had to give up the plan, Sun said.

Following his Beijing disappointment, Liu had to pull out of the 2012 London Olympics due to a similar injury.

He crashed into the first hurdle during the 110m heats, rupturing the tendon.

But he didn’t give up, completing the race hopping on one foot, and kissing the last hurdle.

Surgery and 10 months of rehabilitation in the United States followed but the injury has continued to bother him and he has been unable to return to his peak form.

Liu won China’s first Olympic gold medal in track and field events at Athens in 2004 with a world record equaling time of 12.91 seconds.

Two years later, he set a world record of 12.88 seconds at the Super Grand Prix in Lausanne.

At the event to promote the world championships, being held in China for the first time, Liu said the nation had a batch of young talent in track and field.

A possible successor could be another Shanghai hurdler, Xie Wenjun.

The 24-year-old, who is also being coached by Sun, won the 110m hurdles at the 2014 IAAF Diamond League in Shanghai in 13.23 seconds to beat world champion David Oliver and former world champion and Liu’s long-term rival Dayron Robles.


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