World 110m hurdles record holder Liu Xiang is training hard for the IAAF Japan Grand Prix this weekend but admits his plethora of sponsor obligations is taking its toll.
The 23-year-old has been a national hero since he won China's first ever men's Olympic track gold in Athens in 2004 and then smashed the world record last year.
It has also earned him millions of dollars from commercial endorsements, but the wealth comes at a price and Liu admits that he is being sidetracked.
"I am looking for another win (in Japan) to make it my fourth consecutive championship," Liu told the
of the Grand Prix in Osaka on Saturday, at the stadium that will host the world championships in August.
"The race is very important to me. And I want to perform well before the world championships, so my aim is to be in good form by then," he added while complaining about having to fit television work into his schedule.
"They (commercials) affect my training regime."
"Maybe making commercials is not as intense as training, but it's always taking longer than I expect. I don't think I could become an actor. It is torturous."
Liu was scheduled to train three or four times this week at his usual base in Shanghai, but coach Sun Haiping told him to rest instead.
"Although Liu will be training less, it is much more effective," Sun was quoted as saying. "He runs better than my expectations."
A total of seven Olympic and nine world medallists will take part in Osaka event, the third leg of the 13-round IAAF Grand Prix series, although a key rival of Liu's, Cuba's Dayron Robles, will not be competing.