China's champion hurdler Liu Xiang 'preparing' to retire, says coach
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 burst onto the scene in Athens to claim China's first men's track and field gold.Updated: Apr 03, 2015 15:31 IST
China's greatest track and field athlete Liu Xiang is "preparing" to retire, his coach said, with reports on 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 heart-breaking 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.