China’s “flying man” Liu Xiang ends dramatic career

 

 

 

File photo taken on August 27, 2004 shows Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang starting off in the men’s

110m hurdles final at the Athens Olympics in Athens, Greece. Liu Xiang won the gold medal of

the event.   Photo – Xinhua

 

File photo taken on August 27, 2004 shows Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang (center) running

in the men’s 110m hurdles final at the Athens Olympics in Athens, Greece. Liu Xiang won 

the gold medal of the event.   Photo – Xinhua

 

File photo taken on August 27, 2004 shows Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang celebrating with

Chinese national flag after winning the gold medal in the men’s 110m hurdles final

at the Athens Olympics in Athens, Greece.   Photo – Xinhua

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |    2015-04-07 22:55:08

 

China’s “flying man”

Liu Xiang

ends dramatic career

 

By Li Jia, Zhu Hong and Lu Yuchen

 

 

China’s Liu Xiang kisses a hurdle after men’s 110m hurdles heat at London 2012 Olympic Games,

London, Britain, on August 7, 2012. Liu Xiang tumbled and was disqualified for semifinal.

Photo by Yang Lei

 

 

China’s “flying man” Liu Xiang announced his retirement on Tuesday of April 7, ending his 19-year dramatic career.

As China’s first male Olympic champion on athletics, he waved farewell to millions of fans on weibo, a Chinese equivalent to Twitter.

“Farewell, my track, my hurdles,” Liu said. “It’s a hard decision, but I have no other choice.”

“Liu is an icon and a leader of Chinese athletics,” said Du Zhaocai, vice president of Chinese Athletics Association. “He achieved some great results and experienced some difficult time. We understand his decision and respect his choice.”

The best known athletics Olympic champion in China was also a two-time quitter at the Olympic Games. He stunned the world twice at two consecutive Olympic Games with almost the same reason — ruptured Achilles tendon.

“I love the track, but I hate my foot,” Liu said on weibo. “I have to accept it. I decide to leave and start a new life.”

Liu’s retirement was not that surprising as he had never come back on the track after he limped out of the course from the London Games.

Fans had expected Liu to return to the track at the Beijing world championships this August, but Liu just put an end to the expectation.

It was the last time for Liu to compete at the “Bird’s Nest” when he lamed off in a 110m hurdles heat at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Four months later, he underwent a foot surgery in the United States and had four calcium deposits removed from his right foot, which ruled him out of the 2009 world championships.

At that time, fans expected him to come back as a hero. Liu did come back.

After a 13-month absence, Liu returned to competition at the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix 2009 where he finished second. Then he demonstrated his full return to form at the Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010, winning the gold medal in 13.09 seconds — making him the third fastest hurdler that season.

The “flying man” was unlucky at the 2011 Dague world championships. He could have repeated his title-winning feat in Osaka 2007, but the hand contact with Dayron Robles of Cuba disrupted his rhythm. Liu at last settled with a silver.

Liu went to the London Olympic Games as a hot favorite. However, the superstar shocked the world again in a similar way.

He crashed into the first hurdle in the heat and injured the same foot again. The only difference was that Liu hopped over the rest of the distance on his left foot to symbolically finish his race and kissed a hurdle.

Liu insists that taking part in London Olympics was his own decision. “I did it for myself as an athlete. I knew that my foot might be hurt, but I didn’t think about it much at that time,” he said. “Some people thought my fall was pretending. How could that be possible?”

He was taken to hospital and underwent a surgery in London. Since then Liu has not been in any competition.

As expected, Liu’s retirement, though kept as low key as possible, still received huge attention. No one could deny Liu’s achievement.

The Shanghai native started hurdling at 13, and joined the national team in 1999.

Liu won his first world title at the 2001 Universiade, and it was also China’s first track and field gold in Universiade.

Liu made the history to win the 110m hurdles at the 2004 Athens Games, equalling Briton Colin Jackson’s world record of 12.91 seconds.

He shattered the world record when he clocked 12.88 seconds at an IAAF meet in Lausanne in 2006, and he won the world champion in Osaka 2007 to become the first male hurdler to own Olympic and world titles and the world record at the same time.

Even after the tragic injury at Beijing Olympic Games, Liu managed to be back on his top form with a strong will.

In February 2015, Liu’s coach Sun Haiping said: “Liu Xiang had his first try on wearing track shoes (since London Olympics) in December last year, but his Archilles tendon reacted negatively and we had to give up (seeking return).”

According to Liu’s team doctor, Liu can manage only 13.50 seconds if he returns, which can not guarantee his qualification for top races.

Taling about his plan after the retirement, Liu said,”I will finish my study, but I will not leave track and field.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |   2015-04-07 17:53:58

 

Liu Xiang retires,

haunted by twice Olympic withdrawal

 

By Zhang Rongfeng

 

 

Liu Xiang, China’s first ever men’s Olympic athletics champion, announced retirement on Tuesday of April 7, over two years after pulling out of the Olympic Games for the second time.

Chinese couldn’t help comparing Liu Xiang with Li Na, a twice grand slam winner of tennis, who retired last September.

A blogger named “sorry, I’m not a good guy” seems annoyed by Liu Xiang’s belated retirement, posting: “When Li Na feels she can’t play in shape, she retires. She isn’t like Liu Xiang — setting off a couple of steps and then saying I can’t run for I’m not feeling good.”

Liu pulled out of Beijing Olympics in agony, claiming an Archilles tendon injury. Four years later in London Olympics, Liu Xiang quit again citing similar foot problem.

Liu Xiang didn’t run any races for more than 900 days since London Olympics.

Another blogger named “Athena” said Liu Xiang remained as “an active athlete only for money.”

Reports said that Liu Xiang’s announcement was perfectly timed. He received a batch of commercial sponsorships right after Athens Olympics, with all of them expiring at the end of last year. If he had retired earlier, Liu would have been penalized, according to media reports.

Quite a few people remain loyal to the hurdler. “Don’t throw mud at Liu Xiang. He is a hero. He is the one and only in Chinese sports,” said a blogger named “Crazy”.

Liu Xiang’s coach Sun Haiping defended his retirement arrangement. “We have been observing him for a long time. We have to make sure his foot injury can’t stand any more Olympic competition.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese hurdlist Liu Xiang won his third straight Asian Games title as he clocked an impressive

time of 13.09 seconds in the men’s 110m hurdles on November 24, 2010. The combo picture

(left to right) shows Liu Xiang competing to win the champion of the 110m hurdles at 14th Asian

Games in Busan, South Korea, on October 9, 2002; Liu Xiang standing on the awarding podium

after winning the gold at 15th Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, on December 12, 2006; Liu Xiang

jubilating for his third Asian Games titles at 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, south China,

on November 24, 2010.   Photo – Xinhua

 

China’s Liu Xiang falls after hitting a hurdle in his men’s 110m hurdles round 1 heat during

the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 7, 2012.   Photo by Mark Blinch

 

China’s Liu Xiang leaves the venue assisted by athletes after men’s 110m hurdles heat at London

2012 Olympic Games, London, Britain, on August 7, 2012. Liu Xiang tumbled and was disqualified

for semifinal.   Photo by Yang Lei

 

 

 

BEIJING  |  2015-04-07 22:52:49

 

Liu Xiang retires

as tragic hero

 

 

By Ma Xiangfei, Li Jia and Wei Hua

 

 

He was a great champion. He was a tragic hero.

No matter how dramatic his career has been, Olympic champion and former world record holder Liu Xiang decided to retire and end his 19-year career as a hurdler.

It came as no surprise when China’s best known track and field athlete announced his retirement on Tuesday of April 7 after more than two years of rehabilitation from an ankle surgery.

The 31-year-old never stepped back on the track after he pulled his Achilles tendon attempting to clear the first hurdle in the heats at the 2012 London Olympics.

Liu then underwent a surgery to repair his fragile Achilles tendon and got married. He showed up at various public activities and rejected the possibility to compete in the World Championships in August in Beijing, all signs pointing to an imminent retirement.

Liu tried to keep the farewell as low-key as possible, choosing an uneventful date to wave goodbye to millions of fans on weibo, a Chinese equivalent to Twitter.

“My track, my hurdles, you have been in my company for 19 years. We first met when I was 13 years old,” said Liu. “I returned in the London Olympics because I don’t want to be called a coward, a quitter.”

Fans are calm to Liu’s retirement. “It’s time to retire. Actually, it should have come a little bit earlier for we have not seen you race for quite a long time,” said a follower on Liu Xiang’s weibo account.

Despite two disappointing withdrawals from the Olympics, including the one in Beijing, Liu is arguably the greatest athlete in China’s athletics history and one of the best in the world’s 110m hurdles.

One supporter said on his account: “Liu Xiang competed in 48 major national and international races, winning 36 golds, but a lot of people just remember the two-time withdrawals, the only flaws. No matter what, we are proud of you.”

The Shanghai native shot to fame when he won the 110 meters hurdles at the 2004 Athens Olympics, equalling Briton Colin Jackson’s world record of 12.91 seconds.

Liu bettered the world record to 12.88 seconds in Lausanne, Switzerland in July 2006. And one year later, he won a world championship gold in Osaka, Japan to become the first male hurdler to own Olympic and world titles and the world record at the same time.

While Liu was conquering the 110m hurdles across the world, the shadow of injury crawled in and cost him dearly in his home Olympic Games in 2008.

In the first round heat in Beijing, Liu limped off the track with an aggravated Achilles tendon injury to the astonishment of a capacity Bird’s Nest.

Four months later, he underwent a surgery in the United States and had four calcium deposits removed from his right foot.

Four years later, Liu’s fate mysteriously repeated in a bad way. In London Olympics, Liu hopped on one foot to the finish line, kissed the hurdle and was wheelchaired off the track.

Just as his first withdrawal in Beijing, Liu, his team as well as the Chinese Athletics Association, were bombarded for concealing his injury.

And at the same time, many already felt that this could be Liu’s last stop of his career.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Viewhttp://weibo.com/p/1004065543153302/home?from=page_100406&mod=TAB#place

http://weibo.com/p/1001603829037893075007

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |  2015-04-07 17:10:08

 

Chinese Olympic champion

Liu Xiang retires

 

By Zhang Rongfeng

 

 

China’s 110m hurdles Olympic champion Liu Xiang announced his retirement on Tuesday of April 7 on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.

Liu became China’s first male Olympic champion in athletics when he won the 110m hurdles at the 2004 Games, equalling Briton Colin Jackson’s world record of 12.91 seconds. Three years later he won a world championship gold in Osaka, Japan.

Liu bettered the world record to 12.88 seconds in Lausanne, Switzerland in July 2006. Aries Merritt of the United States is current world record holder in 12.80.

At the 2008 Beijing Games, Liu limped off in a first-round heat with an aggravated Achilles tendon injury following another runner’s false start.

Four year later at London Olympics, Liu Xiang pulled out of competition again for a similar claimed reason.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LONDON  |   2015-04-07 23:34:04

 

Diack: Athletics world

to miss Liu Xiang

 

By Wang Zijiang

 

 

IAAF President Lamine Diack said on Tuesday of April 7 that the athletics world will miss Chinese star hurdler Liu Xiang after his long-awaited retirement.

“We are happy to have him,” said the 83-year-old Diack. “He has made great contributions to his country and our sport. The sport will miss him.”

Diack, who has been the IAAF chief since 1999 but will retire before the Beijing World Championships in August, spoke highly of Liu’s achievement.

“He is a great champion. He has pushed forward the sport of athletics in China,” he said. “On behalf of IAAF, I wish him a successful life after retirement.”

Liu became China’s first male Olympic champion in athletics when he won the 110m hurdles at the 2004 Games, equalling Briton Colin Jackson’s world record of 12.91 seconds. Three years later he won a world championship gold in Osaka, Japan.

Liu bettered the world record to 12.88 seconds in Lausanne, Switzerland in July 2006. Aries Merritt of the United States is current world record holder in 12.80.

At the 2008 Beijing Games, Liu limped off in a first-round heat with an aggravated Achilles tendon injury following another runner’s false start.

Four year later at London Olympics, Liu Xiang pulled out of competition again for a similarly claimed reason.

Gianni Merlo, President of AIPS, the World Association of Sports Journalists, also praised Liu as a successful athlete and a nice man.

“Liu Xiang is a champion who has opened a chapter even in the history of your country, because he was able to jump also over all the boundaries of sport and politics,” Merlo told Xinhua in a written message.

“He is a very nice guy and it was always and it will be also in the future to meet and speak with him. He is able to speak also with body language when the English is not sufficient.

“He has an open mind and I think that it is very good as role model for the young generation.

“The drama in Beijing Olympics is part of the human history of the Chinese and world sport.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RIO DE JANEIRO  |  2015-04-08 05:37:09

 

Organizers welcome Liu Xiang

to join in Rio Olympics as a fan

 

By Ji Ye

 

 

The organizers of the 2016 Olympic Games welcomed Liu Xiang to come to Rio de Janeiro and to enjoy the Games as a fan after the Chinese Olympic hurdles gold medalist announced retirement on Tuesday of April 7.

“Rio Olympics will be very sad not to have Liu Xiang as an athlete,” Mario Andrada, Rio 2016 director of communications, told Xinhua through telephone.

“We just hope that he can come and visit us. Enjoy Rio and enjoy the Games even if he comes as a fan. Even as a fan, he is someone that we cannot miss.”

Liu became China’s first male Olympic champion in athletics when he won the 110m hurdles at the 2004 Games, equalling Briton Colin Jackson’s world record of 12.91 seconds. Three years later he won a world championship gold in Osaka, Japan.

Liu bettered the world record to 12.88 seconds in Lausanne, Switzerland in July 2006. Aries Merritt of the United States is current world record holder in 12.80.

At the 2008 Beijing Games, Liu limped off in a first-round heat with an aggravated Achilles tendon injury following another runner ‘s false start.

Four year later at London Olympics, Liu Xiang pulled out of competition again for a similar claimed reason.

“Liu’s retirement is a huge loss for the sport. He is one of the greatest athletes of his times and the symbol of his fans and his country,” Andrada said.

“Besides Liu, China still has plenty of stars at the Olympic platform. Take the dominance of their badminton and table tennis teams for example. I’m sure that China will have a good performance during the Games.”

As the first Olympic Games in South America, the Rio Olympic Games will be held between August 5 and 21 next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |  2015-04-06 10:56:29

 

Why hurdler Liu Xiang

choose to retire now?

 

By Zhang Rongfeng

 

 

China’s Olympic 110m hurdles gold medallist and former world record holder Liu Xiang is to announce his retirement on Tuesday of April 7. Why Liu Xiang decides to retire now, who actually has not competed since his withdrawal from the London Olympics.

It’s already over 900 days since Liu Xiang pulled out of the London Games 110m hurdles. No fans believe he will return to action again as he is 32 years old and is away from races so long, but what makes this much anticipated retirement prolonged?

On February, his coach Sun Haiping said: “Liu Xiang has his first try on wearing track shoes (since London Olympics) on December last year, but his Archilles tendon reacted negatively and we have to give up (seeking return).”

“We will see what his physical condition will be when the climate turns warm. At that time, I think we have to make the final decision (to be back or to retire),” added Sun, implying the consideration of Liu’s retirement.

According to Liu Xiang’s team doctor, Liu Xiang can manage only 13.50 seconds if he returns, which can not guarantee his qualification for top races.

It’s time to announce retirement also because it’s time for a batch of Liu Xiang’s commercial sponsorships expire.

Liu Xiang has a total of 17 sponsor contracts at the same time when he’s in his career peak after winning the 110m hurdles Olympic champion at Athens 2004. The accumulative value from those sponsors is estimated worthy of 1 billion yuan RMB (160 million dollars). As long as these sponsors last, Liu Xiang would rather to stay on as an active athlete than a retiree.

The retirement date selection even comes for a purpose. A sponsor for Liu Xiang has bought a whole page on an influential sports printed media for promotion on April 8. In this sponsor’s scheme, the commercial impact imaged Liu Xiang would be a big hit on April 8 if Liu Xiang gives retiring announcement on April 7.

Liu became China’s first male Olympic champion in athletics when he won the 110m hurdles at the 2004 Games, equalling Briton Colin Jackson’s world record of 12.91 seconds. Three years later he won a world championship gold in Osaka, Japan.

Liu bettered the world record to 12.88 seconds in Lausanne, Switzerland in July 2006. Aries Merritt of the United States is current world record holder in 12.80.

At the 2008 Beijing Games, Liu limped off in a first-round heat with an aggravated Achilles tendon injury following another runner’s false start.

Four year later at London Olympics, Liu Xiang pulled out the competition again for a similar claimed reason.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BLOG EDITOR:  MIAO HONG

 

 

 

 

 

 

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