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Inside Liu Xiang's rice bowl

Liu Xiang 刘翔 [ File photo ]

With 2012 London Olympics approaching, the 396 athletes of the Chinese Olympic team are in the spotlight. Many people have paid particular attention to the menu of the athletes, especially Chinese star hurdler, Liu Xiang.

At his training base in Xinzhuang, in southwest Shanghai, Liu Xiang has his own "champion canteen". For athletes, what and how to eat actually is not a simple nutrition issue, because eating out could cause an accidental intake of illegal drugs contained in the food, which could lead to doping accusations during the games.

Special chefs have been put in charge of Liu Xiang's diet. Besides considering Liu Xiang's personal tastes and eating habits, the chefs must ensure foods offered to him are safe and healthy.

According to the regulations of the Shanghai Sports Bureau, meat offered to athletes must first be sent to Beijing for testing. Everyone at the bureau takes food safety as the top priority.

In the cafeteria at Liu's training base, the hurdler has his own dining table. Generally, once he arrives at the cafeteria, the chef will prepare five to six dishes for him, which generally arrive five minutes later. Staff on duty inform the chef to prep for Liu's meals in advance.

One day in the middle of June, the outside air temperature was 33 degrees. Liu Xiang came to the cafeteria in a sweat at 11:30 a.m. after his training program. Once he took his seat after washing his face, one dish had already been served. One chef, who was preparing fried beef steak for other athletes, immediately stopped his work and started to cook a different steak in another pan, once he heard that Liu Xiang was coming.

The chef said all the beef prepared for Liu is imported from overseas. Before being cooked, the meat is sent to Beijing where it is inspected for safety and quality.

According to chefs at the training base, the milk Liu Xiang drinks was finally chosen after he evaluated dozens of imported and domestic milk brands, amounting to thousands of individual tastings.

Liu also eats seafood and organic vegetables, he said, but he doesn't eat pork, as the fat content is too high. In order to win the men's 110 m hurdle competition, he needs to reduce his body fat as much as possible to allow all muscles to play a good role to the greatest extent.

"Liu Xiang is always polite to all of the staff in cafeteria," his chef said emotionally, "He eats all of foods that I prepare, without any complaints or any special offers. He is worthy of being called a 'star athlete'."

(China.org.cn by Ma Yujia July 23, 2012)











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