Injured hurdles star Liu Xiang takes one more step in a long comeback today when he resumes track sessions in competition footwear, Shanghai media have reported.
Liu Xiang's right ankle injury forced him out of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games despite high hopes for a gold medal in his home country.
"From this Wednesday, Liu will run with spiked shoes," Liu's coach Sun Haiping was quoted as saying by Shanghai-based Oriental Sports Daily yesterday.
"But it doesn't mean he is completely recovered. We can't be in such a hurry at present and we won't put a large training burden on him."
Trying to comeback after foot surgery last December, Liu has undergone an intensive rehabilitation program, including walking in spiked shoes for more than a month.
According to the results of his latest physical check at the end of last month, Liu's long-awaited comeback still remains a mystery because his right Achilles tendon has not completely healed and doctors have advised him to take his time.
"Liu will take another physical check in August and we will decide whether he will participate in the Gold League in Shanghai in September," Sun added.
Since Liu's recovery is going smoothly, Sun confirmed that his star charge would be sure to race in the National Games in Shandong province in October.
"Liu will take part in the National Games in October and it will be a warm-up for the Asian Championships in November," Sun was quoted as saying by sports.cn.
The Asian Championships will be held on Nov 10 in Guangzhou. If everything goes as expected, it will be Liu's first international competition since the Olympics.
The humble champion spent his 26th birthday training on Monday after celebrating the occasion with his family two days earlier.
"As a family member, we just hope he can get through the difficulties," said his father Liu Xuegen. "The most important thing for us is his happiness and health. Our wish is for him to recover as soon as possible."
After a family dinner last Saturday, Liu also received blessings from his coach and teammates at their training base on Monday.
"Today is the first day of being 26 years old. I want to start from the very beginning like a primary school student starting first-grade study at school," Liu said. "I will take off again and I won't let everybody down."
(China Daily July 15, 2009)