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Liu Xiang needs to work harder to win back fans

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, November 25, 2010
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Despite an impressive time of 13.09 seconds in his comeback race and an Asian Games treble, former Olympic champion Liu Xiang still faces a daunting task to win back the fans he lost in the 2008 Olympic Games.

The 2004 Olympic winner attracted a capacity crowd in the Guangdong Olympic Center stadium and millions of TV audience Wednesday night when he stormed to a new Asian record in the men's 110m hurdles as well as his third straight Asian Games gold.

His comeback drew loads of praises from both Chinese media and fans.

"The Asian Games 110m hurdles final witnessed the comeback of a king, whose name is Liu Xiang," exclaimed Xinmin Evening News, a newspaper based in Shanghai where the hurdler was born.

"Liu Xiang made a big step forward after 27 months of accumulation of energy," said China News Agency. "Guangzhou is the place for Liu to take off again."

Applauded as he is, Liu has yet to win back all his fans since his stunning withdrawal from the first round in the Beijing Olympic Games disheartened the whole nation.

"Even if you won this race in a clocking of one second, you are no longer my hero. Perhaps you should have finished the Beijing Olympic race no matter what would happen," an Internet user named "Gone with the Wind" commented on Liu's victory here in a forum of Chinese portal Sina.

"Gone with the Wind" was perhaps one of the many tearful fans who are still smart from the deep disappointment and hurt feelings after their high hopes on Liu Xiang went into nothing - without any warning.

Liu, the first Chinese man to win an Olympic sprint event, failed to start his defending campaign in the Beijing Olympic Games, limping off the track before 100,000 spectators in the Bird's Nest national stadium and millions more hopeful Chinese before TV. People rarely knew at that time that Liu had already been bothered by an Achilles' tendon problem for some time before the 2008 Games kicked off.

After the Beijing Olympics, Liu almost faded out of the sight of the general public, focusing on his surgery in the United States and rehabilitation.

Just when people are wondering about Liu's future, he came back in his old style, confident and vigorous.

The full house of the stadium on Wednesday night and reportedly 600 million TV audience proved that Liu is still the single most attraction of the Chinese sports.

For Liu, the best way to earn back full support of the Chinese fans is to go back to the top.

"I will keep tuning up until I go back to the Olympic podium or create a new world record," said the 27-year-old whose 12.88 world mark was shaved off one hundredth of a second by Cuban Dayron Robles in 2008.

In both the good and bad time, Liu says, his fans' support remains the main morale booster.

"I have been in ups and downs and many people kept cheering me up and encouraging me," he said. "With all your support, I will be best motivated."

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