Liu Xiang confirms decision to retire

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Liu clears the final hurdle on his way to gold in the 110m hurdles as France's Ladji Doucoure hits the last obstacle in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, Aug 27, 2004. Liu won in a world record-equaling time of 12.91 sec, matching the feat of Colin Jackson, who ran 12.91 sec in Stuttgart, Germany, in August 1993. He was China's first men's Olympic gold medal winner in track and field. (Photo by Xu Jingxing/China Daily)


China's star hurdler Liu Xiang announced his retirement yesterday, ending a dramatic 19-year career that took him to the top of the world in his chosen track and field event.

In a letter to fans on his Weibo account he wrote: "It's a hard decision, but I have no other choice."

Liu, a former world and Olympic champion, has never fully recovered from injury that saw him withdraw from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and limp off the track at the Games in London four years later.

Fans had expected a return at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in August but the 31-year-old Shanghai native said he was not going to compete in the championships at the Bird's Nest stadium, scene of his exit from the Beijing Olympics with an aggravated Achilles tendon.

"I love the track, but I hate my foot," Liu wrote. "Despite all the pain and reluctance, I have no other choice. I have kept training in the past two years, carrying the hope of starting everything again. However, despite all the passion I have, my foot has been continuously denying me as it can no longer bear the pressure."

Du Zhaocai, vice president of the Chinese Athletics Association, told Xinhua news agency: "Liu is an icon and a leader of Chinese athletics. He achieved some great results and experienced some difficult times. We understand his decision and respect his choice."

Liu told his fans: "With all the glories, I did not take my injury seriously but worked on improving speed and worsened the injury. Till the day I was forced to withdraw from the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, that's a moment I don't want to think of again."

He said the understanding he was shown after his failure in Beijing motivated him to return to training after surgery in the United States.

However, his injury relapsed right before the 2012 London Games.

"I knew I didn't have much chance when I stepped onto the Olympic track again bearing the pain, but I also wanted to win one fight back for myself, so as not to let others consider me as a deserter. I had tried my best," he said.

Liu thanked his coaching team, friends and fans for their support.

"I will go on to complete my studies after the retirement, and do something good to the development of China's youth sport, and to help enhance the impact of China's athletics on the international stage."

Liu, whose nickname is "the flying man," added: "Sport is my dream. No matter how many difficulties I have encountered, I'm not able to leave it all my life. I'll take with me all the precious experience collected over the years and fly again!"

Shanghai Sports Bureau said it understood and respected Liu's decision and thanked him for his contribution to sport in the city.

"Liu Xiang is Shanghai's hero and an idol for young people," it said.

Liu started hurdling at 13, and joined the national team in 1999.

He won his first world title at the 2001 Universiade, China's first track and field gold at the event.

Liu made the history when he won 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 event in Lausanne in 2006, and won the world championships in Osaka in 2007 to become the first male hurdler to hold Olympic and world titles and the world record at the same time.

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