China's world and Olympic champion hurdler Liu Xiang said on Wednesday that he feels added pressure to win at the Beijing Games but expects to share the limelight with basketball star Yao Ming.
Liu acknowledged that a lot more attention is paid to him since his 2004 Olympic gold medal triumph in Athens.
"I feel like there's a lot more pressure than four years ago because people know me right now," Liu told Reuters through an interpreter from the 86th floor observation deck with New York's Wall Street skyline as his backdrop.
"They recognize me and call out my name. They expect me to win the gold medal so it's a lot more pressure."
Liu said Yao, who ranks with him as China's most popular sportsman, would share some of the home-country focus.
Yao, recovering from a foot injury that cut short his NBA season with the Houston Rockets, is on track to join China's team on the basketball court, Liu said.
"He's getting better and he's starting training and he should have no problem competing in the Olympics," Liu said.
Liu, the 110m world record holder, is making Saturday's Reebok Grand Prix in New York one of only two races he plans to have between now and the Olympics.
The 24-year-old Chinese said next month's Prefontaine Classic in Oregon would be his only other competitive race before the Games.
"I think that's enough," Liu said. "I think the most important thing is to have systematic training. My two races in the US are high-level races."
(Agencies via China Daily May 30, 2008)