SHANGHAI, February 26 – Chinese star hurdler Liu Xiang said he would retire if he suffers another serious injury like the one that forced him to withdraw from the Beijing Olympics, state media reported Thursday.
"If I get injured again, I will say goodbye to the sport," the 26-year-old Shanghai native said in comments published in the China Daily newspaper.
Liu is now recovering in the United States after an operation in December to repair an Achilles tendon injury that forced him to dramatically withdraw from the Olympics in August.
Millions of Chinese fans are hoping Liu can recover soon and match previous accomplishments such as his gold medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics, but the hurdler said he was prepared for the worst-case scenario.
"At least I can live life as a normal person," Liu was quoted as saying. "Even if I had not suffered this (Achilles) injury, I planned on retiring around 30… it’s impossible to be an athlete for your whole life."
Liu’s coach, Sun Haiping, has repeatedly said Liu would not compete in this year’s world championships in Berlin in August despite his faster than expected recovery from surgery.
"Right now, he is 60-70 percent recovered… the most difficult step is the last 10 percent. It requires high-intensity movement, power and speed," Sun was quoted as saying.
The coach said he was taking a wait-and-see approach when it came to Liu’s progress, and also expressed concerns about whether Liu could break through the necessary mental barriers to realise a comeback.
"I’m afraid even if he is fit physically, he will be distracted by the fear of getting injured again. It takes some time to overcome," Sun said.