First we heard that hurdler Liu Xiang (刘翔）would not likely recover from injury in time for world championships in August of this year, setting instead a target of returning for the Shanghai Grand Prix in September. Now, Team Liu seems to be prepping fans for the possibility that the one-time world record holder and former Olympic champion—whose failure to compete was China’s biggest disappointment last August—might soon hang up his spikes for good.
“If I get injured again, I will say goodbye to the sport,” Liu said to state newspaper China Daily. “I’m even considering what to do in the worst-case scenario (of getting injured again) so I don’t feel too much pressure.”
Why does an athlete start talking about his possible retirement more than six months ahead of his next scheduled competition? Because he knows he will never return to form, he’s planning to retire this year, and he’s trying to manage the unrealistic expectations of 1.3 billion people.
For our money, Liu will
break up with China announce his retirement some time this year, in what is sure to be one of the biggest sports stories in China in 2009 (though it will barely be a blip on the international sports radar).
Who will take up where Liu leaves off in the track and field event that China watches most closely? The People’s Daily says that Shi Dongpeng, China’s number two in the event with a personal best of 13.19 seconds, doesn’t have what it takes. And at 25, he is a little old to groom for the 2012 Olympics. Instead, the People’s Daily says eyes are on 21-year-old Yin Jing and 19-year-old Xie Wenjun.
For more Chinese sports news, go to China Sports Today.