Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang is suffering pain from an inflamed hamstring as he prepares to defend his Olympic title, according to a report posted on his official Web site Sunday.
Liu, 25, has been training in seclusion for weeks amid questions as to whether he’ll be fit for the 110-meter hurdles final, one of the Beijing games’ most highly anticipated events.
Liu has competed rarely this year and in June saw his world record fall to Cuba’s Dayron Robles. Reports of Liu’s sore hamstring have alarmed top Chinese media and sports officials, who are counting on the hurdler to bring home China’s sole athletics gold medal in the iconic Bird’s Nest national stadium.
Liu’s longtime coach, Sun Haiping, says he’s not worried about Liu performing in Monday’s heats, but needs him to be fully fit by Thursday’s finals showdown against Robles and a strong field of Americans.
“For the final, you need to go all out, and if the pain can’t effectively be eased, it will definitely have an effect,” Sun was quoted as saying in the report posted on http://liuxiang.sports.cn/.
Liu remains in good spirits and is working closely with team doctors and trainers to “adjust his condition,” the report said.
It said Liu experienced soreness after Saturday’s training, which included weights, some hurdling and treadmill work. Team doctors found an inflamed hamstring was the cause of the pain and recommended massage therapy and stretching to relax the muscle.
No training was scheduled for Sunday, which was left free for “relaxation activities,” the report said, without giving details.
Liu took first place at the world championships in Osaka, Japan, last year with a time of 12.95 seconds, but has yet to break 13 seconds this year or even turn in a top 10 performance.
Sun last week reported him as “very close to his best form,” but said his speed over the final hurdles was not what it should be. Nothing less than a time of 12.90 or under in the finals would suffice, Sun said.