Liu Xiang warms up at the Shanghai Xinzhuang training base on Saturday before his latest physical check with U.S. doctor Tom Clanton. (Photo: Chinadaily.com.cn)
BEIJING, Dec. 7 -- China's star hurdler, Liu Xiang. has been given a clean bill of health following his latest check-up on Saturday.
A year after Liu had surgery on his right Achilles tendon in Houston, his U.S. doctor, Tom Clanton, arrived Shanghai on Friday to check on his star patient. After reviewing scans of Liu's foot and watching him train on Saturday, Clanton, who performed the operation on Liu, said the foot had fully recovered and he could resume intensive training.
"Today is very special, after the ups and downs of the past year, this means a lot to us," said Liu's coach, Sun Haiping, after Clanton's verdict on Saturday. "When we decided on surgery we said 'we will be sure to come back' and today I can finally say, 'Liu is back!'."
The severe foot injury forced the former Olympic and world champion to pull out of the first round of the men's 110m hurdles at the Beijing Games in August last year. Since then, Liu, China's biggest track and field star, had faced doubts about his ability to return to top-flight athletics.
After more than a year of quiet rehabilitation, Liu returned to the spotlight in his hometown of Shanghai in September at the Golden Grand Prix. He finished in a surprising time of 13.15 seconds and was only narrowly beaten by world No 2 Terrence Trammell of the U.S. Although the time was slower than his former world record of 12.88 seconds, it was enough to give Liu a big confidence boost.
A month later, he clocked 13.34 to win his third China Games title and continued his good form at the Asian Championships last month with a victory in 13.50.
"The past year has been very tiring, both physically and psychologically," Liu said, "I made a lot of effort to conquer it (the injury) and now I am very happy to say I have beaten it.
"I won't think too much about the future but I hope to do well, step by step. I still have some years left to strive for good results. I am confident I can still do better."
Coach Sun remains concerned about the foot and says caution is still the most important thing.
"The scan showed his Achilles tendon has recovered very well but there are still shadows there so we can't say he is 100 percent," Sun said. "For normal people, Liu's foot is recovering well enough but for athletes it is a different story. The result of Clanton's check is an important factor in our training plans but it doesn't mean we have no worries at all. We still have to intensify training gradually."
Liu's schedule includes the on-going East Asian Games in Hong Kong, which will be his last competition before indoor winter training. His first international race next year will be the World Indoor Championships in Doha next March.
"Liu will undergo intensive training during the winter and his outdoor races next year may all be in Asia. I don't expect his results to improve much; I just want him to get used to the atmosphere of international competitions again. The (Olympic) year 2012 is the most important one for us," he said.
(Source: China Daily)