Star hurdler Liu delays comeback plans to June

Sun Haiping (L), the coach of Chinese 110m hurdle star Liu Xiang works on Liu's foot prior to a training session in Shanghai, east China, March 10, 2009. Liu started his first training class Tuesday, following his coming back to China on Monday after a successful foot surgery and three-month rehabilitation in the United States.

BEIJING, March 17 -- Liu Xiang is delaying his comeback plans by a month after a trip to Shanghai's Huashan Hospital last week.

Liu's coach Sun Haiping had earlier said the Chinese hurdler was hoping to be back on track in May but it has been pushed back to June now. Liu had some light workouts early last week.

The Athens Olympic gold medal winner returned to Shanghai last week after a three-month rehabilitation in the United States where he underwent a foot surgery.

Liu stunned his fans in August when he limped out of the starting blocks during the heats at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.

He underwent surgery for Achilles' tendon on his right foot in Houston on December 5.

Sun told the Shanghai Morning Post yesterday that the star hurdler, who became the nation's darling after becoming the first Chinese athlete to win a men's track and field gold medal at the Olympics, will stick to the rehabilitation plan worked out by Dr. Thomas Clanton.

Dr. Clanton performed the surgery on Liu at the Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center in December.

Doctors removed four small pieces of bone from Liu's right foot during an hour-long operation which is the athlete's first. The injury occurred over time, resulting in microscopic tearing of the tendon's fibers, which caused the bleeding.

Sun said Liu will not go through intensive trainings sessions immediately and will revise his workouts as per advise from the US doctors.

The coach also told the local newspaper that the 26-year-old hurdler will be kept away from the media glare.

China's top sports body, the General Administration of Sports, has also advised its staff to shun any talk over Liu's future, the report claimed.

Dr. Clanton, who also operated on NBA All-Star Yao Ming for a stress fracture in his left foot early last year, said Liu would recover fully in six months and will be ready to compete, and at the same level as before his injury.

Source: Shanghai Daily