Chinese hurdler Liu still needs time to recover, says coach

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Liu Xiang, China's 110m-hurdle world champion and Olympic gold medal winner clears a hurdle during a training session in Shanghai, east China, on June 30, 2009. As Sun Haiping, Liu's coach said during today's press conference, the hurdler is recovering well from his ankle injury but he is not a hundred percent fit for competition. The former 110m hurdles record holder pulled out of the Beijing Olympics last year due to an injury and has since not been in competition.

SHANGHAI, June 30 -- Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang will have to postpone his long coveted comeback due to the lingering injury in his right ankle, Liu's head coach Sun Haiping confirmed on Tuesday.

The news came as a big relief for Liu's fans after earlier rumors of his possible retirement.

"We feel satisfied about Liu's recovery and the medical check revealed that his tendon is getting better but it's not enough yet. He still needs time before coming back to competition," said Sun.

Liu, a surprise package winning 110m hurdles in 2004 Athens Games, has been in training since he returned to Shanghai in March after three months in the United States, where he underwent surgery on his right ankle tendon in December.

His right ankle injury forced him out of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games despite high hopes for a gold medal in his home country, and Chinese fans now are eager to watch him race again.

"There's really no need to rush. It is immature for him to run in competitions at this moment. We can count Liu in when he is fully ready. If he injures his leg again, it will certainly end his career once and for all," Sun said, "He's never thought about retirement."

Liu is shortlisted in the Chinese team for the world athletics championship in August, but now he is unlikely to make it.