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Athletics | International

Liu Xiang © Gallo Images

Liu Xiang out for season



Former Olympic hurdles champion Liu Xiang will miss the 2013 season because of his slow recovery from an Achilles injury.

Jos Hermens, the Chinese hurdler's manager, told The Associated Press on Thursday in a telephone interview that recovery from the injury that forced Liu to pull out of the London Olympics "is proceeding slowly, only very slowly."

Liu became one of China's best known sporting icons after he won the 110-metre hurdles title at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Since then, his right Achilles tendon has given him repeated trouble and he had to pull out of the 2008 Beijing Games and again in London last year.

"When we look at this year, there is no more chance for him to compete," Hermens said.

At 29, though, Liu still could have some good years ahead if he gets healthy again.

"He won't come back unless fully recovered," Hermens said.

For two Olympics in a row, Liu got to the opening heats of his race only to drop out with an Achilles injury when he was among the medal favourites.

After he ruptured his Achilles at the London Games, he immediately underwent an operation in England and soon left for the United States. Initially, rehab was expected to take several months but few doubted that he would be gearing up for the August 10-18 world championships in Moscow.

Achilles injuries are notoriously tough to heal and many sprinters never get back to their previous best. After Liu struggled to make the last two Olympics, Hermens said the Chinese officials would make sure he takes time now.

"They are playing it safe," Hermens said. "They are very careful not to take any risk."

Instead of Liu, the Chinese are now hoping for a breakthrough season from Xie Wenjun, who has had a good winter season highlighted by a third-place finish in the 60 hurdles at the Athletics Grand Prix in Birmingham, England.

Xie will face Olympic champion and world-record holder Aries Merritt at the Shanghai Diamond League meeting next month.



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