China’s Olympic gold medal-winning hurdler Liu Xiang has announced his retirement due to a long-standing Achilles injury.
Liu won his country’s first Olympic men’s track and field gold medal in the 110 metres hurdles at Athens 2004, matching Briton Colin Jackson’s 11-year old world record with a time of 12.91sec, before going on to win the world title in Osaka three years later.
In 2006, he set a world record time of 12.88 at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Super Grand Prix in Lausanne.Liu said he now plans to complete his education and help strengthen China's influence on track and field around the world.
"I'm retiring,” said Liu in message posted to his microblog.
"I want to start a new journey.
"Though I still have hot blood pumping through my heart, my leg has time and again told me no."Despite his success at Athens 2004, Liu was unable to defend his title at Beijing 2008 after being forced to pull out of his first-round heat with a career-threatening Achilles injury.
Although he managed to return from a 13-month lay-off, further disappointment followed at London 2012, as he crashed out of the competition after stumbling on the first hurdle.
The 31-year-old from Shanghai initially trained as a high jumper before converting to hurdling.
As well as winning a hat-trick of Asian Games gold medals from 2002 to 2010, Liu also took top honours at the 2008 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Valencia.
His announcement makes him the third recently retired Chinese superstar athlete following the country’s first Grand Slam tennis champion Li Na in 2014, and the former NBA basketball centre Yao Ming in 2011.