Liu Xiang

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Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang wins the gold medal in 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

Liu Xiang (刘翔) is a hurdler and China's first ever men's Olympic athletics champion. He announced retirement on April 7, 2015, over two years after pulling out of the Olympic Games for the second time. He held a retirement ceremony on May 17, 2015 on the sideline of the IAAF Diamond League Shanghai meet.

Liu crashed into the first barrier in the opening heat of the 110m hurdles in London on Aug. 7, 2012. In a poignant and brave gesture Liu picked himself up, and despite being injured, hopped to the last hurdle and kissed it. To the roar of the crowd Liu then embraced his waiting rivals who helped him from the track.

Liu's Olympic gold medal in 2004 has been the first in men's track and field event for China, or for any Asian countries. He is also the first Chinese athlete to achieve the "triple crown" of athletics: World Record Holder, World Champion and Olympic Champion.

Career

Born in July 1983 in Shanghai, Liu Xiang started high-jump training in 1993. He changed to hurdles training in 1998 and his coach is Sun Haiping.

Liu won the gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens in the 110m hurdles event, equaling Colin Jackson's 1993 world record of 12.91 seconds. Liu became just the sixth man to post a time under 13 seconds for this event.

Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang wins the gold medal in 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

Liu said that his performance, which brought China its first men's Olympic gold medal in track and field, "changes the opinion that Asian countries don't get good results in sprint races. I want to prove to all the world that Asians can run very fast." In his comments, Liu gave voice to his country's cultural stereotype, which judging from editorial comments in Chinese newspapers, he was not alone in believing. "I am a Chinese," he said, "and considering the physiology of the Chinese people, it is something unbelievable."

Liu set a new world record in the 110m hurdles, at the Super Grand Prix in Lausanne on July 11], 2006, with a time of 12.88 seconds (+1.1 m/s tailwind). The record was ratified by the IAAF.

On August 31, 2007, at the World Athletics Championships in Osaka, Japan, Liu won gold in the 110m hurdles with 12.95 seconds to become the World Champion for the first time.

Leading up to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, Liu bore national expectations of a repeat victory on home soil. China deemed another gold medal from Liu essential for a successful Olympics. On August 18, Liu withdrew from the Olympic 110m hurdles event. He walked off the track after a false start by another runner in his first-round heat, leaving the crowd at the Beijing National Stadium in stunned silence, confusion and tears.

Liu Xiang crashes into the first barrier in the opening heat of the 110m hurdles in London Olympics.

According to China's track and field association, Liu suffered from a recurrence of chronic inflammation in his right Achilles tendon. Liu made a public apology to the Chinese media the following day, saying he could "do nothing but pull out of the race" because of his foot injury. He made a vow to make a comeback for the next Olympics.

Liu underwent a foot surgery in December in 2008 at the Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center in Houston, and had four calcium deposits removed from his right Achilles tendon.

Liu Xiang stormed in 12.87 seconds of the 110 meters hurdles at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meeting on June 2, 2012 when a wind gust denied him a share of the world record.

Liu Xiang's s victory in Athens put him in the books as the first Asian man to win gold in track and field, a popular and influential sport around the world. China took 51 golds to top the tally in Beijing but lags behind the rest of the world on the track and regards Liu as a national treasure.

Awards

Liu Xiang crashes into the first barrier in the opening heat of the 110m hurdles in London Olympic Games. He picks himself up, and despite being injured, hops to the last hurdle and kisses it.

Liu Xiang's medal record

• Olympic Games

Gold 2004 Athens 110m hurdles

• World Championships

Gold 2007 Osaka 110m hurdles

Silver 2005 Helsinki 110m hurdles

Bronze 2003 Paris 110m hurdles

Silver 2011 Daegu 110 hurdles

• World Indoor Championships

Gold 2008 Valencia 60m hurdles

Silver 2004 Budapest 60m hurdles

Bronze 2003 Birmingham 60m hurdles

• Asian Games

Gold 2006 Doha 110m hurdles

Gold 2002 Busan 110m hurdles

Family

Liu Xiang and his ex-wife Ge Tian.

Liu Xiang got married with actress Ge Tian in September 2014. Liu said they fell in love in May 2014 and Liu's post of the couple leaning on a hurdle with the caption "My beloveds, her and it" triggered more than 22 million responses and views within a few hours.

Liu announced his retirement on May 17 in Shanghai. However, he did not mention his wife in his speech and Ge did not attend the event. After that, rumors said that the couple had separated. Liu and his wife declined to respond to the speculations.

On June 25, 2015, the former star hurdler announced his divorce with his actress wife through his micro blog.

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