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Coach: Liu Xiang may need psychological help

29 October 2008

World 110m hurdles champion Liu Xiang may need psychological help to deal with the memory of his dramatic exit from the Beijing Olympics, according to China's head athletics coach.


The former world record holder was scheduled to depart for the United States on Wednesday to consult with doctors over the injury that robbed him of the chance to defend his Olympic title on home soil.


Liu, China's only realistic hope of a gold in athletics at the Beijing Games, hobbled out of the Bird's Nest after an Achilles problem left him incapable of getting into the starting blocks for his opening heat on Aug. 18.


"Liu Xiang's problem is not only the Achilles heel but also the shadow over his mind," Feng told the China Youth Daily.


"It's been around 70 days since his Olympic exit. Liu appears to be relaxed and doing fine but in fact, the Olympics had a huge psychological impact on him.


"His coach, the family and his friends have been giving him guidance and that helps. However, we have been dealing with athletes for many years and we know how they think and we will get him a psychologist if necessary."


Liu told the Titan Sports paper that he would be taking two "transformer" toys with him as a gift for Chinese NBA All-Star Yao Ming, who had arranged a doctor to look at the injury in Houston.


The Houston Rockets center has suffered from a series of injuries since he moved to the U.S. in 2002, most recently a stress fracture in his left foot that hindered his preparations for the Beijing Olympics.


Liu's long-term coach and mentor Sun Haiping said the 25-year-old may never recover sufficiently to reach the level of performance that won him the 2004 Olympic gold, the world record in 2006 and the world title in 2007.


"He is recovering well but is still far from being able to compete," Sun told the paper. "Whether he is able to fully heal, even the experts can't tell."

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