Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang downplayed his chances of competing at the World Championships in Beijing this summer and will explore non-athlete roles to participate, according to Chinese reports Tuesday.
“I really want to compete at the World Championships, especially on my home soil, but the chances for me to compete in Beijing seem to be very limited,” Liu said, according to Xinhua News Agency. “I will try to find other ways to join the Beijing Worlds.”
“I think the possibility is pretty slim,” Liu said, according to China Daily. “I might be able to take part in the event in another role.”
Liu, the 2004 Olympic 110m hurdles champion, hasn’t competed since an Achilles injury derailed him for a second straight Olympics at London 2012. He underwent surgery after the Games.
Liu is the first Chinese men’s track and field Olympic champion, but the Achilles injury also took him out during heats at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, where he was arguably the biggest star of those Games. The 2015 World Championships will be at the same revered venue, the Bird’s Nest stadium.
Liu’s comments came two days after a Chinese track and field official downplayed Liu’s fitness.
“He is still training, but his current result [in trial races] hasn’t been up to the mark to meet the requirement of the World Championships according to IAAF rules,” the official said, according to China Daily.
It doesn’t appear Liu would need to return to anywhere near his then-world record form of 12.87 seconds from 2006 to make a maximum three-man Chinese team in the event for Worlds. Only one Chinese hurdler has run better than 13.48 the last two years.