Olympic champion hurdler Liu Xiang will announce his retirement to his 32 million followers on Weibo next week, according to Chinese reports.
“Liu’s long-term coach, Sun Haiping, reportedly told local media insiders on a private occasion this week that the 31-year-old former World and Olympic champion is likely to announce his retirement through his Weibo account next Tuesday,” Shanghai Daily reported.
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.
In February, Liu downplayed his chances of competing at the World Championships in Beijing this summer.
“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 in February, 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 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.