Chinese sprint hurdler Liu Xiang (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Shanghai, China

2004 Olympic 110m hurdles champion Liu Xiang retires

China's 2004 Olympic 110m hurdles champion Liu Xiang announced his retirement on Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter, on Tuesday (7).

Liu became China's first Olympic men’s champion in athletics when he won in Athens, equalling what was then the world record of 12.91.

He then improved the world record to 12.88 in Lausanne, Switzerland, in July 2006 and won the gold medal over the barriers at the 2007 IAAF World Championships.

Liu, one of his nation's highest profile sports stars, is one of the official ambassadors for the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 and will now be spending his time in the next few months helping to promote the championships.

"I'm retiring. I want to start a new journey," Liu said in a message posted to his blog, blaming injury for his decision.

He added that he was, ''truly unwell and old and can no longer run and jump with you. Although it's sad, although it's painful, I really have no other choice."

The Shanghai native, now 31, hasn't competed since failing to finish in his heat at the London 2012 Olympics after rupturing his achilles tendon.

He pulled out of the 2008 Games in front of a home crowd with a similar injury.

Liu had talked about the possibility of making a return to competition this year, with the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 as his target.

"My foot told me no again and again, and there was no way it was going to be able to handle intense training and competition," Liu commented on Tuesday.

''I hate my foot, I love my track and my hurdles so much, and if I hadn't injured my foot ... but then there are no ifs in this world. I injured myself, and can only accept it silently.''

He added that he hopes now to contribute to Chinese sports development and help increase China's influence within the athletics world.

Phil Minshull for the IAAF