Liu Xiang ‘preparing’ to retire

The greatest track and field athlete ever produced by China, Liu Xiang, is reportedly preparing to retire.

The his coach Sun Haiping, who helped guide him to winning the gold medal in the 110m hurdles at the Athens Olympics, is quoted by news portal

"Liu Xiang is indeed preparing to announce his retirement," said Sun Haiping.

Whilst Shanghai-born athlete's apparently imminent retirement is bound to be an emotional affair, it has been widely expected in the world's most populous country.
The 31-year-old is much-loved in the country of his birth, partly due to the heart-breaking set-backs he suffered during his career.

The hurdler burst onto the seen in the lead-up to the Athens Games in 2004, where he shocked the world by becoming the first Chinese man to win a gold medal in a track and field event.

Following that victory, he won the world title in 2007 and was widely tipped to defend his Olympic crown in Beijing in 2008.

However, he limped off during the first heat at the Bird's Nest stadium injured, shocking the nation.

He made a slow recover after that disappointment but was looking like nearing his best form again before the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

In the British capital, Liu collided with the first hurdle of his opening heat, and after being helped up, he hobbled off the track.

He hasn't raced competed since then.

When exactly the announcement of his retirement will be made remains unclear, with some sources saying he will address the media on Tuesday, while others claim his decision will be confirmed at his upcoming wedding.