SHANGHAI: The comeback date of hurdler Liu Xiang, one of the nation's biggest names in sports, remains unclear although he trained at Xinzhuang Training Base in the full glare of the public yesterday.
The surgical wound on Liu's right Achilles tendon has not completely healed and doctors have advised him to wait longer before training at full tilt.
"Liu had his latest physical check last Tuesday and after a discussion with health experts, we found that his recovery is going well up to now," said Chen Shiyi, Liu's doctor at Shanghai Huashan Hospital.
"But there are still some problems in the joint of his Achilles tendon and ankle bone, so we suggested that he wait a little longer until he can train at 100 percent," the doctor said.
The severe injury on Liu's right Achilles tendon forced the former Olympic champion to limp out of the Bird's Nest in the first round of the men's 110m hurdles at the Beijing Games in August last year.
During surgery in Texas last December, Liu had four small pieces of bone removed from the Achilles tendon in his right foot.
After three months of rehabilitation in Houston, he returned to his hometown of Shanghai in March to continue treatment and prepare for his comeback to the track.
According to his coach, Sun Haiping, Liu will undergo another physical check in the next two months and the date for his return to competition may be decided then.
Sun was hoping that training with spiked shoes would get underway if his foot was completely healed by the latest medical checkup. Sun has said that Liu could possibly take part in a September competition in Shanghai.
"During his training, his injured right foot still felt a little bit painful, the result of which is in accordance with the medical examination. All our efforts are to secure Liu's safety and stop his injury from reoccuring, so we won't push him to go all out in training right now," said Sun. "If he gets injured again, his sports career will end."
During yesterday's public training, Liu went through several hurdle runs with a relaxed expression on his face under the watchful eye of a throng of reporters and photographers.
The training session eased the rumors from some local media that Liu would announce his retirement.
The training event lasted about 40 minutes before Liu fled.
As he made his way to a physical therapy session at the training facilities, Liu turned back to give a gesture of victory with a beaming smile.
"Liu's training went on very well today and the training amount is up to 80 to 90 percent of his tasks as before the injury. Liu has never thought of retirement and he is always confident," said Sun afterward. "Today's training is not a show.
"It is our wish that Liu could be recovered completely in time to compete in September and then take part in the National Games in October, but it is hard to predict the exact time," Sun said.
Slow recovery threatens to sideline Yao next season
Houston Rockets' all-star center Yao Ming's basketball career has been cast in doubt after reports revealed yesterday his injury is worsening, which may force him out of action for the next NBA season or possibly end his career.
Rockets team physician Tom Clanton told the Houston Chronicle that the Chinese superstar's broken left foot could be a "career-threatening" injury.
"Yao is not experiencing any pain in his left foot. However, the results from the CT and bone scans we performed over the past two days indicate that the hairline fracture has not responded to the degree that we expected," Clanton said.
"We will review a variety of treatment options before proceeding.
"At this point, the injury has the potential for him missing the next season and could be career-threatening."
No other Rockets official was available for comment last night.
Chinese fans were shocked at the news yesterday and some blamed Rockets' tactics in using the giant center.