Liu Xiang surgery 'very successful'

Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang has had "very successful" surgery on the injury that dashed his Olympic hopes and put his career in doubt, a senior official said on Sunday.

The former 110m champion, who hobbled out of the stadium for a second successive Games when he ruptured his Achilles tendon, is now recovering well, according to China's chef de mission Liu Peng.

"After his tendon ruptured he's received a lot of attention from the public and the media," said Liu. "On the ninth of August, Liu Xiang went through a very successful surgery and the doctor who treated him is very famous."

"Liu Xiang is recovering well, so he's fine."

A Chinese official earlier told AFP that Liu had been in good spirits when he visited him in the Olympic village, despite his heartbreaking exit.

Liu, 29, clattered into the first hurdle in his opening heat and fell heavily. After being helped up, he hopped the length of the course, kissed the last hurdle and was embraced by fellow competitors.

"He's in pain but he's very brave and optimistic," Chinese Olympic committee spokesman Zhang Haifeng said, the day before the operation.

"He's in bed in the athletes village. I visited him yesterday and talked a little bit and gave him some greetings. It's really a sad thing but his spirit inspires young people very much."

A specially created Chinese website drew 28 million messages of support for Liu in just one day, while a TV commentator sobbed on air as the athlete left the Olympic Stadium.

It was eerily similar to Liu's withdrawal from the 2008 Olympics, which left a nation in shock. Liu had shot to stardom at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, when he became China's first male athletics champion.

Hopes are slim that he will compete at the next Olympics in 2016, and officials are non-committal on whether one of China's biggest stars will return to competition.

"He is not thinking about retiring. (But) it is hard to say (if he will return)," said his coach Feng Shuyong, according to the China Daily. "I hope all the fans can understand this, and that anything can happen."

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