Liu Xiang

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  • Post category:China

Name: Liu Xiang

Country: China 

Date: 18 July 1986

Education: Shanghai No. 2 Sports School, East China Normal University 

Type of Business: Athlete, Spokesperson for Nike and Coca-Cola

Main Achievements: Breaking Allen Johnson’s World record 

Something interesting about this person: He loves karaoke.


Liu Xiang is a legendary athlete in China. He is hailed for various reasons. First, for breaking world records in hurdling. Second, for bringing China fame in a category that has traditionally been considered to be dominated by western athletes. He was born on 13 July 1983, in Shanghai, his family was not very rich. However, his genetics gifted him with height and the ability to be an exceptional athlete. Before he could become one, however, doctors ran some tests on him. Unlike western countries, China analyzes the body structure of its potential athletes to determine whether they naturally have the capabilities to be world-class athletes.  They concluded that his bone structure was ideal for high jumps when he was in 4th grade.

 His parents enrolled him in Shanghai No. 2 Sports School where he trained, and though he was talented, he could not become a star athlete because he would not grow tall enough to be a world-class high jump athlete. Though his physical tests did not reveal it, he had the iron resolve of a champion. 

Hence, his instructors advised him to train for hurdling instead. However, he was assigned to team B, where he was bullied by his teammates. It was an event that distressed his parents, who decided to pull him out of the school and enrol him into a regular school.  However, Sun Haiping, his coach, advised his parents against the decision. He went as far as saying that he would take responsibility for nurturing him as an athlete and as a person. 

Against the wishes of their own family, his parents allowed Liu to continue training. At the age of 18, he started winning at national competitions and hence, started to compete internationally.  When he was a student at East China Normal University, he competed in the world university games, winning in hurdling. In 2002 he broke the world junior record for hurdling in Lausanne, Switzerland. 

He attained his most significant victory in 2004 at Athens when he became the first Chinese athlete to win a gold medal in track and field. It was also during the Olympics in Athens that he set a world record. He completed a 110-meter hurdle in 12.88 seconds defeating Allen Johnson who set a record in 1996. 

Though he is not very renowned in other countries, ever since his victory, Liu has been a spokesperson for various brands. He has been a spokesperson for brands like Nike, Coca Cola. Not only is he a world-class athlete, but he also remains humble and modest about his achievements. Though he has made more than 15.7 million dollars, he is still living with his parents. He bought an apartment in an old shanghai building instead of a luxurious one. 

However, not everything is rainbows and sunshine. Liu Xiang has struggled with fame. Though he is rich, he cannot go shopping easily. Though he is the most eligible bachelor in China, he has yet to have a girlfriend.  He has stated that being famous is not easy and he wished he could live an ordinary life. 

 His career was cut short because of an injury in his Achilles tendon. He was under incredible pressure to earn gold for China in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Though he did clear the first race, he was forced to pull out of the Olympics much to the shock of the country because of an injury.  He faced similar problems in the London Olympics in 2012 when he crashed against the first hurdle. The reason behind this was that the tendon on his legs would be under pressure when he had to get into the position to start. His starting technique was already weak, which led him to commit mistakes at the beginning of his race. He retired in 2015, an event that shocked China.