Chinese hurdler Liu may undergo surgery

Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang may travel to the United States later this month for surgery to repair the painful foot injury that forced his withdrawal from last month's Beijing Olympics, according to media reports on Wednesday.

Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang may travel to the United States later this month for surgery to repair the painful foot injury that forced his withdrawal from last month’s Beijing Olympics, according to media reports on Wednesday.

Chinese athletics officials have cited a flare-up of a years-old Achilles tendon injury as the reason behind Liu’s dramatic departure from his 110-metre hurdles heat in front of 91,000 cheering fans at Bird's Nest Stadium.

"The injury was worse than we imagined," the Sohu.com news site said Wednesday, citing an unidentified person with knowledge of the situation.

"No final decision has been made on a course of treatment, but he definitely will be undergoing an operation," the report said. The website is usually a reliable source of information, particularly about Chinese sports figures.

Separately, athletics official Yang Peigang was quoted by Shanghai’s Liberation Daily newspaper on Wednesday as saying a treatment plan would be submitted to the sports ministry for consultation before any final decisions were made.

"Nothing has yet been finalized," Yang was quoted as saying. "We’re first of all still waiting for the best treatment plan to emerge."

Doctors are monitoring the injury while the 25-year-old former Olympic champion focuses on upper body strength conditioning, the reports said. No recovery schedule has been drawn up, although it has been reported Liu could be out from six months to a year.

Liu is one of China’s most popular and best-paid sports stars, and his withdrawal came as a huge shock to many. Longtime coach Sun Haiping broke into tears during a following news conference and Liu himself insisted he dropped out only after the pain became unbearable.