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Liu to compete at Shanghai

BEIJING -- Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang will
return to competition for the first time since hobbling out of
the Beijing Olympics at next weekend's Shanghai Golden Grand
Prix, organizers said Saturday.

The 26-year-old former Olympic and world 110-meter hurdles
champion had an operation last December to repair the Achilles
injury that ended his Olympic title defense. He returned to
training in July.

"After communicating with the Chinese Athletic Association,
the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix committee has officially
announced that Liu Xiang will compete at the SHGGP this year," according to a statement on the official Web site.

The return of Liu in his home city is a huge boost to the
organizers of the Sept. 20 meeting at Shanghai Stadium
after Olympic and world champion sprinter Usain Bolt pulled out
Friday, citing fatigue.

Despite his aborted title defense at last August's Beijing
Olympics, Liu remains one of China's highest-profile sportsmen. Organizers warned the public against expecting too much
from him.

"After careful inspection, the doctor has confirmed that
Liu's foot injury has healed enough for him to compete in the
race," according to the statement on the Web site. "It will take some time for him to return to top form
[and] ... as a result, the committee has appealed to Liu's fans
to give their encouragement but not focus too much on the final
result."

Liu's Web site said he ran a time of
13.70 seconds against the wind on Thursday, well off the
12.88 he ran to claim the then-world record in 2006, but enough
to convince him that he was ready to return.

"[The test run] was a practical exam of Liu's training and
recovery, which has made him more confident to return to the
track," China's athletics head coach Feng Shuyong was quoted as
saying.

Liu was China's first men's Olympic gold medalist on the
track when he raced to a surprise victory in Athens in 2004. He added the world record and world title to his collection during the next three years.

"Liu himself is keen to return to the track as early as
possible and get back to his best form through competitions, in
order to win glory for the country in the future international
tournaments," Feng said.