Who Is Liu?

From Times Online:

“Girls like him, old ladies like him, even men,” says Feng Shuyong, head coach of China’s national athletics team. But who is Liu Xiang?

He is the 110 metres hurdles Olympic champion, just one of China’s 32 gold medal-winners from Athens but the only one who needs a blacked-out car to drive him to private rooms at karaoke bars. He is the only one who cannot step outside his home in Shanghai for fear of being mobbed. The only one handed the Olympic torch by President Hu Jintao in Tiananmen Square. In short, Liu is the biggest star in China.

Why, you ask? The answer is twofold. First, he beat the West in one of their own events, a cross-cultural contest of speed and strength out of kilter with traditional metiers such as diving, shooting and table tennis. And secondly, Liu is a good citizen, a proud patriot and a man with traditional manners.

Liu xiang, Chinese athlete. Photo taken in Hong Kong Stadium, 2004

, Chinese athlete. Photo taken in Hong Kong Stadium, 2004

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