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Liu ‘flees’ Britain

London: As athletes begin arriving in the UK from around the world, one of the biggest names in athletics has already decided to leave.

Chinese media has reported that Liu Xiang, the one-time 110 metres hurdles world record holder, has abandoned the wet British weather for Dusseldorf in Germany. Liu, who was seen by many as being the face of the 2008 Olympics, was forced to withdraw from the Beijing Games after pulling up injured before his heat.

Other members of the Chinese team are based in Leeds, but that had already been ruled out by Liu and his coach Sun Haiping because conditions were inappropriate. He had only been in London since the end of last week, and had arranged to train at St Mary's University College in Twickenham, reports a leading daily.

According to another newspaper, “Due to the low temperatures in London, many Chinese athletes and other sports teams have chosen to look for other training bases. Liu Xiang is not the only one.”

Liu is said to have chosen Dusseldorf because it was close enough to travel easily from the UK, involved a minimum adjustment to his body clock and had a similar climate to London. The hurdler is also familiar with the western German city, having trained there before.

The news will fuel growing fears in China that their star athlete could be about to withdraw from his second consecutive Games.