China's star hurdler, Liu Xiang will definitely miss this month's World Championships in Athletics after being left out of the lineup released by the Chinese Athletics Administrative Center (CAAC) yesterday.
Due to the absence of the men's 110m hurdles defending champion, China's medal expectations have been considerably lowered.
For the 12th Athletics World Championships in Berlin, which will be held from Aug 15-23, China will send a delegation of 32 athletes and half of them will be making their worlds debuts.
"The results we achieved at the last World Championships misled people that the level of China's athletics has improved a lot, but actually the overall situation hasn't been changed and we are still at a low level," said Feng Shuyong, vice-director of the CAAC.
"Due to the absence of Liu and the poor condition of some veterans we are facing a most difficult situation at the worlds this time," he said.
At the Osaka World Championships in 2007, the Chinese team claimed gold courtesy of Liu, a silver from women's marathoner Zhou Chunxiu and a bronze through women's hammer thrower Zhang Wenxiu.
It was the squad's best result since the 1993 Stuttgart Worlds at which China won four gold medals.
Former Olympic champion and world record holder Liu is still rehabilitating his injured foot, which forced him to withdraw from the Beijing Olympic Games last August. He had planned to attend the World Championships in Berlin but gave up on that idea several days ago.
"The current recovery training is very important to Liu and we don't want it to be interrupted by the trip to Berlin. So, it's better for him to watch the event on TV at home," Feng said.
Marathoner Zhou is also not in peak form. She finished a disappointing 12th in this year's London Marathon, two years after winning the event.
That, according to Feng, leaves the country's medal hopes resting on the shoulders of men's race walker Wang Hao and women's discus thrower Song Aimin. They are both currently ranked third in their events on the IAAF's list.
Olympic bronze-medal winning hammer thrower Zhang will also strive for a medal in Berlin. She claimed the bronze in Beijing with a throw of 74.32 meters.
(China Daily 08/06/2009 page24)