Daily Telegraph on Liu Xiang and the “Beckham Factor”

Posted in Track and Field/Athletics at 4:55 pm by Nicole

It’s about time somebody started seriously writing about the risks Liu Xiang now faces as China’s superstar – god – fastest – man – ever – fill – in – the – blank – here – with – the – superlative – of – your – choice athletic hero. On Wangfujing Dajie in Beijing – the main tourist shopping street a few blocks east of Tiananmen Square – Nike had huge advertisements up by the weekend that said, simply, “12.88.” The Daily Telegraph has written an article on Liu and what they’re calling “the Beckham factor” – the risk of overexposure and pressure to succeed that comes with having the perfect storm of athletic success and personal qualities that make an athlete an icon for an entire nation. Add in the Olympics being in your home country in two years’ time, and being the only Asian man ever to win a sprint gold at the Olympics, and the photogenic smile and the hordes of fans, and you’ve got a recipe for either ultimate triumph or ultimate disaster on your hands. My wish for Liu is to have the lowest of profiles for a good long time so that he can train and rest, now that he’s satisfied the world-record seekers…but given his immense popularity in China that’s not likely to happen soon.

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