A new article from China Daily – and a really, really close re-reading of the article linked to here on Friday from Reuters – demonstrates that the Liu Xiang/achievements-meaningless-without-Beijing-gold news report may not have been based on any new information, just (perhaps – conjecture on my part) a desire to keep Liu’s name in the sports pages as he goes into seclusion for winter training.
Coach: Hurdler Liu has yet to reach full potential (China Daily)
The aforementioned article includes the full quote from Sun Haiping, Liu Xiang’s coach: “”Officials from the State General Administration of Sports once told us if Liu could not win a gold in Beijing, all of his previous achievements would become meaningless.”
Okay, that’s still a huge amount of pressure in my book. But it doesn’t sound like Liu was given a text message about the matter last week from Chinese officials – only that “once” Liu and/or Sun were told what the gold medal would mean to China.
It’s still overstating the case to suggest his past results have no meaning, no matter how or when the comment was relayed to Liu, and it’s still too much pressure for a young man who appears to have no discernable life outside of sport because he’s been put so high on a pedestal in Chinese society that he can’t do anything without attracting attention to himself. But it’s a little less sinister-feeling than when the first reports of this comment came out last week, in my opinion.