Injury-hampered Chinese star concedes he will not compete at his home world championships in Beijing this summer

Liu Xiang, the 2004 Olympic 110m hurdles champion, has retired from athletics at the age of 31 after spending years battling injuries.

The Chinese star had not competed since limping out of the heats of the 2012 Olympics in London.

Liu set a world record of 12.91 when winning his country’s first Olympic athletics gold by a man.

He went on to lower that global mark to 12.88 and won the world title in 2007.

He was the poster athlete of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, but the host nation was left devastated when he walked away from the blocks before the start of his heat due to an existing Achilles injury.

Although he clocked below 13.2 seconds each of the next four years he was hampered by the injury when trying to regain his title in London 2012.

“I’m retiring. I want to start a new journey,” he said on Tuesday.

He had been hoping to make a comeback for this year’s IAAF World Championships in Beijing this summer, but the old injury has still been plaguing him and the Chinese team doctor said last winter that he could only hope for 13.50 at best this season.

In addition, a Chinese news source has linked the timing of his announcement to a sponsorship commitment. As one of the most famous sports stars in the world’s most populous nation, Xiang’s total endorsements have been estimated at $160 million.

Ruling out that potential comeback, he wrote on his blog this week: “My foot told me no again and again, and there was no way it was going to be able to handle intense training and competition.

“I hate my foot, I love my track and my hurdles so much, and if I hadn’t injured my foot … but then there are no ifs in this world. I injured myself, and can only accept it silently.”