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Corporate sponsors show faith in Liu after his pullout
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19:37, August 19, 2008

Corporate sponsors including Nike, VISA, Coca-Cola and Lenovo, have shown their faith in China's injured hurdler Liu Xiang after his abrupt withdrawal from the Olympics.

On Tuesday, full-page Nike ads featuring the face of the track star ran in all the country's major newspapers.

The copy read: "Love competition; Love risking your pride; Love winning it back; Love giving it everything you've got; Love the glory; Love the pain; Love Sport even when it breaks your heart."

"The advertisement, which we made overnight, expresses our support for him," said Zhu Jinqian, director of Nike Media China.

"Nike will definitely continue its cooperation with Liu," she added.

The group, which signed an ad agreement with Liu worth 4 million yuan (around 583,000 U.S. dollars), provided specially-designed sportswear for the 25-year-old with the Nike logo at the Games.

Shortly after Liu's exit, Nike issued a statement reading: "We understand his feelings now and expect his comeback."

Since his golden touch in the 110-meter hurdles in Athens, Liu has become one of the country's most familiar faces through ads for a dozen domestic and foreign brands on TV, the internet, billboards and buses.

Most so far, including VISA, NIKE, Coco-Cola, Ping An Insurance and the Yili Group, have voiced faith in Liu and willingness to continue their association with him.

"We believe that it takes courage for him to make the decision," said a supportive statement issued on Monday by China's insurance giant Ping An, which has chosen the sports star as an image representative.

"We do not want anyone to risk his health for a gold medal," it said.

Keith Kaerhoeg, group communications director of Coca-Cola Pacific, said the group would certainly continue its dealings with Liu and wished him a full and early recovery.

Source: Xinhua

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