Reporters turn out to farewell veteran biathlete Liu

09:31, February 25, 2010      

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No Chinese reporters at the Vancouver Games bothered following the biathlon events at the Whistler ski resort over the first five days of competition.

However, dozens turned up on Tuesday - not only because it was the last day of competition for Chinese biathletes in Vancouver but also as they wanted to say goodbye to veteran Liu Xianying, who was competing in her fourth and final Winter Olympics.

At the age of 32, Liu has decided to say farewell to the sport she has been doing for 17 years. Sadly for the veteran she will not leave Canada or the biathlon on a high.

The Chinese team's best performance in Vancouver was a ninth-place finish in the women's 4x6km relay. In the individual events, the leading performance was Liu's 30th-place effort in the 10km pursuit.

After her final race, Liu said it was the right time to leave.

"I am satisfied concluding my career like this," Liu said after the relay race. "I didn't set any goals for myself at these Games. I just wanted to perform at my best and contribute as much as possible for my country."

In 1992, Liu was selected to become a biathlete after training as a long-distance runner for two years. Her good physical condition and flexibility drew attention and she joined the army's team, the only sports team in China that caters to biathlon athletes.

"I knew nothing about skiing at that time but when I heard that biathletes competed with a gun I was interested and agreed to join the team," Liu said. "When I started to train I fell in love with it and wanted to make it my career."

Liu joined the national ranks in 1996 and helped the team finish seventh in the relay at her first Winter Olympics at Nagano in 1998. She reached her peak before the 2006 Turin Games when she claimed silver in the 10km pursuit at the 2005 World Championships. She also finished second twice in the 2004-05 World Cup season.

At Turin, Liu was seventh in the women's 12.5km mass start, her best result at the Winter Olympics, and ninth in the 10km pursuit and the relay.

"I thought about retiring after the Turin Games but China's (biathlon) reserves were weak, so I was persuaded by the team to go on for one more Olympics."

Source:China Daily
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