Photos from Tianya:
During hurdles training, Liu Xiang was taking a break when suddenly a male athlete wearing a black shirt with a completion number and a backpack walked behind Liu Xiang and bear hugged him from behind.
The subsequent move shocked the staff at the scene. This man acted like an endearing little bird (小鸟依人), putting his head on Liu Xiang’s shoulder. While looking “intoxicated” and hugging Liu, he also whispered in Liu Xiang’s ear and became very intimate. Liu Xiang was angry, a quick reflex response, he broke free from the man’s arms. Irritated, Liu Xiang then turned around and glared at the man. From reading his lips, it looks as if he said “mental case!”[QQ]
It wasn’t difficult for netizens to flesh this man out. Zhang Chong (张崇) is actually Liu Xiang’s teammate on the Shanghai team. This was his first time participating in the national games. However, Zhang Chong participated in City Games in 2007 and won the men’s 4×400 meters relay gold medal with his teammates when he was running the last leg. In addition, he won the silver medal in men’s 400 meter hurdles, and is seen as a promising rising star.
On the night of the incident, at around 18:30, Zhang Chong ran in the National Games men’s 400-meter hurdles final and won fifth place with the time of 51’63”. For a young athlete debuting in national games for the first time, Zhang Chong was still very excited after the game. After leaving the venue, Zhang Chong returned to Jinan Olympic athletes warm-up field where Liu Xiang was warming up on the runway.
After he saw Liu Xiang, Zhang Chong was still excited from the race and hugged Liu Xiang from behind. From the video, it looks as if Chang Chong whispered in Liu Xiang’s ear. According to reporter later who contacted Chong, “Zhang Chong later told me that because he just finished his race, he felt completely relaxed and happy, so he was very excited to hug Liu Xiang and convey his feelings to his ‘brother’”.
Zhang Chong never thought the hug between him and his ‘brother’ (Brothers in terms of having the same master) would stir up such a storm. “He never thought things were going to be hyped up like this.” Recently, Zhang Chong has become very popular on the Shanghai track and field team, and many teammates are talking about Liu Xiang’s “bear hug”. Zhang Chong has also felt the enormous pressure from the public. “He said he is going crazy”.
However, Liu Xiang’s response was far beyond Zhang Chong’s expectation. Zhang Chong scratching his head did not understand Liu’s disgusted and angry attitude. It is understood that Liu and Zhang have a good relationship. At the team base in Shanghai Xinzhuang, Zhang Chong often goes into Liu Xiang’s room. Some people even said Zhang Chong has a good temper, and that he is an introverted guy with no bad habits.
One detail is particularly noteworthy: On the 25th after winning the race, Liu Xiang and master Sun Haiping (孙海平) went into the CCTV studio for a program, there were a large number of other media reporters outside. In order to protect Liu from interference, Shanghai track and field team had two people at the door, acted as bodyguards, and one of them is Zhang Chong. At the time, Liu Xiang was also joking around with him.
That being the case, then why was Liu Xiang so angry when Zhang Chong hugged him? Some say the main reason is because Liu was warming up and he was going to race soon. At the time he was particularly focused, so, when someone suddenly disturbed him, he certainly would be very angry.
There is another theory that Liu Xiang has mysophobia, an unhealthy obsession with cleanliness. Hugged by Zhang Chong like this, of course he was angry. For example last year when he had surgery, he was quite hesitant because surgery would leave marks on his body and he had hard time accepting that.
Some say Liu Xiang showers three times a day. Ever since he was young, his could not wait until the next day to wash his clothes. According to Liu Xiang’s uncle, when Liu Xiang was 3 years old, and went to a relative’s house with his parents, he never change his shoes; but when guests went to his home, if they did not change their shoes, little Liu would not say anything but he would take a small rag and follow the guest wiping the floor wherever the guest went, until the guests felt guilty and changed into slippers.