BEIJING - Fang Shuiquan, the man who first spotted the talents of Liu Xiang, yesterday revealed the reason why his one-time protege tripped up at the marriage hurdle.
A day after the former Olympic hurdles champion announced that he was divorcing his actress wife Ge Tian, Fang claimed that a fake pregnancy was the reason behind the 290-day marriage.
"Liu and his family felt deceived by the fake pregnancy," he told Sina, one of China's biggest Web portals.
We ended the marriage today. We hope we can each have a better life from now on.
We bless each other.
- Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang
His comments followed speculation - believed to have been fuelled by Ge's friends - that Liu's infidelity was the cause of the split.
The 31-year-old became an icon in China after he won the country's first Olympic men's athletics gold medal in the 110 metres hurdles in Athens in 2004.
He became world champion in 2007 and held the world record in 2006 with a time of 12.88 seconds.
According to various Chinese media reports last September, Liu and Ge had a shotgun wedding when she was two months pregnant.
Liu Xuegen, the athlete's father, had also hinted to the media that she was expecting.
The marriage took place after a two-year courtship, and many of Liu's fans were not optimistic of the union at that time, saying that Ge, 26, just wanted to enhance her popularity by walking down the aisle with the Olympic gold medallist.
She was known for acting as a woman who made use of a grenade concealed in her crotch to kill Japanese soldiers in an anti-Japan TV drama in May.
Liu never commented when Ge's drama was described as vulgar and later pulled off the air.
The couple were rarely seen together in public and speculation was rife in May that they were headed for a divorce. By then, they were already not following each other via Weibo.
Liu told his fans through Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter, that incompatibility was the reason for the divorce.
"We ended the marriage today," he said on Thursday.
"We hope we can each have a better life from now on. We bless each other."
Two hours after his announcement, there were over 100,000 comments on his Weibo account, mostly showing support for the former national hero.