A new kind of balancing act
When winning her gymnastics gold medal at the 2000 Olympic Games, Liu Xuan expressed herself through her beautiful moves on the balance beam. Eight years later, she is no longer a gymnast but an all-round artist about to release her latest song.
'I have a complicated feeling towards the Olympics this year. The Games are going to be held on my home soil but I can no longer represent China as an athlete. It's a pity but I've chosen to take part in another role - as a singer.
'I decided to use my voice to cheer and support the Chinese athletes, as well as the Beijing Olympics,' Liu says. 'When I was an athlete I sang when I was nervous and stressed.'
Last year, this thought inspired Liu to start work on her new song. She invited famous local producer Paul Wong to help her.
'The recording went smoothly and quickly. I finished it in just four hours,' Liu says. 'Paul is a great producer. He let me integrate and express my own feelings in the song, without any pressure. I love it very much, it represents part of me and feels like my first ever song because it's really what I wanted to do.
'I would like to communicate what it feels like for the athletes preparing for the biggest competition in their lives - the Olympics.'
Liu is now preparing her next song. The theme is also related to Olympics, this time capturing the emotions of an athlete during the competition.
'The next song is scheduled to for release in August during the Olympics,' Liu explains.
Liu completed a journalism degree at Peking University in 2005. 'As a journalist I thought I would face many limitations and it would not be suitable for me. In the long run I will stick to refereeing gymnastics as my career,' Liu says.
'The workload of a referee is not heavy. In my free time I'd like to try out different roles and explore the world.
'Between the ages of five and 21, I only had gymnastics in my life.
I focused on it and made it my whole world. In the years after my retirement as a professional athlete, I searched for, and tried to identify, my life target.
'I still enjoy the feeling of being focused on one thing, but I would like to try different things to make my life more varied,' explains Liu, who has also taken acting roles in movies and TV dramas.
'I'm a person who can only concentrate on one thing at a time. At present I'd like to focus on my singing career and try my best to do that job well.
'Singing is challenging. I've never received formal training in how to use my voice. I still need to improve a lot.'
Liu says even though she was used to facing pressure when she was an athlete, she still feels nervous while performing live. 'When standing on the stage, my body language is my biggest weakness. I hope to overcome this problem and present my best side to my fans and supporters.'
Despite this, Liu is already looking ahead to trying out some upbeat songs and dance numbers in the near future. It seems like this flexible performer can't stop herself lining up the next hurdle.
You can check out Liu's new song, Ready ... Go! on www.eolasia.com