March 07, 2012

HAVANA (AP) -- Cuba's injury-plagued Olympic hurdles champion Dayron Robles said he's considering retirement after he defends his title at the London Games.

The 25-year-old Robles, one of Cuba's most famous athletes, has been battling a recurring leg injury that forced him to withdraw from the world indoor championships this weekend in Istanbul.

"I have to motivate myself to give my best effort when it counts most this summer," Robles told The Associated Press late Tuesday at Havana's Jose Marti airport. "I am disappointed about many things. I want to finish the Olympics and retire right then and there."

Robles' trainer, Santiago Antunez, said the sprint hurdler would see a doctor this week to determine the best course of treatment for his leg injury.

Antunez hinted that Robles' problems are as much motivational as health-related, holding out hope the hurdler might reconsider his decision.

"We are going to work hard to defend the title in London," he said. "Right now, Dayron is upset. We must fight so that he is the Olympic champion and that is how he will recover his motivation."

The news that Robles is even contemplating the end of his career is a major blow to Cuba's sporting ambitions. Robles won the 110-meter hurdles at the Beijing Olympics, one of just two gold medals the Communist-run island claimed at those games.

Robles would not give any details about the injury, other than to say it was a recurring issue. He said he was so bothered by it that he was well off his best at an event last month in Stockholm.

"At the last competition, and many people saw this, I was practically race walking because I couldn't do anything," Robles said.

Robles posted a relatively slow time of 7.66 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles at that meet, but won when his main rival Liu Xiang was disqualified for a false start.

Robles was disqualified at last year's world outdoor championships in South Korea when judges determined he obstructed Liu, and his withdrawal from the Turkey event ruled out a rematch.

Liu vs. Robles remains one of the most highly anticipated duels in London - especially now that it could be Robles' last competition.

In addition to the injury, Robles has complained recently about Cuba's poor training facilities. He called them "terrible," accusing the country's sports authorities of a lack of support.

"Nobody comes around to ask about anything, but they do come to demand results," he said in January.

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