(dpa) - Liu Xiang will have to come out of hiding at 1150 am (0350 GMT) on Monday and Cathy Freeman will know exactly how he will feel.
Whether or not the national sports icon can carry the burden of expectation of 1.3 billion Chinese will already be determined in his heat of the Olympic 110m hurdles competition.
While basketballer Yao Ming at least has the help of teammates, the world and Olympic champion Liu has to shoulder the burden himself.
Freeman was in a similar situation when the Aussie icon first lit the cauldron at the Sydney Games and then delivered the 400m gold the entire continent expected from her.
"When I consider the pressure, expectation, and the attention that surrounded me at the time, I honestly feel quite unwell," Freeman said on her website.
"I'm so glad I didn't realise the intense public and media interest surrounding me back then, as I fear I may have buckled under the massive weight if I had been aware."
Freeman said she could empathise with what Liu has been going through over the years since a surprise Olympic title 2004, with a world record following in 2006 and the world title in 2007 to add to the expectations.
"China's only male athletics Olympic champion is under pressure to perform and win ... my only advice to Liu Xiang is to just breathe, breathe, breathe, and to just do what you know," she said.
Liu may be visible all over Beijing and the rest of China on billboards and television, but the Chinese hurdler has gone into hiding with his coach almost all season.
His 2008 best result is 13.18 seconds from a test event in the National Stadium to which he will return on Monday from a hamstring injury, a far cry from his personal best 12.88 seconds.
That mark was a world record until Cuban Dayron Robles ran 12.87 seconds two months ago to add even more pressure on Liu. Robles has also run 12.88 and 12.91 in an awesome campaign.
Like Freemann, Briton Colin Jackson, whose world record 12.91 seconds Liu beat two years ago, talked about the pressure surrounding Liu. Jackson said that the Chinese runner was in a far more difficult situation because his event is less predictable than the 400m hurdles.
"Unfortunately, when you are carrying the hopes of a whole nation, you can't really get away from it. Everywhere he goes there are always Chinese people. He cannot hide from them. He knows he is such a big star and cannot get away from that," said Jackson.
"Now, if he wins, he can do anything he wants for the rest of his days. If he loses, things might be very, very different.
"A lot of people can win. There's really only one person who can lose this race, and that's Liu Xiang," Jackson said.