Chinese athletics icon Liu Xiang suffered more Olympic pain yesterday as he crashed out in the opening round of the 110 metres hurdles.
The 29-year-old, who four years ago withdrew from the event in front of his home crowd before his opening heat in Beijing, hit the first hurdle with his left leading leg and crashed to the floor.
Former Olympic champion Liu, who had been affected by back and foot problems in the past month, eventually got up and hopped down the track to be embraced by his fellow competitors. He was helped off the track by Britain’s Andy Turner and Spain’s Jackson Quinonez and then taken away from the arena in a wheelchair.
Fellow competitor Balazs Baji of Hungary had waited for Liu at the finish line, taking the Chinese star’s hand in his.
“When I was a kid I saw him breaking a world record, winning the Olympic Games in Athens so he’s a great idol for me. I’m sorry that he fell. It must be really bad for him,” he said. “Since he fell I’m just sorry for him.”
Liu’s dream of winning gold in front of his home crowd at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 ended in one of the great Olympic anti-climaxes as he turned up for his heat but failed to clear a hurdle, clearly hindered by his Achilles tendon injury. He was to go on and better it with a time of 12.88 seconds and also win a world title in 2007 but a succession of injuries have taken their toll.
However, he showed the old spark in the World Championships last year and was flying when he was twice hindered by 2008 Olympic champion Dayron Robles and ended up third only to be promoted to second when the Cuban was disqualified from top spot.
Liu has a ruptured Achilles tendon
Liu Xiang suffered a suspected ruptured Achilles tendon as he crashed out of the Olympics yesterday, a team official confirmed.
China’s athletics team leader in London, Feng Shu Yong, later revealed Liu had possibly snapped his Achilles. “The initial diagnosis is that he has a ruptured Achilles tendon. In the last several years he has had good medical care, but it is still there,” Feng said.
Tears all the way
China was in shock yesterday as athletics hero Liu Xiang crashed out of the Olympic 110m hurdles. Even state television sports commentator Yang Jian could not hold back his tears as he reported the news to a stunned nation. The Internet was instantly flooded with comments on the national hero’s performance, with Liu nicknamed “Liu Shuaishuai” (Liu fell-fell) on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. Some were more sympathetic to their fallen idol. “Liu Xiang you are still our hero,” said “SowahFong”.