Until today, the biggest moment of the Games have been Micheal Phelps 8 Olympic medals in swimming and Usain Bolt's 100 meter world record on the track! Well, move over sports fans! LIu Xiang, the second most famous athlete in China,
is hurt and will not compete in the Games! His achilles injury made it impossible for him to complete his hurdle qualifying round..
1.3 billion Chinese sports fans watched Liu Xiang wince during his warm up before the 110 meter hurdle qualifying this morning and watched him stop before the first hurdle in his heat, number six. Due to a now announced achilles injury on his right foot, Liu Xiang did not race at these games. The false start in his heat just added to the irony.
Chinese TV had a tribute up of him within a half hour of his race. I was watching a live press conference with members of the Chinese Federation and his coach, who weeped in front of the press.
The Chinese people have not been that forgiving. In a copyrighted story already going the rounds, online reaction on Chinese websites bas been brutal, "He is a dog." "He is a fake". "He is scared." "I hate him". These comments were posted on Baidu, an online web community.
"He only went out there (to the heats) to show off his shoes (for his sponsors)," was also posted.
I watched a TV commentator on Chinese national TV, so overcome, stop speaking several times. This story is not over....
TRACK PROFILE Report #808
BEIJING STUNNER: INJURY FORCES LIU XIANG FROM THE GAMES
By Bob Ramsak
(c) 2008 TRACK PROFILE Report, all rights reserved
BEIJING -- No matter what has already or what has yet to transpire during these Olympic Games, nothing will produce a bigger shock than this morning’s withdrawal of China’s defending Olympic champion Liu Xiang from the 110m hurdles.
Rumors swirling throughout the morning that the 25-year-old was injured were confirmed, first through video images of the grimacing athlete that were beamed to a packed house at National Stadium, and then again as he prepared to start in his opening round heat. Limping visibly, he took to the blocks anyway, but walked off the track soon after the race was called back for a false start.
Vividly illustrating the massive pressure and emotional investment put in Liu over the last four years, his coach Sun Haiping broke down several times during a packed press conference held immediately following the conclusion of the hurdles’ first round.
Sun confirmed that Liu was forced to pull out after problems arose with his Achilles tendon, another flare up of chronic foot problems that have shadowed his entire career. He said three doctors were with him throughout the morning trying desperately to rescue his starting bid.
“No matter what they did, there was nothing they could do,” Sun said, again openly weeping. “Whatever they did it was useless because the injury in on his heel, which takes the most force. Whenever he stood up, he fell down.”
Since taking the gold medal in Athens four years ago, equaling the ten-world record of 12.92 seconds in the process, Liu was the poster boy for these entire Olympic Games. One of the most popular athletes and most recognized faces in this vast nation of 1.3 billion, the pressure he faced in the intervening years can’t be overstated. The disappointment and shock was clearly illustrated in the stunned faces of the hushed crowd.
Hobbled by injury throughout the season, there had always been questions about he might achieve here, but few if any had predicted that he would barely reach the start line.
“We didn’t realize the problem was so serious that it would cause today’s problem,’ said Feng Shouyong, the Chinese team’s head coach. “When he went to the stadium he went in with the greatest and strongest will. He wanted to compete.”
“Let me repeat,” Feng said, “Liu Xiang will not withdraw unless the pain in unbearable.”
Ironically, Liu had lined up in lane 2, the same lane that minutes before saw the demise of two-time defending silver medallist Terrence Trammell of the U.S. Barely making it from the blocks, Trammell also stepped off the track soon after clearing the first hurdle, hobbling with an injury to his left leg.
American David Oliver led all qualifiers with his 13.30 victory in heat 1 while Cuban Dayron Robles, who took the world record from Xiang this year clocking 12.87, won his heat comfortably in 13.39 and now remains the overwhelming favorite for gold.
Used my permission of Bob Ramsak, http://www.trackprofile.com