Liu Xiang, the 2004 Olympic champion and the 2007 World Champion, injured his achilles in the build up to the 2008 Olympics. His first round was excruciating for his countrymen to watch. That day, on Chinese websites, the chatter on the websites was accusing pretty frantic: people torn up that their hero was hurt, accusing one and all of sabotaging him. Later that day, in a tearful news conference, his coach,in tears, apologized to the Chinese people. On Chinese TV that day, it was a death march.
People's Daily,2008 Olympics: Liu Xiang
Liu Xiang returned, taking the silver last year in the World Champs. This year, he defeated everyone, but was injured mid season and in the first round, hit a hurdle very hard, where he had to be taken away in a wheelchair.
In this column, Elliott Denman considers Liu Xiang's difficult years, and believes that Liu was injured due to the year of the Rat. Next year should be better...
By ELLIOTT DENMAN
LONDON - It's the Year Of The Dragon and that should explain all.
China's Xiang Liu, the 2004 Olympic 110-meter high hurdles champion and past world record-holder, didn't merely crash and burn at the very start of his event Tuesday
On close examination by the International Association of Athletics Federation's
slowest-mo cameras, he was seized up by this scaresome creature, which to many of the
IAAFers looked suspiciously like a mythological representation of a reptile, and deposited on the Olympic Stadium sidelines.
This was not just any reptile, mind you, but a lizard with legs.
Fire was emitting from its mouth. Bat-like wings grew out of its back.
This was the real thing, a very-real dragon.
Sorry, you most worthy and honorable competitor, you nicest of guys, Mr. Xiang Liu, you just seem to run into the wrong years.
When you won at the Athens Games, it was the Year Of The Monkey.
No problems there. Many monkeys are lovable, harmless creatures. Some even hire out as household pets.
When you earned your first gold at the World Outdoor Championships, this was the Year Of The Pig. Now who can't outrun a pig? Even I, in my advanced state of decline, can outrun a pig.
By the time of the Beijing Games, however, you should have been on closest guard.
The vast populace of your nation had placed its entire faith in your ability to bring
wonderment and joy to the Games which was such a milestone event in China's full-blast
rush into the many challenges of the 21st century.
But this was The Year Of The Rat.
We all know of the awfulness of rats.
Rats are opportunistic survivors often giving their near-neighbors of the human species
a terrible time of it. In worst-case scenarios, rats will deliver zoonotic pathogens
to your front door. Yes, such very bad news as swine fever and foot-and-mouth
Unloved in the community of humans, rats will often react in an aggressive
So now we know what transpired at the Beijing Games.
It was a rat that got you just as you stepped into the starting blocks. It pounced,
did its thing, thus totally preventing you from doing your own thing.
Soon, however, it was The Year Of The Rabbit and you were fully mended, fully
ready to charge full blast over those ten 42-inch barriers you'd long
been able to command to your personal preference.
Rabbits are cute hippity-hoppity things needing nothing more to lead their version of the good life than a good packet of carrots.
Rabbits would never get in your way of a good time and most surely in their own year,
which was last year. .
This Year Of The Dragon had opened with such promise.
You ran a close second to USA's Aries Merritt in the World Indoor Championships. Moving outdoors, you won big races in quick times at locales from Japan to your own China to Eugene, Oregon.
But, as we all know, dragons are persistent critters. They'll get you
and sometimes sooner than later..
So it was, so sadly, at Olympic Stadium Tuesday morning.
The Games were beginning to gather real momentum.
Mo Farah/Galen Rupp, Jessica Ennis, Usain Bolt/Yohan Blake/Justin Gatlin/Tyson Gay, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce/Carmelita Jeter, Kirani James, you really had things rolling. Until the calendar called and did its dirty deed.
Mr. Xiang Liu, you drove your left foot into your first hurdle, you toppled to the track, and twisted your right ankle in the process. A wheelchair was needed to get you away from the disaster scene,
You'd done everything you could think of to turn your luck in a positive direction,
You'd even found a way to wear lucky "1356" as your competition singlet number.
The 13 (minus decimal point) represented China's 1.3 billion population. The "56"
represented China's 56 ethnic groups.
But this was a task that couldn't be painted by the numbers.
Plain and simple, not even a relentless march forward by troops of The Great Leader
could turn "1356" into a winning number.
Salutes were raised to Mr. Xiang Liu's sturdiness of character and esteem as an athlete.
"I regard him as the best hurdler in history and I have so much respect for him," said Great
Britain's Andy Turner. "He's a nice guy and I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy."
"It's a shame what happened to Liu," concurred USA's Aries Merritt.
Of course, the race would go on bereft of the big man's presence.
Merritt would go on to win the final in 12.92, fastest flight of hurdles in his life, over teammate Jason Richardson's 13.04 and the 13.12 of Jamaica's Hansle Parchment.
The entire populace of the hurdles world certainly wishes Mr. Xiang Liu a speedy recovery
Into full health and further great performances.
He will only be 30 at this time next year.
This will be The Year Of The Snake and he surely can slither away from those creatures who have their own agendas, hidden and otherwise.