By Bridget O’Donnell
Liu Xiang after crashing into the first hurdle during a preliminary race in London.
Liu Xiang just can’t catch a break.
The Shanghai native, who shocked the world in 2004 when he captured the gold medal in the 110 meter hurdles in Athens, made yet another heartbreaking exit from the London Olympics yesterday after crashing into the first hurdle during a preliminary round race.
It’s not the first time Liu’s gold medal dreams have ended early — during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the hurdler famously pulled out of his signature event because of an Achilles tendon injury. The injury never fully healed, and Liu even had it taped before yesterday’s preliminaries.
Liu, who had millions of fans in China and became the face of the Chinese team in the run-up to Beijing, publicly apologized for the performance back in 2008. His coach, Sun Haiping, cried during a press conference after the race.
After yesterday’s race, Liu headed to the exit before turning around and hopping to the finish line on his left leg. On the way, he kissed the final hurdle in his lane.
Coach Feng Shuyong told media:
“I feel really sad because he has worked very hard to get back to the level he was at before as champion…
Seeing him hopping to the line shows the true spirit of the Olympics. He was still determined to go to the line.”
Image via sina.com.