Olympics: Liu Xiang crashes out in new Games heartbreaker
LONDON (AFP) - Chinese athletics icon Liu Xiang suffered more Olympic pain on Tuesday as he crashed out in the opening round of the 110m 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.
His career has been hampered by injuries ever since he took gold and equalled the then world record held by Colin Jackson of 12.91secs at Athens in 2004.
He was to go on and better it with a time of 12.88secs 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.