Hurdler champion Liu Xiang has been the center of attention in recent Olympic news after he had walked away from his most anticipated race.
Liu Xiang has been the center of attention since the 2004 Athens Olympics where he became the first Chinese man to win an athletics gold in the 110m hurdles. He has also set a world record in 2006 and captured a world championship in 2007. Liu then became more than an athlete but a hero to China.
The star has been reported to have a chronic injury in his right heel. His coaches describe the injury as an inflamed Achilles’ tendon and a bone growth. However this injury isn’t old news. Apparently he’s been battling it for years and it has been getting worse. In addition to his heel injury, his hamstring has also been giving him problems. This injury had forced him to pull out of the New York’s Reebok Grand Prix in May in addition to any summer races. The injury had continued to bother him until Saturday according to his blog but the coaches insisted that it would heal by Monday.
Finally the day of the race, Xiang was still in pain. Even before the race started, Xiang was grabbing his heel after a few practice hurdles; however, the crowd didn’t seem to notice. After a false start by a competition, Xiang stood up, ripped off his number and walked away into the tunnel.
Citizens were left in uproar and were unprepared for this, but the coaches have answered “At the time, nobody knew he couldn’t compete today.” Coaches have expressed their remorse stating that Xiang is also taking this hard.
Yesterday, the fallen star had stood in front of the press to express his apologies; that his decision was difficult to make because he does not take failure easily although he cannot complain about destiny but try again to bring back hope to China. No one knows how the citizens feel now after the apology but China’s state-run media has rallied around Xiang advising citizens to support him. Beijing News reports “To withdraw from a race is not to give up. Liu Xiang had no choice and this was a moment of great courage. For us spectators, if we respect the human spirit, then we absolutely must understand Liu’s decision.”