Liu out of 110 hurdles, fans and rivals show respect
Updated: 2012-08-07 20:50:50
LONDON - Chinese 110 meters hurdler Liu Xiang showed that you do no need to win a medal to be an Olympic hero this Tuesday.
The 2004 Olympic champion had been struggling with a foot injury and a back problem in recent weeks, but nevertheless decided to take the start line in the morning heats of the event.
Liu Xiang sits on the track after suffering an injury in his men's 110m hurdles round 1 heat during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium August 7, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]
The Chinese athlete, who had suffered a tendon problem in the 2008 Olympics, got a good start, but crashed into the first hurdle and fell badly, hurting his right ankle. Incredibly, Liu had been wearing the same number, 1356, that he had worn when he was injured four years ago.
However, Liu's pride saw him complete the home straight, hopping the rest of the distance on his left foot in order to protect his right ankle.
The other athletes in the heat all showed their respect for the 2004 champion by waiting for Liu to complete the distance and on the finish line, the Hungarian runner, Balazs Baji held Liu's arm aloft for him to receive the applause of the 80,000 capacity crowd in the Olympic Stadium.
Great Britain's Andy Turner, who won the heat, also offered support to Liu and had words of praise for the Chinese athlete.
"I regard him as the best hurdler in history and I have so much respect for him," said Turner.
"It was horrible to see him limp off like that so I had to go and help him. When you met with someone you have a connection with them and, after last year in Daegu, we always say hello and try to have a chat. He's a nice guy and I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. I saw him warming up and noticed that he had an Achilles problem," added Turner.