Meet Liu Xiang, an Olympic Chinese hurdler. See photos, video and a biography of Liu below.
Liu Xiang, the heavy favorite to defend his Athens Olympic gold in the 110-meter hurdles, withdrew from the event in Beijing Monday morning. Liu was in the starting blocks to begin the race, but a false start was called. He then ripped the paper with his number on it off of his legs and headed toward one of the tunnels. Why did he leave? He cited a nagging hamstring injury, according to a press release by meet organizers. His coach, Sun Haiping, said at a press conference later that Liu’s right foot was bothering him, an injury dating back six or seven years.
The Chinese fans in the Birds Nest were stunned. It was going to be the race of all races on Thursday night’s 100 meter hurdles final, where their hero, Liu Xiang, was to meet Cuba’s Dayron Robles, the hurdler who broke Liu’s world record back in June.
Liu started competing in 2000, when he participated in the World Junior Championships, and finished in fourth place in the 100 meter hurdles.
The following year, he won the 100m hurdle event in 13.42 seconds at the East Asian Games in Osaka, Japan. He competed at the World University Games in Beijing in August of 2001 and won, with a time of 13.33 seconds.
He received a gold medal in the 110m hurdle event at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan. In 2003, he won the bronze in the 60m hurdle event at the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham. He took the bronze medal in the 2003 World Championships in Paris in the 110m hurdles.
2004 was a historic year for Liu, as he won the gold medal in the 110 m hurdles event at the Athens Olympic games. The win was the first medal in track and field since the Olympic Games in 1984, when Zhu Jianhua won the bronze in the high jump.
After the Athens Olympic Games, he continued to compete in the 110 m hurdles events, winning the silver at the Helsinki World Championships in 2005, the gold at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, gold at the 2007 Osaka World Championships and gold at the 2008 World Indoor Championships in the 60m hurdles event.
More photos and video of Liu Xiang can be found below.