China's Liu Xiang falls as Poland's Artur Noga and Hungary's Balazs Baji compete in their men's 110m hurdles round 1 heat at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium (Photo : Reuters)
China's Liu Xiang's Olympics dream stumbles as he reached his first hurdle, literally.
Xiang, who previously won gold in the 110-meter hurdles at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics, failed to qualify to the semifinals after falling on the first hurdle of the race.
The 29-year-old suffered an injury to his foot but decided to still finish the race. Since he couldn't jump over the hurdles, he went to the side of the track and hopped to the finish line. Two other hurdlers, Britain's Andrew Turner and Spain's Jackson Quinonez, would help Xiang to a wheelchair.
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The athlete faced a similar injury back at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics where he was forced to withdraw due to an Achilles tendon injury
According to a member of China's track and field team, Feng Shuyong, tests confirmed the initial diagnosis that he had torn his right Achilles tendon.
Reports of an injured Xiang first started at the London Grand Prix last month when he withdrew from the competition despite finishing first in the semifinals.
According to the AFP, Xiang might have suffered another injury during training in Germany.
"His back problem is nothing to worry about, but his foot injury which has flared up is worrying me," said his coach Sun Haiping to Xinhua agency last Friday.
Shuyong said Xiang showed no sign of risking a major injury leading up to the London Olympics. He was quick to note that the hurdler has no intentions of retiring.
Xiang wasn’t the only one to not finish the race, as Shane Brathwaite of Barbados and Poland’s Artur Noga failed to complete it. Senegal’s Moussa Dembele had a worse result, as he was disqualified.