London 2012: Liu suffers heartbreak again, Bolt cruises

AFP, Tuesday 7 Aug 2012

China’s Liu Xiang repeats Beijing nightmare, collapsing to the ground at the first 110 metres hurdles

Chinese athletics icon Liu Xiang endured a dreadful repeat of his Beijing Olympics heartbreak here on Tuesday as he suffered a suspected ruptured Achilles tendon.

The 29-year-old 2004 Olympic champion came crashing to the ground at the first hurdle of the 110 metres hurdles, four years after he was unable to leave the blocks in his heat because of a similar injury.

While Liu ended his Games in agony the star of those Beijing Games, Usain Bolt, looked serene as he won his 200m heat, Jamaica's Olympic champion looking to add this title to the 100 metres crown he retained so impressively on Sunday.

In other events Ethiopian distance running great Tirunesh Dibaba looked as comfortable as Bolt as she eased into the 5,000m final, positioning herself to defend another title after her repeat triumph in the 10,000m on Friday.

The hosts' gold rush, which saw Great Britain win an historic three titles on Saturday, has dried up since and there was more disappointment for the 80,000 strong crowd.

Enigmatic triple jumper Phillips Idowu saw his chance of going one better than the silver he won in Beijing disappear as he failed to reach the final.

Idowu said he'd battle on, but the chances of Liu returning for a second time to the top level were cast into doubt by his athletics team leader Feng Shu Yong.

"An achilles injury is almost impossible to recover from fully," Feng said, adding that Liu's many fans back in China should be aware it was by no means certain they would see him again.

"It is hard to say.

"Lots of athletes get injured and come back. It depends on many factors. I hope all the fans can understand this and that anything can happen. It happens to many athletes."

Bolt, who was one of many athletes competing on Tuesday to pay tribute to Liu, was delighted with his morning canter in the heats which saw him time 20.39sec.

"This was an easy run. I am enjoying it," said the 25-year-old.

"This is my favourite event so I am looking forward to it."

His main challenger for the 200m, Yohan Blake, also negotiated his passage into the next round wityh ease, as the Jamaican who took the silver behind Bolt in the 100m won his heat in 20.38sec.

Blake, who beat Bolt in both the 100 and 200 metres in the national Olympic trials, said it was possible Bolt's three-year-old world record of 19.19sec could be under threat in the later rounds.

"The track is fast and Usain is fast so anything is possible," Blake said.

Idowu's failure will probably find him little sympathy with Charles van Commenee, the disciplinarian head coach of British athletics, who labelled the triple jumper's refusal to go to the pre-Games training camp as "bizarre".

However, there was no sign of contrition from the athlete after he bowed out.

"My main goal was to be here and be pain-free," he said.

"If I was pain-free I felt like because of the calibre of athlete I am and being such a big occasion I'd be able to pull something special out of the bag. I got one out of the two - I was pain-free, but my timing was not there.

"My home Olympic Games, my fourth Olympic Games, hasn't gone to plan. Now I just have to regroup."(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO Sportsand on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports)


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