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BEIJING 2008 : BEST OF OUR BLOG

Injury stops Liu Xiang of China

August 18, 2008|Philip Hersh; Kevin Baxter

Selected entries from The Times' Olympic blog, Ticket to Beijing:

A case of national anxiety turned into what will be thought of as a national disappointment when Liu Xiang, the most popular Chinese Olympic athlete, withdrew from the Olympic high hurdles this morning.

Liu appeared to be laboring as he warmed up for his qualifying race. He settled into the blocks, and when the gun went off, he took a few steps. When the second gun went off signaling a false start, he pulled up lame.

He limped back to the blocks and took off his numbered bib, indicating he was retiring from the race.

It was not a complete shock, as his official website has been talking about a new injury. He has missed most of this season because of a hamstring injury.

It led today's edition of the China Daily to headline, "Injured Liu vs. Terrifying Opponent," referring to Cuban Dayron Robles, who broke Liu's world record with a time of 12.87 seconds on June 12.

On Liu's English site, the runner's coach, Sun Haiping, said Liu has an inflamed Achilles' tendon.

Liu's image is plastered on billboards all over the country. His renown grew in part because he was the first Chinese athlete to win in an event that had been utterly dominated by Westerners.

Liu has not raced since May 23, when he won the hurdles in the test event competition at the Olympic Stadium in 13.18.

Sun said Liu felt sore during his training session Saturday. "What I am really worrying about is the [Thursday] final," Sun said.

-- Philip Hersh

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Childbirth talk in Olympic circles

Dara Torres acknowledged that she often felt like a stepmom or big sister to her younger -- much younger -- teammates during these Olympics Games. But the 41-year-old was surprised to hear that some of her advice had gone public.

"She was actually talking about childbirth in the ready room," relay teammate Kara Lynn Joyce said of Torres, who gave birth two years ago. "She said it was painful. Swimming is painful, but nothing compares to that."

At one point Torres even reenacted her experience -- much to her later chagrin.

"Oh my gosh, I can't believe you heard about that," she told reporters.

"I think I was asking Libby [Australia's Lisbeth Trickett] about whether she was going to have children or keep swimming," she said. "I was mimicking how you have a baby. I was pretending to be in the stirrups.

"I felt so much better after childbirth, more flexible. And I told them, 'Hey, if I can do it, you can do it.' "

-- Kevin Baxter

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