China's Liu Xiang falls while competing in the men's 110-meter… (Gabriel Bouys / AFP/Getty…)
LONDON -- Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang, who set an Olympic record while winning gold in the 110-meter hurdles in Athens but was unable to defend his title in Beijing because of an injury, had to be helped off the field Tuesday after injuring his right leg during a first-round mishap.
Competing in the sixth and final heat, Liu struck the first hurdle with his left foot, a hard collision that triggered gasps from the Olympic Stadium crowd. He then fell and apparently injured his right leg, as he tried to stand up and soon realized he couldn’t put any weight on that leg.
He was helped off the track in a wheelchair but returned to hop his way to the offending hurdle, where he stopped for a moment. Still hopping and not putting any weight on his right foot, he continued to the finish line, where one of his rivals held up his hand in tribute. Two other competitors then helped him off the field.
Liu was one of four competitors who didn't finish the heat.
He was the world's second-fastest performer in the event this season, with a time of 12.97 on May 19 that trailed only three 12.93 performances by Aries Merritt of the U.S.
Merritt had the fastest qualifying time on Tuesday, an effortless 13.07. The other two Americans in the event, Jason Richardson (13.33) and Jeff Porter (13.53) also advanced, as did world record holder Dayron Robles of Cuba (13.33).
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