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 Liu’s injury leaves China brokenhearted

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PostSubject: Liu’s injury leaves China brokenhearted   Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:51 am

BEIJING – The coach of the most beloved athlete in China buried his face into his hands and wept. He sobbed almost uncontrollably in front of hundreds of journalists who packed a news conference after a shocking development left the host country of these Olympics crushed.

Liu Xiang, the reigning Olympic champion in the 110-meter hurdles and China’s face of the 2008 Games, withdrew from competition Monday with what his coach and a team official said was a lingering foot injury. The moment Liu walked off the track at the National Stadium, the world got new insight into an emerging superpower long thought to be unemotional, detached and inscrutable – a perception reinforced by the stiff-faced and rigid soldiers patrolling the Olympic grounds.

We got to see China’s heart.

During a live report from the Bird’s Nest, a female broadcaster for the state-controlled television network cried twice as she relayed the details. About the lingering foot injury that apparently flared up Saturday. About his attempt to run in the first of four rounds that were expected to climax later this week with a showdown between Liu and world-record holder Dayron Robles of Cuba. About his inability to compete for the prized gold medal.

The hastily called conference and the somber tribute to Liu that followed – complete with heartstring-tugging violins and a slow-motion montage of Liu – afforded the outside world a rare glimpse behind the stern face of a country that has embraced Liu as a symbol of its hope and pride.

“I feel very sad,” said Yang Min, 28, a reporter in Beijing. “He’s worked very hard. He’s under the biggest pressure.

“He’s our hero.”

The bond between this country and Liu would be a foreign one to Westerners. U.S. swimming star Michael Phelps just completed an unprecedented feat by winning eight gold medals during the first nine days of the games. If he had pulled out due to injury, Americans would have been disappointed, but they would not have been inconsolable.

No matter how many medals Phelps wins, Liu means more to China because he stands for a burning pride.

At the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Liu, 25, became the first Asian man to win an Olympic gold medal in a sprint event. Yao Ming, the first Chinese basketball star in the NBA, carried the flag for China during the opening ceremony. But Liu carried this country’s hopes for another prized gold medal in a race long dominated by the West.

In an uncanny segue, the day after Phelps eclipsed Mark Spitz’s record for most medals won in a single Olympics, attention shifted to Liu’s first race.

During warm-ups on Monday, he grimaced as he ran up and down the track before a Chinese flag-waving crowd inside the 91,000-seat National Stadium. He still lined up with eight other competitors, crouched in the starter’s blocks and waited on the gun.

It fired twice, signaling a false start. Liu had sprung out of the blocks and pulled up short of the first hurdle. He took a few steps, ripped off his hip patch that designates lane assignments and walked off the track favoring his right foot. He headed into a tunnel leading into the bowels of the stadium.

The crowd watched in stunned silence. When it became apparent Liu was not returning, thousands of spectators streamed out of the Bird’s Nest. It was as subdued as a funeral for a head of state.

For China, these games are about more than athletics. There’s a reason the government spent almost $50 billion to build facilities and prepare to welcome the world into its once-cloistered home. This is a chance for the Chinese to put their best foot forward and prove they deserve the respect and stature of a superpower.

Liu represented those hopes.

Until 2004, no Chinese man had proved swift enough to keep up with the rest of the world in the sprints that have traditionally been the Olympics’ marquee events. Liu changed all that.

His picture graced the cover of billboards across the city, and China has used his image to market the games. Swift enough, strong enough and agile enough to run with the world’s best hurdlers.

But it won’t happen now. About 30 minutes after Liu left the track, Chinese officials called a news conference. More than 400 journalists packed the room. Liu was not there, but officials and his coach arrived to explain what had happened.

Before answering the first question, a subdued Halping said, “I feel very bad about today’s result.”

Someone asked him what Liu had told him after withdrawing from the race.

“I just spoke to Liu Xiang outside and he’s very depressed,” Halping said through an interpreter.

A reporter asked Halping how he felt.

The coach leaned toward the microphone, then buried his face into his hands. He began to sob, stifled the tears, then broke down again, and again, and again. It was as if all of China was weeping in a display that stood in stark contrast to those stiff and stern-faced soldiers.
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PostSubject: Re: Liu’s injury leaves China brokenhearted   Tue Aug 19, 2008 2:01 am

yah i seen it was so sad
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PostSubject: Re: Liu’s injury leaves China brokenhearted   Wed Aug 20, 2008 4:49 am

yeah...a sad part for chinese people but they are on thier way for making the best...ang dami na nila gold....
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