(AsiaNews) - Chinese fans were stunned by Liu Xiang's fall in the 110 metre
hurdles heat yesterday. In Beijing, Liu had also fallen in the opening heat,
but he had won gold in Athens in 2004.
Xinhua news agency, which called the
incident a "tragedy," described Liu as a "national hero and sports icon in
China." However, amid the declarations of solidarity, comments posted on blogs
and other online sites were also critical, some voicing suspicions.
Xiang, 29, appeared to have recovered from problems to the heel that dating
back to May 2008 before the Beijing Olympics. In the months leading up to that
event, sponsors had used Liu to push for all sorts of products, with Liu
literally wrapped in the flag visible everywhere.
he crashed into the first hurdle after leaving the starting block, "aware that
1.3 billion pairs of eyes would be on him again," as he put it, history repeated
He got up, he hopped on his left foot to the final hurdle and kissed it, before
getting on a wheelchair to be wheeled away by medical staff.
at home, people cannot understand why he would run, knowing that his right
Achilles' tendon was not fully healed.
some wondered why Liu did not do warm-ups like other athletes. Others believe he
kept everything hushed up to save his publicity contracts.
Sheyong, the leader of China's athletics team, praised Liu. "He got up and
finished" the race, Feng said. "It shows that it's not all about winning, but
showing the Olympic spirit to the world.
CCTV reporter in London said propaganda authorities issued gag orders. "An
instruction was circulated among our colleagues on Monday, saying it should be
considered a victory as long as Liu showed up at the starting line."
some blogs, people had already noted that Liu was not at his best and were expecting
him to fail. Others wondered why his trainer kept the truth about the recordman's
attitude towards sport has also been criticised, especially its focus on
winning gold medals without promoting sports at all levels.
a country where only a few primary and middle schools have sports fields or
physical exercises, it is ridiculous to count on Liu to save our face,"
said Huang Jianxiang, a sports commentator, on Sina Weibo. "Liu's past glory used to be a shield to
justifying the juguo tizhi [whole
nation system], but the failure has rendered it useless today."
London, many of Liu's fellow athletes came out in favour of his presence. "It
must be hard for that to happen for the second time in a row. He's a great
athlete," said Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, adding that Liu Xiang is a