Olympic Hurdler Liu Xiang Blows Out Achilles, But Finishes Race [Video]


The epitome of sportsmanship was on display today at the 2012 London Olympics.

Olympic Champion Liu Xiang injured his Achilles today in the first heat of the 110-meter hurdles but courageously finished the race on one leg. The inspirational, never-say-die moment was captured on video (below).

The Washington Post reports that Xiang was undaunted:

He had picked himself up off the track after falling and tried to head to the nearest exit. But he was directed back to the race area, so he struggled to cover the length of backstretch the only way he could, using his left leg.

When Liu got to where the 10th and final hurdle stood, he went over to it, leaned forward and kissed the piece of equipment. After finally making it across the finish line on that left leg, long after the race was over, he was greeted by another hurdler, Balazs Baji of Hungary, who went over and raised Liu’s hand in the air, as if to signify he was the winner.

Liu Xiang won the gold in the event in the 2004 Athens Olympics, but an Achilles injury forced him to withdraw from the 2008 Beijing Games. Xiang was the first Chinese man to win an Olympic gold medal in track and field competition and is bona fide superstar in that country.

According to the New York Times, the preliminary diagnosis is an Achilles tendon tear, the same injury that befell him in the 2008 Olympics:

Feng Shuyong, head of the Chinese track and field team, later explained that the initial diagnosis was that Liu had ruptured his right Achilles tendon again, perhaps on the takeoff for that first hurdle. But Feng indicated that further medical confirmation was required.

Watch Liu Xiang finish the 110-meter heat despite his injury to a thunderous stadium ovation:

Here is the Chinese broadcast of Liu Xiang’s injury in the 110-meter hurdles:

[Image credit: Erik van Leeuwen]