China’s 110m hurdles star Liu Xiang had surgery on his badly ruptured Achilles tendon as his arch-rival Dayron Robles also limped out of the London Olympics.
As China cranked up its dominance of table tennis with another clean sweep,Liu was yesterday being treated by a specialist London surgeon — who reportedly also operated on football star David Beckham.
The Chinese delegation said Liu was putting a brave face on the injury which cruelly cut short his campaign for the second Games running,and has possibly ended his career.
“He’s in pain but he’s very brave and optimistic,” spokesman Zhang Haifeng told AFP. “It’s really a sad thing but his spirit inspires young people very much.”
No update was available late on Wednesday,but Zhang said the 2004 champion would recover in the athletes village before returning to China. And in a fateful twist,Robles went down with a similar injury in Wednesday’s final.
The Cuban world record-holder hit a hurdle and pulled up clutching a hamstring,as Aries Merritt took gold ahead of American team-mate Jason Richardson and Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment.
The final comes a year after the world championships in Daegu,South Korea,when Robles was disqualified for reaching into the next lane and pulling Liu’s arm as he powered ahead. Liu was awarded silver behind Richardson.
After day 12,with 86 titles to be handed out over the last four days,China had a narrow lead at the top of the medals table with 36 golds to 34 for the United States. Third-placed Britain had 22. Led by world number one Zhang Jike,China swamped South Korea to win the men’s team table tennis,completing their collection of all four gold medals in the sport for the second Olympics running.
China’s Wu Jingyu retained her under-49kg taekwondo title,with Thailand’s Chanatip Sonkham earning bronze her country’s second medal of the Games,after Pimsiri Sirikaew in the women’s weightlifting.
Japan’s women wrestlers had a day to savour with Hitomi Obara and Kaori Icho both grappling their way to gold,doubling their country’s title count to four. Japan are now 13th on the medals table.
But there was disappointment for India’s five-time world women’s boxing champion M.C. Mary Kom,who despite high hopes had to settle for a bronze medal when she was beaten in the flyweight semi-finals by Britain’s Nicola Adams.
“My whole country was hoping for me to win a gold medal,and I am sorry I have not come back with that,” said the 29-year-old mother of twin boys,who had to move up a weight category to fight in London.
Meanwhile,North Korea reacted furiously when it was dubbed “Naughty Korea” in a medals table printed in an Australian tabloid newspaper.
“This is a bullying act little short of insulting the Olympic spirit of solidarity,friendship and progress and politicising sports,” said official news agency KCNA,calling the paper “sordid” and “foolish”.
North Korea’s women’s footballers staged an hour-long protest when,in their first game,they were pictured next to the South Korean flag on the stadium’s big screen. Organisers later apologised for the mix-up.