Liu Xiang, China's most famous athlete and best hope for Olympic track gold, withdrew from the Beijing Games today after an achilles injury left him unable to run the opening heats of the 110-meter hurdles. Thursday's final of the hurdles was the most anticipated event of these Olympics in the host country, as Liu was expected to defend his title in front of 91,000 at the Bird's Nest and an estimated 900 million viewers on TV.
Yao Ming might have carried the flag at the Opening Ceremony, but Liu is said to be China's most revered athletic hero. It's said to be impossible to walk a block in Beijing without seeing Liu's face on a billboard, newspaper, bus or store window. His surprising win in Athens four years ago made Liu a national icon and hopes were high in China that he could duplicate his success in Beijing.
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