Liu Xiang Hops to the Finish Line

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Did you see Chinese Olympian Liu Xiang stumble on his first hurdle in the London Games earlier this week? Even if you didn’t, chances are you’ve heard about it by now.

JEWEL SAMAD/Getty Images/from

Liu Xiang, who won gold in the 2004 Athens’ 110 meter hurdles event (a 12.87 world-record performance), suffered an injury to his achilles tendon shortly after, rendering him unable to compete like he once did. In the 2008 Olympic games, he walked off the track after a false start by one of his competitors, dashing China’s hope for a gold. He was back now in London, with the weight of his country on his shoulders, and as soon as the gun went off, Xiang stumbled, knocking over the first hurdle and clutching his leg in agony.

Xiang struggled to get up, but finally did, hopping on his good leg off the track. But just as he was about to go into the locker room, Xiang returned to the track, hopping alongside it all the way to the finish line – stopping first to kiss the final Olympic hurdle he never got a chance to jump over.

Though China’s hopes for a gold medal in this event are once again out the window, the entire world has joined together in support of Xiang and his inspirational hurdle performance. At the end, two of his competitors ran to him, Great Britain’s Andrew Turner and Spain’s Jackson Quinonez, and put their arms around him, helping him walk off the track.

He may not have won a medal, but Xiang has won the hearts of athletes and runners everywhere.

Read more about Liu Xiang here.