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Huge blow for China as hurdler Liu Xiang crashes out of Olympics

Lee Jin-Man / AP

China's Liu Xiang, left, fails to clear the first hurdle in a men's 110-meter hurdles heat as he competes alongside Hungary's Balazs Baji at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London on August 7, 2012.

Daniel Ochoa De Olza / AP

Liu Xiang, second left, and Barbados' Shane Brathwaite, right, both fell at the first hurdle. Poland's Artur Noga, left, pulled up with an injury as only five men finished the race.

Daniel Ochoa De Olza / AP

The Associated Press reports — Former world-record holder and 2004 champion Liu Xiang of China stumbled into the first hurdle and fell to the track in his opening heat Tuesday, his second consecutive first-round exit in the Olympic 110-meter hurdles.

Four years ago in Beijing his Olympics ended after two full strides, when he withdrew from his preliminary heat with right foot and hamstring injuries, disappointing his country of more than 1 billion people.

Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

This time, Liu made it only as far as the initial hurdle, knocking it down. He clutched his lower right leg and stayed down for a few moments. He eventually rose and hopped on his left foot along the outside of the race route.

Daniel Ochoa De Olza / AP

When he got to the spot of the 10th and final hurdle, he hobbled over to kiss it, then continued hopping until he got to the finish line.

Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images

Another hurdler, Balazs Baji of Hungary, went over and raised Liu's hand in the air, as if to signify he was the winner. Then other competitors went over to offer handshakes of condolences. Eventually, Liu got into a wheelchair and was taken away from the track. Read the full story.

Olivier Morin / AFP - Getty Images

Previously on PhotoBlog: A moment of true sportsmanship, as Japan consoles a defeated France

Click for more from the 2012 summer games in London.

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