Welcome to the Science of Sport, where we bring you the second, third, and fourth level of analysis you will not find anywhere else.

Be it doping in sport, hot topics like Caster Semenya or Oscar Pistorius, or the dehydration myth, we try to translate the science behind sports and sports performance.

Consider a donation if you like what you see here!

Did you know?
We published The Runner's Body in May 2009. With an average 4.4/5 stars on Amazon.com, it has been receiving positive reviews from runners and non-runners alike.

Available for the Kindle and also in the traditional paper back. It will make a great gift for the runners you know, and helps support our work here on The Science of Sport.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Beijing 2008 News Flash: Liu Xiang out with injury

Face of Beijing games out with apparent Achilles injury

Perhaps the first big shock at this year's Olympic Games comes not from a major contender testing positive for a banned substance, but instead in the form of Liu Xiang pulling out of competition even before his qualifying heat in the 110 m hurdles.

At the end of 2007 we did a fun post in the year that was in running. In it we dished out some "awards," one of which was the "Losing sleep over the future" award, and it went to Chinese hurdler and poster boy of the Olympic Games Liu Xiang. How would you like 1.3 billion countrymen and women expecting you to make the nation proud and defend your Olympic title, which by the way also happened to be China's first ever gold medal in Athletics? Well, that was what Liu was up against.

To add to his pressure the fact that young and rising Cuban star Dayron Robles broke Xiang's world record earlier this year. Xiang's form was questionable this summer, which is not necessarily a bad thing---there is such a thing as peaking too early---but one must wonder if the pressure just continued to mount as the games approached, and whether or not deep down it had anything to do with his injury.

We have no details now on the exact nature of his injury. The live images late Sunday night showed Xiang sitting down with his right Achilles/ankle propped up on a bag of ice. All we now is that he lined up for his heat, clearly in pain during the warm up and while getting in to the blocks. There was a false start, and Xiang did not even make it to the first hurdle without pulling up and then promptly removing the numbers attached to his legs. He then exited the stadium, taking the hopes and dreams of many Chinese with him---even though China has performed exceptionally well thus far in numerous events.

Robles clear favorite in 110 m hurdles

While we wish injury upon no one, the sigh of relief you heard on Sunday night was Dayron Robles when he heard the news that Xiang had pulled out, as this makes him a clear favorite for the gold. Interestingly, it also continues the trend of shake ups at the games this year. It started with Tyson Gay not qualifying for the 100 m finals, and then Asafa Powell not even featuring in that event (ok, perhaps that was not so surprising!) It continued with hot 1500 m favorite Bernard Lagat failing to qualify for the final in that event by a scant 0.02 s (he failed to make the top five in his semi-final).

So it has been an exciting start to the athletics competition this year, but not so much for the performances to date but for the attrition of favorites!



Anonymous said...

"Bernard Lagat failing to qualify for the final in that event by a scant 0.02 s (he failed to make the top four in his semi-final)."

It was top 5+2 advancing - Lagat finished sixth.

Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas said...

Hi Anonymous, and thanks for visiting The Science of Sport.

Yes, you are correct, you got me! It was indeed the top five from each semi that automatically advanced, and not the top four. I was confusing it with the sprints semis where it is the top four who advance.

The point I was trying to make was that he finished outside of the automatic qualifying spots, and was a mere 0.02 s away from filling one of the two final spots based on time.

Thanks for keeping us honest.

Kind Regards,