Image: Liu Xiang
Kevin Frayer  /  AP
China's faithful anxiously watch as hurdler Liu Xiang leaves the stadium with an Achilles injury in the men's 110-meter hurdles first round heat Sunday.
msnbc.com news services
updated 8/18/2008 11:36:59 AM ET 2008-08-18T15:36:59

Chinese 110m hurdler Liu Xiang, perhaps the most celebrated athlete in China, pulled out of the event Monday morning, suffering from a strained right Achilles tendon. His withdrawal left the sold-out, hyped up Bird's Nest in stunned silence.

Liu Xiang ices his Achilles under the stadium after pulling out of the 110m hurdles. There were rumors all morning that Liu Xiang might not run. It wasn't clear if anyone in the crowd knew this, though many Chinese fans surely knew that he was suffering, as his Web site announced the fact yesterday.

Still, Liu laced up his shoes and emerged for the start of his qualifying heat, the fifth and final of the morning. As he took his warm-up hurdles, he appeared hobbled, at one point dropping to the track and appearing to stretch his legs. Still, he got up and walked back to the starting blocks to take his place. The race began with a false start, but Liu pulled up in obvious pain before the first hurdle. He was done.

That false start disqualified no one, but Liu hobbled off the track and into the tunnel. The huge crowd, which just moments before had reverberated with flag-waving and chants of "Zhong Guo Jia Yo," was silent. The heat went off without him but was an absolute afterthought.

Terrence Trammell, the American favorite running in the heat immediately before Liu, pulled up with an apparent hamstring injury and did not finish.

For four years, Liu's 110m hurdles was anticipated as the event of these Olympic Games throughout China.

In warm-ups Monday under the stadium, Liu grimaced often as he attempted strides over a set of two hurdles. After several tries, he removed his number, grabbed his backpack in disgust and shook his head at officials. He then repeatedly kicked a wall.

Liu has competed rarely this year and in June saw his world record fall to Cuba's Dayron Robles. Robles easily advanced to the second round, winning his Monday heat.

Other track and field news

Their most accomplished hurdler went down, their best sprinter went out. Instead of racking up medals, the Americans entered the fourth day of the Olympic track meet a grand disappointment in the making.

Then up stepped Stephanie Brown Trafton. Then Jenn Stuczynski. Then a trio of hurdlers.

Suddenly, a U.S. team that entered Monday with four medals and no golds had nine medals, two of them gold.

In the 400-meter hurdles, the last event of the evening, Angelo Taylor led a U.S. sweep — the first by any country since 1960. Winning silver and bronze were Kerron Clement and Bershawn Jackson.

Moments before, Stuczynski was assured of a pole vault silver. She then watched as Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva went higher and higher, culminating in a world record.

Those medals were not huge surprises.

Not so the gold by Brown Trafton, the American team’s first of these Olympics.

Considered a field filler more than a medal contender, Brown Trafton threw the discus 212 feet, 5 inches (64.74 meters) on her very first attempt — a throw that held up.

Olympic 100-meter champion Usain Bolt advanced to the second round of qualifying in the 200m.

The Jamaican didn't win his first-round 200m heat, taking it easy and finishing second to Rondell SORILLO of Trinidad and Tobago. The top three runners in each heat advance.

Bolt, who broke his own world record in the 100 by winning the gold medal in 9.69 seconds Saturday, moved a step closer to becoming the first man to complete a sprint double at the Summer Games since Carl Lewis did it in 1984.

Also advancing for the Americans were reigning Olympic 200m champion Shawn Crawford, Walter Dix, who won the 100 bronze Saturday, and Wallace Spearmon.

Reigning Olympic and world champion Jeremy Wariner and rival LaShawn Merritt have qualified for the Olympic semifinals at 400 meters.

Men's basketball

The U.S. Olympic team put away Dirk Nowitzki and Germany in a hurry.

Next up: the only team so far these Americans couldn’t blow out.

After destroying Germany 106-57 on Monday, the Americans (5-0) move on to a quarterfinal matchup Wednesday against Australia, the team that’s provided them with their toughest test in China.

The U.S. led by only seven points midway through the fourth quarter of an 87-76 exhibition victory in Shanghai two weeks ago over an Australian team that didn’t have starting center Andrew Bogut of the Milwaukee Bucks. He was resting a sore right ankle.

It’s hard to imagine a repeat of that semi-Shanghai surprise with the way the U.S. has played in Beijing.

“Nobody is going to beat them. No way, it’s just not going to happen,” Germany’s Chris Kaman said.

Not since the Dream Team rumbled through Las Ramblas 16 years ago in Barcelona has a team been this dominant. The Americans won their pool games by 32.2 points and averaged 103 points.

Women's soccer

Angela Hucles scored a goal in each half to lead the United States to a 4-2 soccer win over Japan and another Olympic final against Brazil.

The U.S. had to rally from an early deficit after Japan’s Yukari Kinga opened the scoring in the 16th minute, but Hucles netted the equalizer from the six-meter (yard) line in the 41st and Lori Chalupny put the Americans ahead after beating two defenders in the 44th.

Heather O’Reilly added to the lead with a long-range shot in the 70th, and Hucles closed the scoring Monday in the 80th with a crossing shot that caught Japan goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto by surprise.

Japan scored again with Eriko Arakawa in injury time.

Baseball

The U.S. team has beat China 9-1 in a game that featured three ejections.

Jake Arrieta struck out seven in six shutout innings Monday night and Taylor Teagarden and Nate Schierholtz each hit two-run doubles for the U.S.

China’s top player, catcher Wang Wei, was knocked out of the game with a left knee injury following a collision at the plate with Matt LaPorta in the fifth.

After Schierholtz made a hard slide home against backup catcher Yang Yang on a sacrifice fly in the sixth — and Yang was held back from Schierholtz by teammates — China manager Jim Lefebvre was ejected for arguing about the rough play.

Chinese reliever Chen Kun and China pitching coach Steven Ontiveros were tossed when Chen plunked LaPorta in the head to start the seventh.

Beach Volleyball
Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers are through to the semifinals.

The Americans defeated Germany's Eric Koreng and David Klemperer 21-13, 25-23 in the quarterfinals of the men's Olympic beach volleyball tournament Monday. Dalhausser and Rogers advanced to Wednesday's semifinals, where they will face Georgia.

Georgia's Renato Gomes and Jorge Terceiro defeated the Netherlands' Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil 21-19, 21-19. After the victory, Terceiro ran through the crowd, up the stands and cheered in front of the Georgia flag hanging near the top of the stadium.

The 2007 world champions controlled the match early against the Germans. Dalhausser and Rogers jumped out to a 10-4 lead en route to winning the first set 21-13.

Koreng and Klemperer took an early 8-5 lead in the second set before the U.S. rallied to tie the stanza at 8-8. Germany held an 18-15 advantage before the Americans put together a 3-0 run to even the match. The stanza was tied at 23-23 before Dalhausser and Rogers closed it out at 25-23.

The solid quarterfinal victory was a change from the American's round of 16 match, where they had to come back to defeat Switzerland. On Saturday, Dalhausser and Rogers won the first set 21-16 before dropping the second 23-21. They trailed Martin Laciga and Jan Schnider 6-0 in the decisive third set before coming back to win the stanza 15-13.

Later Monday, the No. 2 U.S. men's team of Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal were to take on the defending Olympic champions, Ricardo Santos and Emanuel Rego of Brazil in the evening quarterfinal session.

On Sunday, the women's team of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh defeated Brazil's Larissa Franca and Ana Paula Connelly to advance to Tuesday's semifinals. The second U.S. team of Elaine Youngs and Nicole Branagh were eliminated from the tournament when they lost to China's Xue Chen and Zhang Xi in the quarterfinals.

Equestrian

The U.S. won the gold medal in team jumping, knocking out Canada, which took silver. Norway won bronze.

The U.S. got clear rounds from their first three riders in the jump-off. One Canadian rider knocked down a fence, and since Canada only had three riders to the Americans’ four, that clinched the U.S. gold.

The U.S. also won team jumping in 2004 in Athens and has two returning combinations on the 2008 team, McLain Ward on Sapphire and Beezie Madden on Authentic.

Ian Millar, riding in his ninth Olympics, forced the jump-off with a clear round on In Style. The team silver is Millar’s first Olympic medal.

© 2013 msnbc.com

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