Liu Xiang’s Dramatic Withdrawal / Pullout From Olmypic
Liu Xiang pulled out due to injuries
Name: Liu Xiang 刘翔
Born: 13 July 1983
Birthplace: Shanghai (China)
ATTENDANCE AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES
Liu Xiang pullout a blow to advertisers
BEIJING (AP): Hurdler Liu Xiang‘s surprise departure from the Olympics was a blow to advertisers including Coca Cola and Nike that made the 25-year-old hurdler a star of campaigns aimed at Chinese consumers.
“His marketing value has been seriously diminished,” said Chris Renner, president for China of sports marketing agency Helios Partners.
Liu has become one of China’s most familiar faces, appearing in advertisements on TV, billboards and public buses for Coca Cola Co., Nike Inc., Chinese computer maker Lenovo Group and telephone company China Mobile Ltd.
Liu’s endorsements have made him one of China’s richest athletes, bringing in 163 million yuan (US$23.8 million) last year, according to Forbes magazine.
He ranked No. 2 on its list of China’s most powerful celebrities, behind basketball star Yao Ming.
Liu Xiang at the Olympics on Monday – AP
Nike plans to continue showing television commercials in China featuring Liu, said a company spokesman, Derek Kent.
Asked whether Liu’s advertising value had declined, Kent said, “He’s an icon here in China. He has a very bright future.”
On Monday, state TV broadcast a Nike commercial featuring Liu just hours after he pulled out of the first heat of the 110-meter hurdles due to leg pain.
It showed Liu getting into starting blocks and the company slogan, “Just Do It.” With Liu out, Nike’s advertising loses some of its punch, Renner said.
“If anybody takes a hit from it, it’s certainly Nike, simply because they’re all about performance, whereas the others are about brand image,” he said.
“Nike’s all about, you don’t win silver, you lose gold. With that attitude, it’s much tougher for them, because he was certainly the cornerstone for their program.”
Advertisers that want to expand in China’s fast-growing consumer market have spent heavily to build high-profile campaigns around its Olympians. Others include Yao, who is playing for the Chinese basketball team, and divers Guo Jingjing and Wu Minxia.
But Liu was seen as the most valuable.
Softspoken and boyish, the 25-year-old was a national hero after winning the 110-meter hurdles at Athens in 2004.
While even with Yao the Chinese basketball team was thought unlikely to take gold, Liu was expected to dominate the Beijing games by repeating his triumph.
Coach Sun Haiping, who broke down in tears at a news conference as he discussed Liu’s withdrawal, suggested the public exposure added to pressure on him.
“Whenever he goes out, he sees his own picture in the streets,” Sun said.
A Coca Cola spokeswoman, Christina Lau, said the company will continue to use Liu in marketing.
But she declined to give details of advertising plans or say whether Liu’s role would change after his injury.
Liu was one of a “Chinese dream team” of Olympians who appeared on a special edition Coca Cola can issued in China last year.
“We will continue to count on Liu Xiang as an ambassador for our company and our brand because his achievements both on and off the field will continue to inspire fans and consumers throughout China,” Lau said.
Liu was the only Chinese competitor among 11 athletes sponsored by Lenovo in its “Olympic Champions” program.
Lenovo spokesman Bob Page said Liu’s photo would appear on brochures and posters released through the autumn but he said he had no information on what would happen after that.
Nike has run full-page newspaper ads in China showing athletes who won gold medals this week, including the diver Wu.
On Tuesday, Nike published the same newspaper ad showing Liu – the first non-medalist of the series.
The company said it would appear in at least seven newspapers in Beijing, Shanghai and other cities, as well as on Web sites.
“It’s about picking yourself up when you’re down and coming back stronger,” Kent said.
Source : TheStar
Liu: Unbearable pain forced me out of Olympics
BEIJING (AP): Liu Xiang, China’s great hope for track glory at the Beijing Games, said he was sorry for his dramatic withdrawal from the Olympics but that he had no choice because pain from a foot injury became unbearable.
“There’s so many people concerned about me and who support me. I feel very sorry. But there’s really nothing I could do,” a downcast, disconsolate Liu told China Central Television in an interview aired Tuesday.
A day earlier, Liu withdrew from his heat in the 110-meter hurdles, shocking and disappointing millions of Chinese who wanted to see him defend his Olympic title at home.
Liu appeared pale and tired, wearing a plain white T-shirt rather than the flashy red that has characterized the uniform of China’s athletes at the games.
A drop of perspiration clung to the corner of his left eyebrow as he spoke in a steady voice against a white background.
The official Xinhua News Agency said CCTV recorded the interview Monday night and showed parts of it Tuesday for the first time.
The 25-year-old Liu won China’s first Olympic gold medal on the track in Athens four years ago, and became a superstar to rival NBA hero Yao Ming at home and a posterboy worth millions for the Beijing Games.
His surprise withdrawal on Monday shocked China.
His coach was among those who wept openly.
China’s communist leaders sent a message of support to Liu and his team that was printed Tuesday on the front page of Chinese newspapers – a sign of recognition of the athlete’s popularity in China.
“I didn’t feel right when I was warming up before the race,” Liu said, in Xinhua’s translation of his comments.
“I knew my foot would fail me. I felt painful when I was just jogging.”
He talked about running a competitive time just two weeks ago.
“I didn’t know why things turned out this way,” he said.
“I wanted to hang on. But I couldn’t. It was unbearable. If I had finished the race, I would have risked my tendon. I could not describe my feeling at that moment.”
Speculation swirled for weeks that Liu was injured, and he trained in seclusion before he first appeared at the Bird’s Nest on Monday.
In his warmup, Liu grimaced through clenched teeth and limped gingerly after clearing two hurdles, but took to the blocks anyway for the first heat of the event for which he was the favorite.
When the starter’s gun fired, Liu launched out of the blocks but started hobbling immediately after the gun fired again to signal a false start by a different hurdler.
Rather than go back to the blocks, he headed inside the stadium.
Team doctors applied traditional Chinese medicine treatments to bring down the swelling on Liu’s Achilles tendon after he returned to the Olympic village on Monday, according to Liu’s Web site, which had no further details.
In the interview, Liu signaled he feared doing more damage to his damaged tendon, but vowed he would return to competition.
“I know I have the ability, once my foot recovered,” Liu said, according to a translation of the interview by The Associated Press.
“Now the most important thing is to heal my injury. I still have a chance next year, after all I’m still at the peak. I must be optimistic, and I shouldn’t blame everyone and everything but not myself. I will not easily give up.”
Vice President Xi Jinping, the most-senior Communist Party leader overseeing the games, sent a message to the General Administration of Sport on Monday expressing sympathy and encouragement for Liu.
Xi is widely viewed as the heir to President Hu Jintao.
The country’s leaders are paying attention to Liu’s injury, and hope he is able to quickly return to health, said the message, which was printed on the front page of the People’s Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party, as well as other papers.
“We all understand that Liu quit the race due to injury,” Xi said.
“We hope he will relax and focus on recovery. We hope that after he recovers, he will continue to train hard and struggle harder for the national glory.”
Liu’s sponsors also signaled full support for their star athlete, taking out full-page ads in English- and Chinese-language papers and running spots on television.
“Love the glory. Love the pain. Love sport even when it breaks your heart,” said part of one Nike ad, over a photo portrait of a clear-eyed, unsmiling Liu looking directly into the camera lens.
Martial arts movie star Jackie Chan also expressed his support, writing on his Web site that he had worried before the games about the tremendous pressure on Liu because “he’s China’s young hero and the hopes of the people rest on his shoulders.”
“As I watched this terrible turn of events on my television, I was tremendously shocked and saddened,” wrote Chan, the Hong Kong-born action star who is in Beijing for the games.
“My heart went out to Liu Xiang for his disappointment. I hope he will feel everyone’s love and support during this difficult time.”
Source : TheStar
Liu Xiang’s dramatic withdrawal stuns the Bird’s Nest
THE biggest roar of the Beijing Olympics froze in the throats of 91,000 people in the National Stadium yesterday when Liu Xiang, China’s main hope for athletics gold, pulled up injured and withdrew from the 110m hurdles.
Liu Xiang has shouldered massive expectations since becoming China’s first male Olympic track champion four years ago and his duel with new world record holder Dayron Robles of Cuba was expected to be one of the highlights of the Games.
But he came into the Games struggling with a long-standing Achilles injury and a hamstring strain, and felt more pain while warming up in the morning.
Sun Haiping (right), coach of Liu Xiang, cries as he leaves a news conference at the National Stadium Monday. – Reuters
When he left the blocks in the last of yesterday’s heats, which was signalled a false start, he pulled up limping.
To the intense disappointment of the crowd and millions of TV-watching Chinese, he limped away into the bowels of a stadium, which was supposed to be his to rule.
Double Olympic silver medallist Terrence Trammell of the United States also pulled up with a hamstring injury, seemingly clearing the path to gold for Robles in Thursday’s final.
Liu Xiang’s coach for 12 years, Sun Haiping, broke down and wept in an emotional news conference, which even left Chinese journalists in tears.
“The problem today is his foot, it’s not clear exactly when it began but it is six or seven-years-old. It was there before the 2004 Athens Games and it has been coming and going,” Haiping said.
“It’s the end of the Achilles tendon in his right foot. I’m afraid he won’t be able to compete before the end of the year … he can barely walk. He was in tears, he’s very depressed.”
Feng Shuyong, the head coach of the Chinese athletics team said: “Liu Xiang would not have withdrawn unless the pain was intolerable and there was no other way out.
“Until last Saturday, he was in good shape. We did all we could. I think all the Chinese people will understand this situation and will encourage him to come back to the track.”
“This morning he felt the pain intensify. Even though he felt the pain he decided to compete in the first heat.”
Liu Xiang’s stunningly anti-climatic departure left the stadium in gloom after what had been a lively morning of qualifying, which included Usain Bolt’s return to the track two days after his world record victory in the 100m to begin his bid for the cherished sprint double by easing through the opening heats of the 200m. – Reuters
Source : TheStar