Bolt qualifies in 200 at Olympic Stadium
LONDON—One former Olympic champion lasted only a few meters while another ran leisurely down the track in his first steps towards a second straight golden sprint double.
A third Olympian today swam, cycled and ran more than 50 kilometres and still had the energy to saunter across the finish line, a Union Jack wrapped around him.
Former world-record holder and 2004 Olympic champion Liu stumbled into the first hurdle and fell to the track in his opening heat of the London Games on Tuesday, his second consecutive first-round exit in the 110-metre hurdles.
Four years ago in Beijing, Liu’s Olympics ended after two full strides, when he withdrew from his preliminary heat with right foot and hamstring injuries.
“That’s two Olympics in a row he’s limped off with an Achilles problem—I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy,” said British runner Andrew Turner, who won the heat that Liu failed to finish and helped to carry Liu off the track.
Feng Shuyong, the head coach of the Chinese athletics team, said the injury was similar to the one he suffered four years ago.
“I feel really sad because he has worked very hard to get back to the level he was at before as champion,” Feng said.
Asked whether the 29-year-old Liu mentioned retiring, Feng replied: “It is not the time to talk about that.”
There will also be more disappointment in China, where Liu is a national hero. The international edition of the China Daily newspaper’s headline on a front-page pre-race story Tuesday read: “Liu ready to atone for 2008 disaster.” Instead, it was more of the same four years later.
So far, more of the same as well for Bolt. Two nights after winning gold in the 100, Bolt easily won his qualifying heat, glancing to his right and left as he trotted past the finish line in 20.39 seconds.
That was well outside the world record of 19.19 he set at the 2009 world championships, but one that could be in danger of being broken in the semifinals and final on Thursday.
“It was good. Got to take it easy,” Bolt said.
The news wasn’t good for Phillips Idowu of Britain, the Beijing silver medallist in the triple jump. Hampered by injuries, Idowu failed to finish in the top 12 and did not advance to the final.
Brownlee gave Britain’s impressive gold medal total a boost when he won the men’s triathlon in a time of 1 hour, 46 minutes, 25 seconds on a picturesque course through Hyde Park and The Serpentine lake.
The British triathlete grabbed a flag from a spectator several hundred meters from the finish line and when he noticed he had a healthy lead over the competition, slowed down to appreciate the moment and stopped momentarily at the finish line before breaking the victory tape.
Javier Gomez of Spain finished second while Brownlee’s younger brother Jonathan took the bronze.
The older Brownlee—he’s 24, Jonathan 22—adds the Olympic title, which is Britain’s first Olympic medal in triathlon, to his world and European crowns. He was among the leaders after the 1,500-meter swim and 43-kilometre bike ride, but broke away from Gomez in the 10-kilometre run to cruise to victory.
The gold was Britain’s 19th of these games and helped solidify its position in third place in the gold race behind the United States and China.
In another early gold medal, Dorian van Rijsselberge of the Netherlands won the men’s RS-X windsurfing event. The Dutch windsurfer came into the medal race with gold mathematically assured, knowing he only had to turn up and compete—even if he finished last—to clinch the victory.
Marina Alabau of Spain’s first gold in the women’s RS-X windsurfing race.
Later Tuesday, Victoria Pendleton will seek to extend Britain’s dominance at the London Velodrome in the individual sprint on the last day of track cycling.
If Pendleton reaches the final as expected, she will likely meet her longtime Australian rival Anna Meares for the pair’s last race. Pendleton is retiring after the Olympics.
Chris Hoy competes in the keirin and could bring his personal Olympic gold medal tally to six if he wins, taking him beyond British rower Steve Redgrave.
Four gold medals will be handed out on the final day of the artistic gymnastics competition: men’s parallel bars and horizontal bar and the women’s beam and floor.
Back at the Olympic Stadium for the evening session, medals will be contested in the men’s high jump, and discus, the women’s 100-meter hurdles and the men’s 1,500.