Liu Xiang eventually got up and hopped down the track to be embraced by his fellow competitors
Chinese icon Liu Xiang suffered a second successive Olympic heartbreaker Tuesday when he crashed out of the 110m hurdles as double 100m champion Usain Bolt strolled through his 200m heat.
Former Olympic champion and world record holder Liu, 29, who had to withdraw just moments before his opening heat in front of his home fans at the Beijing Games in 2008 saw his 2012 bid also last just a split second.
He ploughed into the first hurdle with his left leading leg and crashed heavily to the track.
Liu, who has been troubled by back and foot problems, eventually got up and even hopped down the track to symbolically cross the finish line where he stooped to kiss the 10th and last hurdle.
He was embraced by fellow competitors and won warm applause from the stadium packed with 80,000 stunned spectators.
Liu was helped off the track by Britain's Andy Turner and Spain's Jackson Quinonez before being taken to the Olympic Stadium medical centre in a wheelchair.
China's athletics team leader in London, Feng Shu Yong, later revealed Liu had possibly snapped his Achilles, a recurrence of a problem which had dogged the 2004 Olympic champion for years despite intensive treatment.
"The initial diagnosis from the medical staff is that he has a ruptured Achilles tendon. In the last several years he has had good medical care, but it is still there," Feng said, referring to Liu's long-standing injury problems.
"An achilles injury is almost impossible to recover from fully."
Bolt, fresh from running the second-fastest time in history to retain his 100m title on Sunday, began his bid to keep his 200m title by winning his heat in 20.39sec.
"That was an easy run. I am enjoying it," said the Jamaican star. "This is my favourite event so I am looking forward to it.
"It's getting pretty chilly. They say it should be good on Thursday for the final. We'll see. I have heard that before."
World 100m champion, and Bolt's compatriot, Yohan Blake also made it through to the next round
Meanwhile, hosts Great Britain took their gold tally to 20 for the Games after Alistair Brownlee won the men's triathlon in Hyde Park and the equestrian squad clinched team dressage gold at Greenwich.
China took their gold total to 33 with 69 total medals with gymnastics wins for Feng Zhe in men's parallel bars and Deng Linlin on the women's balance beam.
Later Tuesday, Australian world champion Sally Pearson is favourite for the women's 100m hurdles gold.
Pearson has emerged as the dominant force in women's short hurdles, racing the fourth fastest time ever (12.28sec) in winning world gold last summer.
"If it all goes to plan I should be winning, especially as my personal best is much better than theirs," she said.
Five-time Olympic champion Chris Hoy kept his bid for a history-making keirin cycling gold on track as he surged into the second round.
Hoy was bidding to overtake Steve Redgrave's haul of five golds to become the first Briton to own six Olympic golds.
Hoy equalled Redgrave's tally last week when he anchored Britain's sprint team to victory.
Britain will also be eyeing more cycling gold later through Laura Trott and Victoria Pendleton.
The men's football finalists will be decided when Mexico tackle Japan and South Korea meet Brazil.