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Pearson storms into hurdles final, more Olympic tragedy for Liu By John Bagratuni, dpa

Europe
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London (dpa) - World champion Sally Pearson of Australia stormed into the 100 metres hurdles final with a 2012 world best on Tuesday, while Chinese star Liu Xiang suffered another Olympic disaster in the men‘s morning heat over 110m.

Chinese athletics team leader Feng Shuyong told a hastily arranged news conference that Liu had likely ruptured his right Achilles tendon when he fell at the first hurdle of the heats, four years after withdrawing ahead of the heat at the Beijing Games.

"The initial diagnosis from the medical staff is that he has a ruptured Achilles tendon," Feng said.

Liu‘s injury shocked the athletics community including Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt, who eased into the 200m semi-finals two days after winning successive 100m golds.

Kenya‘s David Rudisha also made the final in the men‘s 800m, as he seeks an elusive Olympic gold to go with his 2011 world title and world record.

Pearson clocked 12.39 in light drizzle to better her mark of 12.40 from last month in Paris, but 2008 gold medallist Dawn Harper of the United States was not far behind in a personal best 12.46 into the final set for 2000 GMT.

The evening‘s other medal events are the men‘s 1,500m, discus and high-jump.

Liu, 29, underwent surgery in the United States after the 2008 incident, changed his start technique, returned in 2010 and got silver at the 2011 world championships.

But Feng said the Achilles problems had never really disappeared and that it got worse again during pre-Olympic training, when they simulated the tight Olympic schedule with three races in two days - and just two hours between the semi-finals and final scheduled for Wednesday.

"He has to simulate it in training. By doing this, the problem probably happened. He didn‘t have enough time to recover. But even in that situation we didn‘t expect it to happen like this," Feng said.

Feng said that Liu was out for the season, but not thinking of retirement. He praised his courage, saying Liu "showed true Olympic spirit."

Bolt said of Liu: "It is really hard for him because I think he is one of the best, hands down. He has shown the world he can do great things. For him to push himself and come back ... for this to happen, this is really sad for any athlete."

Meanwhile Bolt didn‘t have to break a major sweat in his 200m heat and handily advanced in 20.39 seconds, along with his Jamaican training partner Yohan Blake, who is seen as his main rival in the event. He clocked 20.38 seconds on Tuesday, one hundredth ahead of Bolt.

"That was an easy run. This is my favourite event so I am looking forward to it," said Bolt, who got another rousing welcome from the packed stadium.

The 2012 world leader Rudisha ran in his usual style from the front to win his 800m semi-final in 1:44.35, with dangerous Abubaker Kaki of Sudan also through on 1:44.51 from another semi along with the second best runner of the year, Nijel Amos of Botswana (1:44.54). dpa bag adh amh hl

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