This has been one of the biggest sports setbacks for China from the start of the Beijing Olympics.
Liu Xiang, the 110 meters hurdles champion, on whom the hopes of China's 1.3 billion people were pinned, had to withdraw from the event following a severe injury.
Many spectators were reduced to tears witnessing the fall of their great sports icon.
At a press conference, Liu's coach explained the nature of the injury as an acute inflammation of the right Achilles tendon. "We have done everything possible. We did our best," said Sun Haiping unable to control his emotions "This is a very hard moment for all of us."
He is famous for his Gold in Athens in 2004 which also pushed China to an enviable position in the world of sports.
For many Chinese, it was like a bolt hurled from the blue, as they stared disbelievingly at the fall of a great hero.