Dominic Fitzsimmons
Aug 18, 2008

Liu Xiang injury rocks sponsors

BEIJING - An injury to China's biggest athletics star, Liu Xiang has halted his defence of the 110m hurdles Olympic title before it even started, leaving a large roster of sponsors without their day in the sun.

Liu Xiang injury rocks sponsors
The Athens 2004 hurdles champion hurt his Achilles tendon during a false start by another athlete, pulling up after just a few metres and hobbling from the track in front of a capacity crowd stunned into silence.

As the Games face of Nike, Coca-Cola, Visa, China Mobile and Yili, Liu earned a reported 163.2 million yuan (US$23.9 million) in 2007, propelling him to third on Forbes’ Famous Chinese People list. However, his failure on the track will limit the amount of exposure these sponsors gain.

“There has been so much pressure on [Liu]. Over the past couple of weeks the Chinese press have been guardedly telling the public that he was not right and he had a problems with his [fitness],” notes Mark Thomas of Shanghai-based sports marketing firm S2M.

But according to Thomas, Liu’s sponsors will not be too worried about his injury, having already had their money’s worth out of him in the run-up to the Games: “A large amount of value has already been obtained. The success of sponsorship based on him is not a failure because he did not run - a win would have been the icing on the cake.”
Campaign China

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