Weekly Wrap: Michael Phelps & T.I.C.

Phelps loses his balls

Image“T.I.C.  This is China. It’s just a completely different world over here.”

That was Michael Phelps’ assessment after playing golf with Matt Kuchar at Mission Hills golf club in Haikou. He kept he temper remarkably well, despite, hole-after-hole, losing his ball to Chinese fans hellbent on snagging a souvenir. Admittedly, as the video shows, he’s not the straightest hitter, but even when he nails the middle of the fairway, the ball is gone by the time he gets there.

“Someone picked it up and had a pen for me to sign it.”

Classic stuff. The event was from last year, but has just been released as part of the Hank Haney Project on the Golf Channel. Yahoo Sports says that Phelps had to coin the phrase “TIC”, but those of us who live here know that it’s been around a while, and comes in useful on more than the odd occasion.

Chinese golfer snags shoe deal

In other golf news, China’s best male golfer, Wu Ashun, has signed a deal with Danish shoe brand ECCO. Wu is the world number 180 (yup, that’s good enough to be the best in China right now), but the 27-year-old was outside the world’s top 1,000 less than a year ago and has already qualified to play this year’s (British) Open Championship, so his star is clearly on the rise.

King David

Interesting interview here with Jeff Slack, IMG’s senior vice president of football, on David Beckham’s impending visit to China, but Slack goes perhaps a tad too far when he describes the trip as roughly equivalent to a “state visit”.

Manny is now officially a Rhino

US baseball slugger Manny Ramirez has arrived in Kaohsiung after signing with the EDA Rhinos in Taiwan’s professional baseball league. He’ll get $25,000 a month to play for the team, or about 75 times less than he raked in at his peak. The season kicks off on March 27, by which time it’s hoped Manny’s work permit will have been approved.

Manny the RhinoBut Kaohsiung will be a massive culture shock – even if there will be more fans than turned up to see China at the World Baseball Classic recently. The southern city is a far cry from Taipei in terms of excitement and you have to wonder if he’ll last till the end of the season in November.

Sailing in Sanya

Sanya’s quest to be the Hawaii of the East got another (small) boost with the news that the Volvo Ocean Race will return in 2014-15 after a successful stop there during the 2011-12 race. It will be the fourth of 10 stops, spaced between Abu Dhabi and Auckland.

China has been represented in the race since 2008-09, when there was a stop at Qingdao, and hundreds of thousands of fans saw the action at the 2011-12 race at Sanya, which joins Recife (Brazil), Abu Dhabi, Auckland, Itajai (Brazil again), Rhode Island and Lisbon as confirmed destinations for the event.

Chinese still love their badminton

Badminton may have taken a bit of a knock worldwide after the bizarre sight of teams playing to lose at the Olympics, but here in China, the sport’s popularity has never been better. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has signed four-year sponsorship deals with Red Bull China and sportswear company Li-Ning.

The deals cover all BWF major events until 2016, including August’s world championship in Guangzhou. Li-Ning, which, as previously noted in these pages, has been having a tough time of late, will supply shuttlecocks and court mats at all the events. Also previously noted in these pages: Red Bull in China is not carbonated.

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