All posts by Mark Dreyer

Oscar Pistorius winning three gold medals at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing

In light of recent events, it’s interesting to look back at a feature I did on Oscar Pistorius in 2008. I interviewed him twice on the night he won his third Paralympic gold medal – once immediately after he crossed the finish line, then again an hour or two later after he had got his breath back.

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Wrestling’s Olympic snub: winners and losers

Wrestling has been in the Olympics for more than 2,600 years but looks almost certain to be axed from 2020 onwards after the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommended that wrestling no longer be included in the list of core sports. It has a final chance to save itself, but only one of baseball/softball, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding, wushu and now wrestling will be chosen for inclusion when the Committee meets again in May.

So who loses out and who will likely gain from this?

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Weekly Wrap: Football, football, table tennis and more football

Huddersfield Town in China farce

This is just ridiculous. English football club Huddersfield Town has announced plans to “make its first foray into China as part of the Club’s wider International Development plan.”

From what I can work out from their convoluted press release, the club, who currently sit 18th in the Championship (i.e. near the bottom of English football’s second tier) are taking a delegation of businessmen to China for a week in April to explore opportunities because, you know, everyone loves football.

Continue reading Weekly Wrap: Football, football, table tennis and more football

Chinese firm sponsors…. Australian rugby league team?

Chinese TV and electronics brand Changhong has announced a one-year shirt sponsorship deal with Australian rugby league team Parramatta Eels. Changhong’s first major sports sponsorship will see the company’s logo appear on the back of the Eels’ playing jerseys for the 2013 National Rugby League (NRL) season. The Changhong name will also appear on the goal posts at the Eels’ 20,000-capacity Parramatta Stadium as well as signage around the ground. As you might expect, there will also be Changhong TVs all over the venue.

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Manchester United’s Chinese cash cow

Hong Kong’s lucky, lucky football fans will catch a glimpse of Manchester United’s triallists, youth team players and kit men on July 29th when they play Kitchee FC at Hong Kong stadium.

Hong Kong’s reigning champions announced the news this week with Man Utd club ambassador Peter Schmeichel making all the right noises about it being a serious game and an important part of the club’s pre-season plans, so fans, he said, should snap up tickets fast.

Those tickets, which go on sale later this month, will be priced between HK$390-990 (with students and old folk eligible for a slight reduction). That’s a lot of money to see a team that won’t resemble anything like the Manchester United the fans all know.

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What’s next for Chinese football?

Here’s my weekly Sports Talk column from the Global Times, entitled “Star exits don’t matter in bigger picture”

With all the negative headlines surrounding the recent departures of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, it is important to keep some perspective about where this leaves Chinese soccer.

Was it disappointing? Yes, but their exits came as no surprise. The pair had long been rumored to be on their way out, and they are hardly the first foreign players to have left before fulfilling their contracts.

It is far more embarrassing, though, for the club and its flamboyant owner, Zhu Jun, an Internet entrepreneur whose ambitions appear to have wildly outsized his bank balance.

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Soccer match-fixing villains: ringleaders of Asian origin

Mafia bosses, triads, kungfu gangs, invisible ninjas, Samurai swordsmen. Presumably that’s what Europol meant it said “ringleaders of Asian origin” had conspired to fix nearly 700 soccer matches for illegal betting gains. Europe’s police unit was woefully light on details when it announced the news this week so we can only speculate about what exactly has taken place.

Singapore’s Dan Tan, for whom Interpol has issued an arrest warrant, appears to be the major villain of the piece, but Singaporean police have said he’s as good as innocent, so don’t hold your breath.

Is anyone shocked by the match-fixing charges? The biggest surprise to me is that only 2 million euros in corrupt payments were alleged to have been made. Sure, that’s not an insignificant amount of money, but spread out over 680 matches, it’s an average of 2,940 euros per fixed game. Each game has at least one lead actor, but in many cases, two, three, four or more players will be ‘on the take’ and that doesn’t leave a whole load of euros to go around.

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Weekly Wrap: F1, NBA, Tennis, MMA

Ferrari sign first Chinese sponsor

Weichai-193x97_070114Ferrari’s Formula One team has signed a four-year deal with Weichai Power. Somewhat surprisingly given Ferrari 20+ year history in China and the importance of the Chinese market, it is Ferrari’s first ever Chinese sponsor. Weichai, as I’m sure you know, produces mechanical components for heavy-duty vehicles, including buses.

Weichai Power’s parent company, the Weichai Group, already has Italian links: the company bought a majority stake in luxury yacht manufacturer Ferretti Group last year.

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Friday Fun: Myanmar stacks the deck with wildcards

It’s normally Myanmar’s politics that get the international spotlight, but this week it has been their bizarre sporting choices. The new Burmese capital Naypyidaw will host the 27th Southeast Asian Games later this year and, perhaps fittingly, they’ve chosen some new sports. Vovinam, tarungderajat, kempo and chinlone are all on the agenda and if you haven’t heard of them, you’re not alone.

In fact, most of the other nations are pissed.

Charoen Wattanasin, vice president of the Thai National Olympic Committee, complained that regulations allow for eight traditional sports, not the 14 selected by the hosts:

“Nine out of the 14 are martial arts. They are — well, I can’t even remember their names.”

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