Category Archives: Swimming

Megalomaniacal managers manufacture medal mania

Here’s a look back at last’s month National Games, held in China every four years. I’ve written before about the ludicrous medal system that meant Heilongjiang province had amassed 43 medals before the Games even kicked off and how Sun Yang effectively racked up 11 medals. But the reason for all this medal mania is largely down to local sports officials who assume (usually correctly) that their promotion prospects depend on a nice haul of metal from their athletes, sort of like a sporting parallel to how local governments seek inflated GDP numbers. This leads to all sorts of tricks, including the trading of athletes between provinces. Here’s an extract:

ImageMengke Bateer is one of Inner Mongolia’s most famous sporting sons – sporting or otherwise. But the first Chinese basketball player to win an NBA Championship is the ultimate homer, representing represented host province Shandong Province in 2009 as well as host provinceand Liaoning Province in 2013. How do Inner Mongolians feel when they see him representing another province instead of their own? What do those in Shandong or Liaoning think when they know that they have sporting mercenaries instead of locals representing them?

Full article is here.

Sun Yang wins 10 golds, 1 bronze at National Games

Remember how the medal tally system at China’s National Games is ridiculous, with certain performances from nearly four years ago being converted into medals that actually count at this event? Well, this is what happens. According to the official rules for counting medals, swimming star Sun Yang has won 11 medals for Zhejiang, 10 of them gold. Here’s how:

Photo credit Victor Puig,

Continue reading Sun Yang wins 10 golds, 1 bronze at National Games

Is Ye Shiwen back?

A little over a month ago, 17-year-old Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen was in pieces. The reigning Olympic champion in both the 200 and 400 IM had failed to win a medal in either race at the World Championships in Barcelona, and Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu had reclaimed her position as the medley queen.

But things are looking up for Ye. She won both events in Shenyang at the Chinese National Games, but more importantly her times were competitive:

A tired Ye Shiwen after victory in the 400 IM
A tired Ye Shiwen after victory in the 400 IM

Continue reading Is Ye Shiwen back?

Medal tally, scandals turn China’s National Games into a joke

The far northeastern province of Heilongjiang came into China’s National Games with 43 medals already in the bank. Yes, you read that right. 17 gold medals were “won” before the official start of the Games, and only one of those was due to an event being scheduled ahead of the opening ceremony. That’s because some bright spark had the idea of converting medals from previous events into medals that actually count at the National Games:

Everyone’s a winner at China’s National Games!

Continue reading Medal tally, scandals turn China’s National Games into a joke

Weekly Wrap: Golden Sun, missing mojos, and feng shui in the EPL

Sun Yang won his third individual gold medal at the FINA World Championships, adding the 1,500m title to his wins in the 400m and 800m. He kept pace with Canadian Ryan Cochrane for most of the race, and then blasted away in the final two lengths. It was well outside his own world record pace, but he never looked troubled. What’s more, he could easily have had a fourth gold: his anchor leg in the 4 x 200m freestyle relay, which pulled China up into the bronze medal position, was a full second quicker than anyone else swam in either the individual or relay events.

Continue reading Weekly Wrap: Golden Sun, missing mojos, and feng shui in the EPL

Weekly Wrap: diving, sliding and Camacho

Hong Kong has been drawing lots of negative attention this week – specifically the semi-flooded state of the Hong Kong Stadium pitch, on which the Barclays Asia Trophy is being played. It consists of 3 EPL teams and a local side sliding through puddles under the guise of vaguely competitive soccer.

Hong Kong pitch
The Beautiful Game
Picture credit: Getty/The Telegraph

Continue reading Weekly Wrap: diving, sliding and Camacho

Will the Chinese be doping in Barcelona?

Given the recent doping scandals in the world of sport and the furore that surrounded Ye Shiwen at the London Olympics, that’s the question many international reporters will undoubtedly be asking at the FINA World Championships in Barcelona, Spain, which kick off on Friday July 19 (though the swimming events don’t start until Sunday July 28).

Remember this?
Remember this?

Continue reading Will the Chinese be doping in Barcelona?

Sun may shine in Barcelona, but for how much longer?

Chinese swimmer Sun Yang has been a naughty boy: partying, missing training, and (gasp) even spending time with a girl. Sun wasn’t happy after being fined and went into a sulk, demanding a new coach. He need look no further than the world’s most famous swimmer, Michael Phelps, for a case study. Phelps, too, got tired of a life of training, let his hair down a little and then this happened:

Image Continue reading Sun may shine in Barcelona, but for how much longer?

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.”

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