After a breathless few weeks during which the entire sporting world has been talking about Chinese football (with yours truly quoted by AFP three times, FT twice, El Pais, Hicimos, Vice Sports and interviewed by CCTV, BBC and Al Jazeera among others), let’s take a look at a few stories that could be cropping up over the next 12 months…
The World Athletics Championships kick off in Beijing today, with the world’s media focusing more on the doping allegations that have engulfed the sport than on the sporting action. This is completely understandable, given the revelations that have come out in recent weeks – for example, that one third of the athletes who competed at the 2011 World Champs in South Korea had suspicious tests during the previous 12 months.
However, Chinese media – led by national broadcaster CCTV – have been putting more of a positive spin on things, as is their government-directed wont. Wall-to-wall coverage of former meets (including the 2008 Beijing Olympics) has been shown on sports channel CCTV-5 in recent days, educating and encouraging the public in equal measures, in the hope that they embrace these championships.
The problem is: Liu Xiang, China’s 110m hurdles 2004 Olympic champion and the sport’s only real domestic star, recently retired.
Here is a list of all the Chinese contenders hoping to step into Liu’s size 11s: Continue reading China’s medal contenders
Here, belatedly, is one of my appearances on BBC World during the Sochi Olympics, talking to presenter Sarah Stone live via Skype. The first part is a little outdated as it talks about China’s medals and prospects (at that time), but the section from 1:38 on Beijing’s bid for the 2022 Olympic Games is still relevant.
With Olympic visas already in force, it’s clear we’re in the final run-up to the Sochi Olympics. But as one cycle nears completion, another one is just starting. The quest to host the 2022 Winter Olympics has begun with six bids from Europe and Asia – including a Chinese bid from Beijing & Zhangjiakou – competing in a fascinating battle between traditional and developing winter sports markets.
There was stunning news out of China on Tuesday when it was revealed the Chinese Olympic Committee had recently submitted its bid to host the 2022 Winter Games, with events held in both the world famous city of Beijing (ice sports) and the ever so slightly less well-known city of Zhangjiakou (snow sports).
The Asian Youth Games, scheduled for August 16-24 in Nanjing and closing just a week before China’s 12th National Games kick off, came up with a fantastic way of saving money: a virtual torch relay. The National Games, meanwhile, have gone a different route, getting rid of the excess celebrations, but also reducing the number of competitors and even eliminating two sports.
A brief departure from China for this week’s Sports Talk column to discuss one of the best – and most unusual – sport stories of the year: the non-Fellowship of the Ring. It turns out this story made news at the time eight years ago, with media asking back then if it Putin had stolen it. Kraft stuck to the script, but, eight years later, is apparently fed up and wants the ring back. Putin has since insisted through a spokesman it had always been a gift. It’s hardly a case for the ICC, but it will be interesting to see if there are any further developments. Here’s the piece:
It’s been a good week for unexpected sports stories.
Here’s my Sports Talk column from today’s Global Times on Oscar Pistorius’ fall from grace:
When Oscar Pistorius came to Beijing for the 2008 Paralympic Games, he was already something of a celebrity. As a 17-year-old, he had won Paralympic gold in Athens four years earlier, and though he had failed in his bid to run at the Beijing Olympic Games against able-bodied athletes, he didn’t disappoint at the Paralympic Games, winning three gold medals and running record times in each event.
Speaking to him on the track immediately after his third win, I remember a humble young man breathless with excitement, and quick to credit others for his success. He told me his dream had been realized. But that dream has turned to a nightmare.