The glut of “China isn’t at the World Cup, but…” articles has slowed (there is only so much to say, after all), though these pictures of President Xi Jinping are doing the rounds (h/t @niubi), unthinkable to depict the President in cartoon form just a few years ago.
Sam Pearson has spent the last eight years working in the Chinese sports industry, most recently in the role of Senior Manager, Marketing Solutions Asia Pacific for the WTA, after previous stints with Ruder Finn and OCEANS Sports Marketing . He returns home to Wellington, New Zealand, to take up a position as Regional Sales & Marketing Manager for the FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015. Shortly before leaving China, Pearson spoke to China Sports Insider about the current state of the sports industry, as well as the changes he’s witnessed, the future of men’s and women’s tennis in China – and being linked to a tennis star in China’s gossip pages.
May was a busy month.
The French Open, famously won by Li Na in 2011, gets underway in less than two weeks, and to mark the highlight of the clay court season, GQ China has done a photo shoot with the Chinese star. Li called it one of the most fun shoots she’s done “in years” and the results are below (photos via Sina and Li Na’s Facebook page). Check out the crazy tan lines on her wrists (from her wristbands) and on her right knee (from the SpiderTech tape she’s worn since 2009).
Well that didn’t last very long. Tipped by many to become the next world snooker champion after his record-breaking season, China’s Ding Junhui lost to qualifier Michael Wasley 10-9 in the first round in what World Snooker’s official website called “one of the biggest first round shocks in Crucible history”.
Snooker may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s perhaps the best example of the Chinese taking over a sport in a short space of time. Since Ding Junhui won his first China Open title in 2005 as an 18-year-old (he added his second on Sunday), the sport has grown so much here that there are now 13 Chinese in the world’s top 100 players, and five of the season’s 11 full ranking tournaments now take place in China. In TV viewing terms, it’s now firmly established in the second tier of sports (with basketball and soccer the only true Tier 1 occupants).
Waxworks in China can either be good – like this one of Li Na in Wuhan – or very, very bad – like this one of Vladimir Putin in Fuzhou. Fortunately, Madame Tussauds’ latest creation of swimmer Ye Shiwen falls into the former category and gets a solid 8 out of 10 on the official China Sports Insider waxometer.
Li Na has probably never before been compared to the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, but there’s a first time for everything. Both are on losing streaks they just can’t do anything about.