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
Paralympic action starts today in Sochi with China’s 10-strong contingent looking to claim the country’s first ever Winter Paralympic medal. Five of the 10 form the curling team, which finished third at the World Championships in both 2012 and 2013, so a medal is a definite possibility. The other five are cross-country skiers: no red hot favorites, but results have been improving and a podium finish is not out of the question.
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:
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:
Japan is having a very, very good time on the Olympic stage right now. Firstly, Tokyo won the right to host the 2020 Olympics. They had always been the favorite, but had to allay growing fears that Fukushima’s ongoing nuclear nightmare would not have any long-lasting effects for the country (though, in truth, they may have been helped more by a combination of Spain’s dreadful employment record and Turkey’s heavy-handed government). It also means Asia will host back-to-back Olympic Games, following Pyeongchang in 2018.
Secondly, wrestling has been reinstated into the Olympic schedule. Much has changed since February when wrestling looked set to lose out, but Japan will benefit hugely from this. Not only do they sit fourth in the all-time medal table for Olympic wrestling (third if you take out the now-defunct Soviet team), but they won four gold medals in London last year, a total matched only by Russia.
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:
I’ve written before about Chinese telecoms company Huawei using sports and entertainment to combat the atrocious PR it tends to get around the world. That trend is continuing, but the company now appears to be spurning the US and focusing more on Europe.