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.
I’ve just spent a few days in Korea, where the country’s female golfers are perhaps as dominant on the world stage as any team in sports today. Comparing different teams in different sports brings to mind apples and oranges, but 35 of the world top 100 players are from a country with a population of under 50 million. South Koreans have won six of the past eight major championships, and came second in the other two.
What do they get for this? “Boring”, “faceless”, “robots”, “predictable” etc. Inbee Park has won three majors this year and gets fewer column inches than Hunter Mahan’s new baby. Today’s Sports Talk column looks at why sports stars might be better off striving for one level below perfection: become perfect and the fans and media will turn on you – or worse – just ignore you.
After winning nine of the ten diving golds on offer at the FINA World Championships, there have been very mixed fortunes for China so far in the swimming pool.
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).
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:
Lists like SportsPro magazine’s Most Marketable Athletes [full list below] are equal parts inspired and enraging. I love the fact that Brazilian Paralympian Alan Oliveira (no. 17) is included, combining his age, talent and good looks with the undoubted boost to Brazilian sport that the next World Cup and Olympics will bring, almost as much as I hate the selection of Seth Jones (39), who is largely unknown even within his own sport, and, at 18, may not even play a single NHL game in the next three years even if he later develops into an All-Star.
Zou Shiming is a man with a thousand names this week. Known variously by his growing international entourage as Zoo, Zow, Zoe, Joe, Joo and Jow (and that’s before we even get to his given name), the boxer courteously responds to all and sundry with an infectious smile, and willingly answers the same questions over and over again, always giving full and thoughtful soundbites.
It’s this understated charm that may actually turn out to be more useful to Zou and his team than his boxing talents, which, after winning three Olympic medals (2 gold, 1 bronze), are already legendary.