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…
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.
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:
Tiger Woods and Ye Shiwen might make an unlikely couple, but both are prime examples of athletes who have lost their sporting mojos. This week’s Sports Talk column looks at why athletes struggle to get back to their top of their game after losing form:
We tend to think of sports as being a purely physical pursuit, but at the very top levels, it’s far more about mental strength than anything the body can do. Just as a novelist can get writer’s block and be paralyzed for months, once an athlete loses their sporting mojo, it can be very hard to retrieve.
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.
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.