I just came upon a blog based in the UK for the Sports Journalists’ Association. It’s great and informative – an excellent resource. They’ve just posted a detailed account of one British journalist’s experience working at the World Junior Track and Field Championships in Beijing earlier this month. It’s very informative – especially regarding all of the snafus that many British journalists were reportedly subjected to in getting visas to cover the event. I’ve heard that 2008 Olympic credentials will serve as visas for all foreign journalists so these sorts of things shouldn’t happen two years from now…but when senior IAAF officials can’t get to their own world championship event, as almost happened with one of the heads of the IAAF media department, you know things need to change a bit.
The home page for the Sports Journalists’ Association of Great Britain can be found here.
Britain’s 20% accreditation boost for Beijing (and the world juniors snafus) (Sports Journalists’ Association, UK)
The Chinese team did it…they made the last 16 at the World Basketball Championships with a last-second 3-pointer against Slovenia. The hero of the game wasn’t Yao Ming or Wang Zhizhi. It was somebody you’ve never heard of unless you’re a true China basketball fan…Wang Shipeng (no relation to Wang Zhizhi…Wang is one of the most common surnames in China).
So, wow! The United States is undefeated, and the young, untested Chinese team has given their country something to feel great about. It’s shaping up to be a great championship. If you haven’t watched international basketball, it’s a great time – shorter quarters (10 minutes each), and much more team play than you’d normally see in the star-centric NBA.
China stuns the worldÂ (Toronto Star)
A great quote from the Toronto Star piece about the growth of basketball in China:
“There’s a passion in that country for basketball,” United States coach Mike Krzyzewski said earlier this week at the world championships. “You can just see it in people’s eyes. I think people enjoy basketball in the other places we’ve been. In China, it was like they were craving it. You get that type of atmosphere with that populace and that athletic ability, and something really good is happening.”
Editor’s note: Yes, he’s right.
Take your pick: Justin Gatlin, MarionÂ Jones, Trevor Graham, or China…the news just keeps on coming.
Nike ends contract with coach Graham (Associated Press, via ESPN. com)
Gatlin has ‘no idea’ how substance got into his body (Associated Press, via ESPN.com)
China athletics school raid unearths 450 drug doses (Reuters, via Guardian Unlimited UK)
Another U.S. sprinter busted (Associated Press, via Sports Illustrated)
And, the best article I’ve seen that explains the Justin Gatlin and Marion Jones situations in detail (hint:Â the Gatlin story in particularly hasÂ been grossly inaccurately reported by many major news outlets):
Legs to stand on: Gatlin, Jones have two very different battles to fight (Sports Illustrated)
Chinese and Western media outlets are reporting today that performance-enhancing drugs have been found in a sports school in Liaoning province in northeastern China.
Sports school caught in doping raid (China Daily)
Athletes, staff at Chinese sports school found doping (USA Today)
Report: Chinese sports school found using performance-enhancing drugs (Canada.com)
Finally, the track and field world is starting to get it. Drug use starts not with young athletes driving for success, but with the influential coaches and advisers who surround these young, talented athletes when they’re just starting out, gain their trust, and then convince them that they have to take drugs in order to succeed. The news this week includes several stories about getting dirty coaches out of sport, and it’s about time.
The trifecta of Jones, Gatlin and Landis failing doping tests this summer is astonishing, not only for the fact that – think about this – two Olympic gold medalists in the 100-meter dash, the sport’s premier event, got nailed, but also for the fact that both of them got caught by drug tests performed in the United States. After years of appearing to not fight doping among its own athletes seriously, the United States looks like it’s starting to get it right.
It’s a good change. American athletes win lots of medals, but in Europe, we’re known as bigger drug cheats than any other country we dare point our fingers at. The fact that Gatlin failed a doping test at the Kansas Relays, and Jones at U.S. nationals, says a lot about USADA and the seriousness of the anti-doping effort in the United States.
John Powers of the Boston Globe, with whom I’ve shared many a mixed zone, has a piece in the Boston Globe (link below) talking about the United States’ new Olympic priorities. It’s not about winning any more. It’s about showing up clean.
Go to news.google.com for all the latest on Marion’s “B” sample and Gatlin’s decision to not fight the results of his drug test and Landis’ latest news. I’ve posted the most intriguing articles below, but there are lots more out there from where these came from.
Jones’ golden career at crisis point (Independent UK)
Priority is being clean, not cleaning up (Boston Globe)
Top marathons want tougher sanctions (The New York Times)
Salon.com on Jones’ drug positive
When drug excuses defy reason (USA Today)
Other sports news:
Swimming: Chinese keep the world guessing (SuperSwimmer)
The Marion Jones doping story, along with Justin Gatlin and Floyd Landis, will be talked about for a good long time. It’s not a China story specifically, but doping is a huge part of the story of international sport. I’ll post occasional links to these doping stories as they come out.
Athletics will reap what it has sown (The Herald, UK)
Call Beijing the anti-Athens. Venues are up and running, and official Olympic test events are beginning two years out from the big day. The world junior track and field championships went off without a hitch this past week with decent weather, a not-too-scary pollution index, and slews of personal bests and championship records.
This week in Qingdao it’s the test event in Olympic sailing. Still to come this month: the world softball championships.
First test event for 2008 under way in Qingdao (Reuters)
Record medal haul offers hope (People’s Daily Online – coverage of the Chinese team at world junior track and field)
Future looks bright for China after world juniors (Guardian UK)
And elsewhere in the China sports universe…
China’s top talent stays home from Pan-Pacific swimming championships (SLAM! Sports)
And who can forget the world basketball championships, which began Saturday in Japan?
Yao sees improvement of China from huge loss (People’s Daily Online)
It’s world juniors week in Beijing at the Chaoyang Sports Center (æ½®é˜³ä½“è‚²ä¸å¿ƒ), way out in east Beijing past the eastern fourth ring road. It’s a small but lovely facility and the event, so far, has been just about perfect. It feels every bit as much a world championship event as the IAAF senior worlds I’ve covered (Paris in 2003 and Helsinki in 2005). One Chinese reporter corraled me for an interview, asking how I would compare the media services between this event and the other world events I’ve attended. All I could say was, well, here the press materials are in English and Chinese instead of English and French! That’s about it – other than that, you just step inside the stadium and take in the atmosphere of a wonderful track meet.
It’s great to see world-class track and field in China, and especially fascinating to see the Chinese team doing so well. Last night the stadium was electrified by the performance of Chinese men’s high jumper Huang Haiqiang, who actually leaped just as high in winning the gold medal (2.32m) as Yuriy Krymarenko leaped last year in Helsinki to win senior worlds. China keeps looking for its “next Liu Xiang” and they may well have a future Olympic medalist in the youthful Huang. Keep an eye on this kid.
As always, wire-to-wire coverage of the event is being featured online at the IAAF website.
Beijing crawling with journalists (Jamaica Observer)
The Chinese basektball team lost to the United States last week in Guangzhou – not an unexpected result. But the passion for NBA-level basketball was the real story of the exhibition, which also included a matchup between highly competitive Brazil and a revamped U.S. squad, desperately trying to make up for the antics of its overmatched 2004 Olympic squad, which brought home bronze. Both nights in Guangzhou, the stands were packed and the audience was knowledgable, cheering for every good move, regardless of who was scoring the points. The biggest cheers, of course, were reserved for Yao Ming, who suited up with the team for the Monday night game, but didn’t play.
This week, it’s Beijing and the world junior track and field championships, the largest international sporting event ever to be held in Beijing, according to press reports.
World Junior Track and Field Champs open in Beijing (China Daily)
And a small news tidbit from the sports marketing world: The Li-Ning company, China’s most visible sportswear brand, has teamed up with Shaquille O’Neal for a sponsorship deal that will see Shaq’s “Dunkman” clothing line marketed in China. Shaq and Li Ning, China’s “prince of gymastics” from the 1984 Olympics, made an appearance together at the China World Hotel on Monday evening in Beijing. I’d never seen Shaq in person before, so between him in Beijing and Yao Ming, Wang Zhizhi, and all those big NBA players hovering over me in the mixed zone in Guangzhou, I have to say: it’s been a week of being surrounded by some very tall people.
Chinese firm drafts NBA’s Shaq (Wall Street Journal Online)
Shaq jumps feet-first into China market (The Oregonian)
Shaq signs deal to tout Chinese sneakers (UPI)
You would think that working full-time in sports journalism and being in Beijing, the undisputed center of the Chinese athletic world, that there would be so much to write about that the blog could be updated hourly, not just three times a week as I was shooting for back in the spring. Ah, the innocence of beginning a blog. It’s been a tidal wave of work, travel, basketball in Guangzhou, Shaq in Beijing, trying to find LeBron for an interesting quote, the world broadcasters’ meeting with BOCOG and Beijing Olympic Broadcasting, coming back from GZ to BJ for the world junior track and field championships, and in the midst of it all, a flood of China sports-related news in my email box (Google news alerts – great stuff).
Beijing has officially arrived as a major sporting city, and there’s no way to keep up with it all on the blog until I hire a few full-timers to scour the ‘net for new material. I’ll update as often as I can with as much news as possible while simultaneously soaking up as much of the atmosphere as I can during these last ten days of my latest adventure in China. Once back home in the U.S. the blog will continue to be updated as often as possible, especially as the Olympics draw closer and closer.
One tidbit of news: if you’re living in Beijing, there’s a new sports magazine out on the newsstands today: ä½“è‚²ç”»æŠ¥ã€‚Check it out.
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