Olympic pressure

Posted in 2008 Olympics, Track and Field/Athletics at 8:30 am by Nicole

With gold medals come expectations…and with a country that expects gold in 2008, those expectations can sometimes be overwhelming. Liu Xiang, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist in the 110-meter hurdles event in track and field, is as recognizable an athlete in China as they come. Sun Haiping, Liu’s coach, spoke this week about how the pressure of expectation is weighing on his star athlete.

Liu coach expresses concern over mental pressure (The Guardian, UK)


Yo, it’s Yi!

Posted in Basketball at 9:37 am by Nicole

The next Yao Ming (e.sinchew-i.com)

These guys are going to be compared to each other ad infinitum between now and June, and it’s not in any way a fair comparison…it’s the kind of situation that makes sports journalists cringe because you know you have to ask the question, and you know the question has been asked 1.3 billion times, but you have to do it, because there are about to be two big men from China in the NBA and that’s a story all on its own right now. Hopefully once Yi starts to play, the print will be about his strengths as a player and not just the fact that he’s living in Yao Ming’s shadow. News flash: there will never be another Yao Ming. Number-one draft pick, 7’6″, the world on his shoulders, the requirements to be endlessly diplomatic in the face of so much pressure…nope, that story happened already. What Yi will be is another great player added to an already stunningly international NBA scene in the United States, provided he can keep himself focused and continue to improve year after year. That’s a cue he can take from Yao, whose Houston Rockets rallied to protect the camp after Yao went down with a leg fracture in December. They’re currently in it for a possible fourth-place ranking in the West, and they’ve locked up a playoff berth, so Yi will have lots of Yao highlight tapes to check out before he makes his NBA debut later this year.

Olympic business

Posted in 2008 Olympics, Sports Business at 9:30 am by Nicole

Volunteer and computer systems and venues…oh my.

Recruitment of Hong Kong volunteers for Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games (Media-Newswire.com)

Beijing awards top ten volunteers (China Daily)

Lenovo becomes official computing supplier for Olympic Games (itvarnews.net)

Shunyi Olympic Park almost ready (CCTV.com)

Chinese take “branding” to new level (CNBC) – Editor’s note: Always nice to see Western business reporters following Chinese companies, and in this case, it’s a big ‘un: Li Ning, the company that signed Shaquille O’Neal last summer to a distribution deal for Dunkman sneakers in China. Li Ning, of course, is China’s “prince of gymnastics,” a multiple medalist at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and a true Chinese business success story. He’s also a warm and decent person…I met him last summer at the Shaq-fest (think laser lights and dry ice in one of Beijing’s best hotels – all that for a press conference) and was really impressed with him as a person, as well as a business executive and Olympic legend.


NBA China Games

Posted in Basketball at 7:18 am by Nicole

The NBA announced today in Shanghai that the NBA China Games will be held in October in Shanghai and Macao. It’s no surprise that the Cleveland Cavaliers are one of the two teams that has been chosen to participate, given the stunning popularity of LeBron James in China. At last summer’s exhibition matches with the USA national team in Guangzhou, James had by far the craziest appearance schedule of the team members, entertaining Chinese fans throughout the city in between making all of those alley-oops in the match against the Chinese national team. The Orlando Magic, featuring USA national team member Dwight Howard, will also participate in the China Games. Kudos as always to the NBA’s marketers, who have solved the riddle of bringing what used to be a completely American-based sport and league to China in a major, major way.

The NBA.com website has posted a great list of star NBA players’ nicknames in Chinese – Chinese characters, pinyin pronunciation, and translation/explanation included. Great fun – who (in the United States, anyway) knew that Dirk Nowitzki was “the German racecar” to his Chinese fans?

CBA Finals – Bayi wins: Former NBA player Wang Zhizhi, the first Chinese player to make the jump from China to the big leagues in the United States, led his Bayi Rockets team to a 4-1 defeat of the Guangdong Tigers, the defending Chinese Basketball Association champions, in this week’s CBA finals. Next stop for the Tigers’ star player, Yi Jianlian – the NBA draft on June 28.


Just the news today

Posted in 2008 Olympics, Sports Business, Tennis, Winter Sports at 9:53 am by Nicole

Lots of links, lots of news:

Tennis: WTA Tour to undertake significant China expansion (Bob Larson’s Tennis News)

Olympics: China counts down to glory (China Daily); Beijing 2008 – 500 days to go (Olympic.org); Beijing unveils Olympic medals (TVNZ New Zealand); Olympic sports roundup from the week (Boston Globe)

Snooker: Nation’s hopes rest on rising star (People’s Daily Online)

Sports Marketing: Sports product firm shoots for long-term goals (China Daily)


World swimming championships

Posted in Swimming and Diving at 9:57 am by Nicole

This topic deserves its own post. It’s no secret that China has rocked the swimming world in the past, with alleged doping at past world championships and the uncanny habit of “hiding” its best athletes until the Olympics. This week’s world championships in Melbourne has brought the issue to the front burner, as many are wondering whether China is planning to unveil new athletes at the 2008 Olympics without giving them a chance to compete internationally (and subject them to international scrutiny and, ahem, drug testing).

Chinese insist this really is their best (The Australian)

Secret camp rumors a joke, insists Zhang (The Standard, Hong Kong)

And speaking of drug testing…

No blood tests at Worlds (The Daily Telegraph, Australia)

One more factlet from the swim world…Shanghai has been awarded the 2011 world swimming championships:

Shanghai gets swim champs TVNZ (New Zealand)

Make that two more…according to this article, Tian Liang, China’s most recent diving superstar on the men’s side who ran afoul of the Chinese sporting world and its anti-commercial sensibilities after the 2004 Olympics, has retired:

China’s “diving prince” retires (News24.com)

Olympic updates, again

Posted in 2008 Olympics, Baseball, Track and Field/Athletics at 9:43 am by Nicole

You can pretty much take it to the bank: between now and August 2008, there will be oodles of Olympic updates.

Major League Baseball Helping China’s Baseball Team: MLB.com reports on China’s national men’s baseball team which has been training in the United States for the last three weeks in preparation for, you guessed it, 2008. After training together and playing minor league teams, the Chinese team will disperse to train directly with several minor league teams to experience professional-level baseball training. Doubtful that Ichiro’s immediate successor as Asia’s most famous major leaguer is going to hail from Beijing anytime soon…but with Taiwan already a baseball powerhouse, can the mainland really be that far behind?

China at World Cross Country: World cross isn’t China’s forte – that honor belongs to the Kenyans and Ethiopians – but that didn’t keep China from sending a contingent of athletes to last weekend’s annual event, held in Mombasa, Kenya for the first time.

BOCOG Media Kits to NOCs: According to the China Daily, BOCOG has distributed Olympic media kits to the over 200 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) for the Beijing Olympics.


Shen and Zhao golden at world figure skating champs

Posted in Figure Skating at 9:13 am by Nicole

It’s official: Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo have made a complete comeback from the devastating Achilles tendon injury that threatened Zhao’s career. Shen and Zhao fought all of last season to make it to the Olympics, where they won bronze and most certainly would have been in the hunt for gold had it not been for Zhao’s weakened leg. The pair won gold at the world championships in Tokyo today. How do you say “Vancouver 2010″ in Chinese? 温哥华 (“wengehua”) 2010å¹´ (“nian”), of course!

Swimming and diving world champs in Melbourne

Posted in Swimming and Diving at 8:47 am by Nicole

If it’s diving, it must be the Chinese taking home the hardware. ESPN.com reports that Chinese divers have taken gold medals in all four diving events that have been contested so far at the world championships this week in Melbourne, Australia. Swimming events begin this Sunday, March 25.

Speaking of swimming, people have been asking “Where are the Chinese?” since the 2004 Olympics. The Associated Press, via SignOnSanDiego, presents a nuanced analysis of China’s presence – and lack of it – on the international swimming scene in the last few years.

Those pricey basketball jerseys

Posted in Basketball at 6:42 am by Nicole

I’m not entirely sure this means anything, but the NBA announced this week that Kobe Bryant’s new #24 Lakers jersey is now the top-selling jersey in China. Number two is Allen Iverson’s new Nuggets kit, which tells me not that these guys are somehow “more popular” than Yao in his homeland, but that people like to collect new jerseys and Kobe and A.I. happen to have worn new ones this year. When I was living in China, it was Tracy McGrady at the top of the list. Yao’s up there, but he’s not number one…in jersey sales, anyway. On the court, where it matters a little more, Yao scored 32 points and had 14 rebounds en route to dismissing the Pacers on Tuesday night, 86-76. The Rockets are within a game and a half of sliding into the fourth-seed spot for the Western Conference playoffs. That probably means more to Yao than a jersey.

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