Hot, humid, sunny, and full of great track performances – that’s Osaka, Japan, where the CSB is camping out for the 11th rendition of the IAAF World Championships in Track and Field.
Updates to come as I’m able during the week – for now, a tidbit from a certain 110-meter hurdler who met a few journalists (present company included) at a Nike press conference yesterday at a downtown hotel.
China’s Liu hopes to go about his business of being the world’s best (International Herald Tribune)
So many news clips, so little time.
World University Games (Universade):
The Chinese team had a great Universade, winning the medal count with 32 golds and 87 total medals.
A year out from the Beijing Olympics, China wins University Games gold race (International Herald Tribune)
A memorable Universade for hosts (The Nation – Thailand)
Universade concludes, China topping medal standings (China View)
Involvement of colleges leads China sports to sustainable development (People’s Daily Online)
China on way to sports system transformation (People’s Daily Online)
Nice haul for Canada at Bangkok Universade (Winnipeg Free Press) Editor’s note: This article isn’t about China, but I’m feeling a little guilty at not having posted more news of the World University Games (Universade) while they were being contested, so this is the CSB’s attempt at a touch of penance…it’s a great event, one that China has hosted in the past, and one well worth paying attention to.
World Badminton championships:
Trio of medals for China (SportingLife.com)
Report on Yan Zi in Montreal (Edmonton Sun) It’s old news now – Yan Zi lost after this article was posted – but it’s worth reading about how China’s stellar doubles player made it all the way to the singles semifinals against Justine Henin in Montreal from the qualifying rounds.
World Track and Field Championships (Starts Saturday August 25 in Osaka, Japan):
Sweet and sour taste of reality (The Herald) Coverage of the British national track and field team that will compete in Osaka, with some thoughts about 2008.
China hoping a strong comeback in athletics (Sri Lanka Daily News)
Yen for running (Times Online) Not a Chinese story, but a great feature on Britain’s Mara Yamauchi, her country’s top entry for the marathon at the world championships (fellow Briton and world record holder Paula Radcliffe had a baby in January and will not be competing in Osaka).
Summer Games are coming, but U.S. dominance is over (SportingNews.com)
Beijing sees Olympics as China’s shot at gold (Hollywood Reporter)
Olympic sailing test event: Report on the British team (SportingLife.com)
IT at Beijing Olympic Games to cost US$400 million (Washington Post)
Beijing’s weekend smog experiment (Blog entry at The Lede, New York Times)
More important than gold medals (Japan Times)
Olympic education for 400 million young people in China (International Olympic Committee)
IOC still believes in Beijing (BBC: Sport Editors’ Blog)
State Councilor urges better implementation of anti-doping regulation (People’s Daily Online)
WADA asks China to increase doping tests for athletes (Voice of America)
Smog casts a cloud over Beijing (BBC)
Coastal city pulsates with Beijing (People’s Daily Online)
Yan Zi, one-half of the stellar Chinese women’s doubles team that won the 2006 Australian Open and Wimbledon, had a great week in Toronto at the Sony Ericsson WTA Rogers Masters tournament. She went through the qualifying round, and then upset Ana Ivanovic (who won the East West Bank Classic in Los Angeles a week ago) and Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli in the main draw. She lost in the semis to Justine Henin, but what a great ride for a player with awesome groundstrokes and a fun, bubbly spirit (she’s a great English speaker as well).
Henin cruises into Toronto final (The Sports Network)
They’ll be in Ningbo, China at the end of the month. As the host country, China will be there. Sadly, the United States will not – they were eliminated earlier today in the FIVB World Grand Prix tournament in Macau.
U.S. Women lose to Netherlands 3-1 (USA Volleyball)
News clips on what’s going on with the USOC’s medal expectations – and the CBC (Canada) coverage of 2008.
U.S. still has legs – and a pool of gold (Boston Globe)
CBC’s pulling out all the stops for Beijing (The Star, Canada)
Got all that? It’s summertime, and that means it’s time for Olympic aficionados to salivate over next year’s potential matchup of China and the United States in the biggest women’s professional sport you never knew existed if you’ve spent your entire life in the United States: women’s volleyball. It’s a pro sport just about everywhere but in the good ol’ U.S. of A., where the NCAA rules mean that women athletes have to basically re-learn the sport when they make the jump from college to the international game. China’s 1984 Olympic darling, Lang Ping, is the coach for Team USA – and her hand-picked protege is the coach for Team China. That makes it one of the best matchups you’ll see in Beijing – if both teams are at their best.
This week both the Chinese and American teams are battling it out in Macau – and next week they go to Ningbo, China, for the FIVB World Grand Prix finals, where Lang Ping is regularly recognized on the street as a national hero. I love a country where the most famous Olympic superstar of the last quarter-century is a woman (and a classy, fun, 6’2″ woman to boot). That’s just plain cool.
U.S. Women’s Team Swept By China (USA Volleyball)
The International Herald Tribune reports on WADA chief Dick Pound’s upcoming trip to China, and his warning to Chinese authorities on doping problems inside the country.
WADA chief again looking into China doping (IHT.com)
The front page of today’s New York Times contains another article critical of China’s oversight in its toy-manufacturing industry, as well as a piece on the website about a media crackdown on false reports, which is reported to have been launched because of a report of cardboard being used to fill pork buns at a Chinese food factory. First it was scandalous, then it was said to be false, then the reporter was fined and imprisoned for a year, and now there’s a suggestion that the original report might have had merit, but the reporter was discouraged from pursuing the story.
All of this comes on the heels of a wave of one-year-till-the-Olympics stories last week about pollution and politics – and a few nice stories mixed in about the beauty of National Stadium and the readiness of the Chinese for the Games one year out, in stark contrast to where Athens was at this time in its Olympic cycle. The nice stories were, well, nice, but the bulk of the stories felt critical of China – and perhaps a little bit fearful as well.
What does all of this have to do with sport? Back to everything I’ve ever said about sportswriting – if you don’t think these stories are about life and the societies in which we live in this day and age, the writer hasn’t done her job. Only one facet of sportswriting has to do with the score and the key plays and the cute kid on the sidelines waiting to run up to Daddy or Mommy after they win the tournament, et cetera et cetera. All the rest has to do with life: embezzlement, gambling (see: NBA referee scandal); cheating, doping (see: BALCO, Chinese swimmers, every other story having to do with 2008); gender politics (see: Wimbledon prize money, circa 2007), and all the rest. Sport is life looked through a pair of glasses that are a little more fun to wear than most others. But not all of the time.
That makes the 2008 Olympics story absolutely fascinating. It also makes it messy, which is something that I know isn’t always welcome in China. A harmonious society isn’t necessarily one in which problems are openly discussed, or even acknowledged – but as several of my friends who grew up in alcoholic families can tell you, pretending things are harmonious when there’s an obvious problem to be dealt with can be devastating over the long term.
So, the CSB will continue to link to, and comment on, all manner of stories leading up to 2008. You will never read a word from a writer who loves China more or who believes in its longevity, majesty, and ability to become a true leader in the twenty-first century more than you will when you’re on this site. I love China and all of my friends there, and it’s my job to bring the entirety of China’s story to you as the Olympics approach, and afterward as well.
It’s a month full of Olympic test events, but the Sydney Morning Herald celebrates a big one today: the victories of its men’s and women’s field hockey teams.
Kookaburras and Hockeyroos win Olympic test event (Sydney Morning Herald)
Many thoughts as we come out of the week of one-year-to-go celebrations for the Beijing Olympics. Much of the Western media has focused on the potential problems – pollution, political controversies, and the like. When I was living in China I always sensed that news being printed overseas felt overly negative – and yet there is a tremendous legitimacy (not to mention responsibility) for the media to hold up a mirror towards China and to say, this is what we see right now. Especially since the foreign media have rights and freedoms that clearly do not exist among China’s domestic media at this time in history. It’s a mixed bag and a bittersweet moment – the development of China will take decades and decades, and the Olympics are just one small piece of the puzzle of that country’s overall development.
Jacques Rogge comments on this issue in an article on CNN.com:
Rogge: Olympics can speed development (CNN.com)
In other Olympic-themed journalism news, S.L. Price’s story on China one year out from the Games is a part of this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated. I was involved in the research for this piece and found Price to be endlessly curious and fascinated by all that he saw during his trip.
Olympic China (SI.com)
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