A smattering of news from around the China sports world today:
Yi’s exit leaves Chinese hoops floundering (Reuters, via Guardian Unlimited)
Track and Field: What are the Chinese medal prospects for Beijing? (IAAF.org)
China-born Li named top US athletics coach for guiding Lagat (AFP) [Editor's note: Bernard Lagat's double gold medal in the 1500 and 5000 meter races at this year's world championships were astonishing. Lagat called James Li, his coach, a "technical genius" for planning the strategy that allowed Lagat, a naturalized Kenyan-born American, to win two hot, humid, tactical races in the pressure of a world championship event. My personal sports highlight of the year.]
Adidas taps punch-bag art, Muhammad Ali to spread Olympic fever (Bloomberg.com)
China to host convention on sport science, August 1-5, 2008 (Xinhuanet)
Badminton: China on track for Olympics despite poor results – coach (Guardian UK)
Curling (yes, curling)
Chinese curling attracts younger crowd (China Daily)
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)
The world championships in badminton are being held in Madrid this week, and as usual, China is dominating. Check out the event website for all of the latest news.
It’s official: China has won both the Thomas (men’s) and Uber (women’s) Cup team badmintonÂ competitions in Tokyo. Check out this report from the Asian Badminton Confederation with all the details.
The stars of the Chinese team include world number one on the men’s side, Lin Dan – a household name in China. Wikipedia has a decent biography of Lin Dan, which unfortunately won’t be accessible to readers inside the PRC. The Badminton Central Photo Gallery has some good shots of Lin in action.
Look for men’s and women’s badminton to be some of the hottest tickets in Beijing in 2008, along with men’s and women’s table tennis, and women’s volleyball. Those along with traditional Chinese powerhouse sports like gymnastics and diving…and don’t forget track and field on the night of the 110-meter hurdles final, where everyone expects Liu Xiang (who won yesterday in Tokyo) to be in the hunt for his second consecutive Olympic gold medal in the event.
There appear to be only two sports in the worlds of China Sports Blog readers this week: badminton and theÂ Thomas and UberÂ Cup finals in Japan, and, whoa, NBA basketball. I can’t believe the amount of interest that readers all over the world have in the NBA finals, and specifically in CCTV-5′s broadcast schedule. I’ll do my best to keep you as informed as possible. It now looks from the NBA’s playoff schedule as though CCTV-5 viewers will be treated to the Lakers-Phoenix game on Sunday morning (China time), and perhaps the Cleveland-Washington game on Saturday morning…if the schedules sync up with CCTV-5′s published schedule, that is. No matter what, there should definitely be some basketball action on CCTV-5 this weekend – get up early (if you’re in China) and enjoy.
In badminton news, scroll down a bit on the Daily Telegraph’s sports page to see a news clip about England’s team losing in the final eight to China. Andrew Smith gave a spirited effort against China’s world number one, Lin Dan, before falling to Lin. China has since qualified for the Thomas CupÂ final – check out this report from BBC sport. The women’s Uber Cup will pit China against Holland.
If you want to know Chinese sports, you’ve got to know ping pong (table tennis) and badminton. These “small racquet” sports are trained for and played by Chinese athletes the way American pro athletes play baseball and football. It’s training and competition at the very highest level. If you haven’t seen a live pro badminton or table tennis match in China, prepare to be mesmerized when you do. The Chinese public knows and appreciates its athletes – and the international stars in these sports – in a way that’s difficult to grasp for a Western observer. The world championships in ping pong alternates between a singles and doubles competition and a team competition in alternating years. This year it’s the team event – and it comes to Germany this week. The Thomas and Uber Cup competitions in badminton will be held in Japan starting April 28. Read on.
World Table Tennis Team Championships: The Chinese refer to the world ping pong championships as the ä¸–ä¹’èµ› (“shi-ping-sai,” a short version of ä¸–ç•Œä¹’ä¹“é”¦æ ‡èµ›, “shi-jie ping-pang jin-biao-sai”). China simply dominated last year’s event in Shanghai, winning all five titles up for grabs (men’s and women’s singles and doubles, and mixed doubles). This year it’s the team competition in Bremen, Germany, which begin today and run through May 1. The International Table Tennis Federation website has all the details, and also has a great article on the Chinese teams – as always, they’re the ones to beat this year.
The competition will dominate CCTV-5 this week – the Chinese language schedule can be found online starting here. Live coverage from Bremen, according to CCTV-5′s website, will run Wednesday through Sunday, beginning each day at 3:40 p.m. China time (9:40 a.m. in Germany; 3:40 a.m. Eastern U.S. time).
An aside: last year the Li Ka Shing Foundation, which supports the efforts of Shantou University, was generous enough to fund a trip for myself and five sports journalism students to attend the event in Shanghai. The resulting work can be found in the “Links” section of this blog. We were helped immeasurably while there by the president of USA Table Tennis, Sherri Pittman. The ITTF website has a nice article on the members of the original U.S. “ping pong diplomacy” team that came to China thirty-five years ago this month. Sherri and several members of the team marked the 35th anniversary with a special event with their Chinese counterparts. Kudos to Sherri and Team USA for their generosity towards our program while we were in Shanghai, and best wishes to all the teams for a great competition this week in Bremen.
Thomas and Uber Cups: The Thomas Cup is badminton’s answer to the Davis Cup in men’s table tennis; the Uber Cup is the women’s team event. The two events, held simultaneously, start up this Friday in Japan. The first round of events will be held in Sendai from April 28-May 1 and then the event will move to Tokyo from May 3-7. The Malaysian website The Star is running an article today about the Malaysian men’s team and its chances against the formidable Chinese. This is an old article (2004), but Badminton Central has a nice introduction to these bi-annual team competitions in professional badminton. And if you just can’t get enough of badminton after that, check out the home page for the Asian Badminton Confederation, which includes the full playing schedule for the event. Then pick up that racquet and shuttlecock, and start seeing what all the fuss is about.
(Fun fact: The bird flu scare in China last year drove up the retail price of shuttlecocks, which use real birds’ feathers.)