From USA Today:
The USA women’s volleyball team qualified for an Olympic berth at the FIVB World Cup in Japan with a win over the host country, bringing the U.S. record for the tournament to 9-1. They’re assured of one of the three top spots in the tournament – and the top three can punch their tickets for China next year. It will be a homecoming for U.S. coach “Jenny” Lang Ping, perhaps China’s most recognizable volleyball superstar in history and the hero of the gold-medal-winning 1984 Olympic squad that beat the United States in the final. This will be one of the hottest tickets in Beijing – Lang Ping is still revered in China and she’s very much a part of the Chinese volleyball scene as well.
Team USA secures 2008 Olympic Games berth (USA Volleyball)
From ESPN.com – word that Yi Jianlian is the top rookie at this early stage of the NBA season.
Daily Dime: Yi over Durant (ESPN.com)
Another article from the New York Times – this one on the challenge of harnessing the immense interest that the Chinese have for the Olympics in the marketing campaigns that will emerge over the next nine months before next year’s Olympics.
For Olympics, China’s marketers are showing their pride (New York Times)
Redemption. Learning. Becoming a better human being through competition – even after an athlete has strayed from the path of fair competition, realized his or her mistakes, and decided to re-enter sport as a clean athlete as an example to others.
It sounds pie-in-the-sky and perhaps horribly naive, considering the doping scandals of the last four years – BALCO, U.S. baseball, the Tour de France, Marion Jones, and all the rest. But when somebody stands up and says “I made a mistake – and now I want to be one of the good guys,” it’s high time to listen, and support that vision.
Today’s New York Times includes the story of British cyclist David Millar, who has walked this path. Caught doping with EPO during an illustrious cycling career that included stage wins at the Tour de France, he now rides for the Slipstream/Chipotle team, which has taken perhaps the strongest anti-doping stance any professional team has ever taken, monitoring its athletes 24/7 and getting them to buy into the idea that a clean athlete is the only kind of athlete who will be able to save cycling after the revelations of doping in the past few years, including at this year’s Tour, that have pushed the sport to the brink.
Disgraced rider and new U.S. team take the lead against doping (New York Times)
During the Special Olympics World Games in Shanghai I was amazed by the amount of coverage the event was getting – in countries like New Zealand and Jamaica. The U.S. press didn’t seem to pay a great deal of attention to the event. This morning I happened upon one of the nicest commentaries about what sport can do for society written as part of Nicholas Kristof’s blog at the New York Times – a really lovely piece written by a law professor and China expert who is closely involved with the Special Olympics and saw how this event influenced China, especially regarding the country’s attitudes towards people with disabilities. If you didn’t see it earlier this month when it was originally published, it’s a treat to read. Enjoy.
Special Olympics in China (New York Times – Nicholas Kristof’s blog with guest commentary by Anne-Marie Slaughter, dean of the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, and William Alford at Harvard Law School)
…The news just keeps on coming.
Youth movement spurs China’s Olympic hopes (CNN.com)
In China, the NBA’s Bucks vs. Rockets translates to Yi vs. Yao (International Herald Tribune)
World wushu championship opens in Beijing (ChinaView.cn)
Chinese Ethnic Games:
Modern Guangzhou hosts ethnic games with all heart (ChinaView.cn)
When I was working at the Athens Olympics, we watched some of the most amazing competitions in half-empty arenas in the evenings after our day shifts ended. It was astounding to watch the women’s all-around gymnastics final in an arena where I could see not just one or two empty seats, but whole sections. Athens just wasn’t fired up enough about the Games to fill the seats.
To put it mildly, that will not be a problem in Beijing.
The ticket-buying process originally set out by BOCOG – first come, first served, over the Internet – literally melted down this week as the entire Internet-using population of the country evidently logged on to the site all at the same time for their tickets. That’s led to the decision to distribute the domestic allotment of tickets via a lottery system.
Heavy demand leads to Olympic ticket lottery (AP, via Sports Illustrated)
From today’s China Daily: word from IOC president Jacques Rogge that only “clean” athletes will be considered for receiving a medal upgrade from Marion Jones’ vacated competition results.