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The 2014 Shenzhen Marathon: The Fast and the Flamboyant

Posted: 12/9/2014 10:00 am

shenzhen 2014 marathonThe 2014 Shenzhen International Marathon took place over the weekend with more than 15,000 participants from 30 countries.

shenzhen 2014 marathon

Men and women from Ethiopia took top spots in their respective categories. Solomon Tsige Asfaw won the men’s race by finishing in two hours, 16 minutes and 21 seconds, while Elfneshe Melaku Yado won the women’s race by finishing in two hours, 34 minutes and 23 seconds.

A total of $142,000 in cash prizes was awarded to the top runners, with RMB 2,000 given to the top ten Shenzhen residents who completed the race.

shenzhen 2014 marathonThis is the second year for the marathon in Shenzhen. While many take it seriously, others use it as an opportunity to perform. Here are some of the more colorful participants who ran at a nice leisurely pace more conducive to picture-taking:

shenzhen 2014 marathonshenzhen 2014 marathonshenzhen 2014 marathonshenzhen 2014 marathonshenzhen 2014 marathon

And here’s an aerial view of the marathon from a drone:

shenzhen 2014 marathon

shenzhen 2014 marathonshenzhen 2014 marathon

To match the crowd of people running, there was a large crowd of bystanders enjoying the action:

shenzhen 2014 marathonPhotos: DV On Scene, Southern DailyShenzhen Traffic Police, Weibo


Chinese Swim Champion Banned From Training In Australia Over Doping Violation

Posted: 12/4/2014 12:00 pm

sun yangAustralian sport authorities have barred Chinese Olympic swimmer, Sun Yang, from training in Australia after it was revealed that the gold medal winning athlete had committed a doping violation this past May.

Swimming Australia head, Michael Scott, announced Sun would no longer be permitted to train at any Australian swim facilities.

In May 2014, Sun tested positive for the banned stimulant, trimetazidine, and was banned from competition for three months by the Chinese Swimming Association. News of Sun’s ban was covered up by the Association and China’s anti-doping agency until just over a week ago.

Earlier this year, and prior to the ban going public, Sun competed in the Asian Games where he won three gold medals.

According to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s regulations, the minimum ban for first time offenders is two years, a duration soon to increase to four years. Chinese officials defended the short duration of Sun’s ban, saying they believe Sun did not intend to break the rules. Sun claims he took the banned substance due to a heart condition.

Scott said Swimming Australia will continue to tighten protocols around foreign swimmers. All swimmers are required to register with Australia’s national anti-doping agency, and pay a fee to ensure they are regularly tested during their stay.

Scott said, “(Integrity) is foremost going forward. It was a very straight forward call, which Denis [Denis Cotterell, Sun Yang's Australian swim coach] supports and will enforce.”

This isn’t the first time Sun’s actions have met with controversy. In November 2013, Sun had his endorsement and business privileges suspended after a car accident that showed Sun had been driving without a licence. Earlier that year, Sun was formally disciplined for missing training sessions and disputing with long-time coach, Zhu Zhigen.

Photo: tupian


Guangzhou, Serious About Soccer, to Create 5,000 New Teams

Posted: 11/28/2014 9:11 am

children student soccer trainingChina’s new school curriculum emphasizing soccer skills reveals a massively ambitious plan to turn China into a international soccer powerhouse.

Guangzhou has now revealed how it plans to contribute to the national goal with a new three-year plan designed to cultivate soccer skills in youngsters.

READ: China Makes Football Mandatory In Schools As It Dreams of Championships

As with school systems throughout the rest of the country, Guangzhou will make soccer classes compulsory for all students in elementary and middle schools as introduce a four to six day soccer seminar as part of the school’s curriculum every semester.

children student soccer trainingBy the end of this year, soccer programs are to be set up in 300 Guangzhou schools. By 2015, 25 specially-dedicated soccer schools are to be established throughout the city. By 2016, 500 Guangzhou schools should be involved in the program, creating a total of 5,000 intra-mural soccer teams from 500 schools and involving 50,000 students. Also by 2016, 75 specially-dedicated soccer schools are to be established.

READ: China Faces a Rocky Path to Football Superiority

The new focus on soccer and physical education is a radical departure from the standard practice of rote-learning in preparation for the gaokao, the university entrance qualifying exam.

Soccer development at a grassroots level is also a move away from the recent popularity of exclusive soccer schools with high tuition fees, such as the RMB 1.2 billion ($195 million) academy operated by Guangzhou Evergrande.

children student soccer trainingWhile President Xi has expressed his national dream for China’s youth to be healthy, a renewed emphasis on soccer may also reflect Xi’s desire for China to qualify, host, and win the World Cup, as seen here in cartoon form.

READ: Guangzhou to Build 100 New Football Pitches by 2016

Institutionalized soccer instruction is not new to China. In the 90s, around 4,000 traditional soccer schools were closed when Chinese football’s image tanked due to a failure to win Asian titles or qualify for the World Cup.

Aside from soccer, other international spots have seen great potential in China for sports development. Professional sports associations representing football, basketball and ice hockey have all expressed interest in developing their respective sports in China.

children student soccer trainingRelated:

 Photos: Sina Blog

Watch: Bench-Clearing Brawl Between China, Japan Ice Hockey Teams

Posted: 11/20/2014 3:13 pm

china japan ice hockey brawlBeijing has a decent shot at hosting the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, and the country is looking to improve its chances at the games’ premier sport, ice hockey. But even though China’s team ranks 38th in the world, there is one part of the game they already seem to be good at: fighting, especially when it’s an old fashioned bench-clearing brawl.

This happened at the Asian Ice Hockey Championships between the Chinese team in white and the Japanese team in red.

READ: Is China Ready for the Toronto Maple Leafs? 

Bardown, a column on Canada’s TSN website, is thrilled about the development:

There are so many great things to mention about this brawl from the incredible amount of jumping in these fights — seriously why is there so much jumping? — to how incredibly long this fight goes before gloves are actually dropped. Lots of gloved punches in this by the way.

Not many details have been associated with this video, which published on Liveleak on October 25, other than there are a whole lot of white jerseys on the ice, and that is Bananarama’s Venus playing in the background all throughout.

Bench-clearing brawls are not new to Chinese sports. A wild melee involving several players broke out during a basketball game between a visiting Georgetown University team from the US and the Bayi Rockets in 2011.

In 2010, the Chinese Basketball Association issued an apology after tensions during an exhibition game with a visiting team from Brazil escalated into a bench clearing brawl. During the incident, Chinese players continued to attack Brazilian players as they walked away to the locker room even after both teams were separated. As a result, several fines and suspensions were handed out.

Here’s the video [NSFW due to language]:

Photo: The Hockey News


Is China Ready for the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Posted: 11/7/2014 5:52 pm

toronto maple leafsThe Toronto Maple Leafs, loved and loathed by Canadians, is the latest western sports team to try and tap into the potential of China’s vast sports market.

Executives with the team’s owner, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), will join Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Chinese officials in talks aimed at improving the state of Chinese amateur hockey in exchange for being able to promote the Toronto Maple Leaf brand to Chinese consumers. Chinese officials are even hopeful the Leafs could play a game in China as early as next year.

China isn’t known for its ice hockey prowess, but that could change with Beijing bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics. China’s team is currently ranked 38th in the world. Truth be told, the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t much better, having failed to win the Stanley Cup since 1967 and perennially missing the playoffs for many years since then.

Despite this record, MLSE is betting the losers will be lovable ones for Chinese sports fans. “This is the most storied and established brand in the game,” said MLSE chief commercial officer Dave Hopkinson. “We were told that if they were going to partner in the NFL, it would be with the Dallas Cowboys. If they were doing a baseball deal, it would be with the New York Yankees. And if there’s a partnership in the NHL, it’s going to be with the Maple Leafs.”

MLSE’s executive in charge of Chinese business Bo Hu compared the Maple Leafs to Manchester United, the most popular soccer team in China. “We want to keep holding camps for kids, building grass roots interest, and eventually take our Maple Leafs players there. This is the Manchester United model,” he said.

toronto maple leafsThe Toronto Maple Leafs are most valuable franchise in the NHL, worth $1.15 billion last year. The previous arena that housed the team, Maple Leaf Gardens, sold out every game from 1946 until 1999. During the 2007-2008 season, the Maple Leafs earned an average of $1.9 million per game thanks to the highest average ticket prices in the NHL. The Maple Leafs were even featured in the Mike Myers comedy, The Love Guru.

The introduction of hockey to China must compete with other sports hoping to develop their markets there. The NFL has announced several plans to promote itself in China, as has the NBA. At the same time, the development of soccer has been mandated by government officials to supplement the numerous soccer schools aimed at developing China’s next soccer star.

There are other obstacles for the NHL. Ice rinks are hard to find, and hockey equipment remains expensive to purchase, even for the Chinese middle-class.

Meanwhile, other sports like basketball have had a long tradition in China that eclipses hockey, even before Yao Ming was crowned an ambassador to the sport. Chinese fans have long looked up to Chinese basketball stars like Mu Tiezhu, a famous player from the 70s and 80s who helped the Chinese national team win several Asian basketball championships.

[h/t @jimmybats22]


Photo: Windsor Star, 680 News


NBA Teams Up with China in Landmark Deal to Promote Sports… But Will it Work?

Posted: 11/4/2014 11:00 am

China’s Vice Premier Liu Yandong (center) and NBA officials at the signing ceremony in Beijing.

China’s Ministry of Education has entered a “strategic partnership” with the NBA to incorporate fitness and basketball into the elementary, middle and high school curriculum across China. The goal of the partnership is to promote a well-rounded education, emphasizing sport to boost the country’s physical education as academic pressure weighs down students who often choose books over sports to improve their exam scores.

The partnership, signed in mid-October, marked the ministry’s first partnership with an American professional sports league, according to a press release by the NBA. The league announced the partnership was aimed to “provide enhanced basketball training to at least 3 million students by 2017”.

As part of the curriculum, NBA players and coaches will visit Chinese schools to conduct basketball clinics, and provide specialized instruction to Chinese coaches and physical education teachers.

The signing ceremony in Beijing was celebrated with a host of high-level Chinese and NBA officials, including China’s Vice Premier Liu Yandong, Vice Education Minister Hao Ping and Sports Minister Liu Peng, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

Yao Ming was enrolled into Shanghai Transportation University in 2011.

Whether this will help lift the game’s profile and inspire wider sports participation in China’s schools remains to be seen. Gym classes are generally considered subordinate to math, English, Chinese or other core courses in terms of importance.

At least 10 percent of all schools across China do not have qualified sports or music teachers, reported Nandu, citing statistics from the education ministry. As a result, most of the country’s national athletes are selected from niche sports groups instead of students in the general education system, one education official told the newspaper on the condition of anonymity.

“The biggest difference between China’s competitive sports and the West’s is that they have athletes with university degrees, but we have athletes who pursue university degrees after retirement,” said Chen Peide, a former bureau chief of Zhejiang Sports Centre, who had frequently advised President Xi on the issue. China’s most famous basketball star, Yao Ming, went to Shanghai Transportation University after his retirement in 2011.

“For many of the athletes, they don’t have strong education backgrounds, and often times they are forced to seek out other professions after retirement because of this,” Chen added. Lao Lishi, a gold medallist diver, went on to open a shop on Taobao, China’s biggest e-commerce website, after retirement.

It will take a lot for China to learn to love basketball. Another sport – soccer – has had the support of international clubs and associations for years without much success.

Photos: NBA;


Beijing Close to Hosting Winter Olympics as Oslo Pulls Out

Posted: 10/7/2014 4:29 pm

olympicsOslo, Norway formally withdrew its application to host the 2022 Winter Olympics on October 1, reports CCTV, leaving Beijing one step closer to hosting the event. The Chinese capital’s only competition is now Almaty, Kazakhstan.

A majority of Norway’s parliament voted against the Olympic bid over cost concerns. The $51 billion to host the 2014 Sochi Winter Games in Russia have made bidders for the next Olympics skittish about the possibility of massive debt, making the games colloquially known as “the games nobody wants”.

Prospective host cities that have already withdrawn include Stockholm, Sweden; Krakow, Poland; and Lviv, Ukraine. That leaves Beijing with a good chance of hosting. Almaty has not been known as a favorite with the Olympic committee, but Beijing brings its own baggage following massive protests over its selection to host the Olympics in 2008.

Photo: Caijing


Newspaper Blasts China’s Soccer Cheerleaders For Being Ugly

Posted: 09/16/2014 11:50 am

It’s one thing to criticize China’s national soccer team, which has an abysmal record. It’s another to take aim at its cheerleaders, the girls who jump up and down, waving pom-poms to cheer them on. But that’s what Nandu, a newspaper in south China, has done.

It filed a report saying while China’s football team is bad, it’s cheerleaders are equally as a bad. Photographs of the country’s football cheerleaders are always showing girls with distorted faces and their mouths agape, the newspaper wrote. “[Their appearance] prevents the public from looking at them further,” it wrote.

In contrast, the cheerleaders on the basketball court are always gorgeous, smiling, attractive and sexy, it said. So why do the ugly ducklings end up on the soccer pitch? The paper said because fans in football stadiums sit further away, they aren’t close enough to see the girls clearly. If the audience is going to have a hard time seeing their faces, why bother to find beautiful ones?

The second reason the newspaper gave is that football cheerleaders often perform outdoors, which means a gust of wind or inclement weather could cancel out their efforts at looking beautiful. This makes it harder to look good and perform well outdoors, the report said.

So what do you think? Is this characterization of Chinese football cheerleaders unfair? Here are some photos.

Photos: Nandu


No Official Games Yet, But the NFL is Coming to China

Posted: 09/1/2014 5:47 pm

nfl tour chinaFans of American-style football were pleased to know the sport is coming to China in a new indoor league set to start next year, but now the real thing is coming too: the NFL.

The NFL on Tour is set to bring the NFL experience to several mainland cities through the use of an interactive audio and visual presentation. Visitors will be able to try on official equipment as well as enjoy an NFL China pop-up shop selling official team merchandise.

The NFL on Tour kicked off in Shanghai and is expected to make stops in Wuxi, Hangzhou, Tianjin, Beijing, Xi’an, Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan, Changsha and Guangzhou.

As well, NFL Home Field will return to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The games will begin for Guangzhou on September 14 and be held weekly, culminating in the University Bowl to be held in Shanghai on November 22 and 23.

NFL Home Field will feature on-field workshops and clinics as well as tackle games featuring the teams from the American Football League China. Furthermore, an NFL Hall of Fame legend is rumored to appear, as did Joe Montana in 2013.

[h/t the Beijinger]

Photo: nicekicks


Chinese Boxer Wins Muay Thai Championship

Posted: 08/21/2014 5:27 pm

muay thai champ chen weichao Here is your newest Chinese boxing champion: 22 year-old Chen Weichao from Hebei.

As CCTV reports, Chen defeated Wilfried Montagne from France in the 67 kg weight class of the WBC World Professional Muay Thai King of the Belts contest on August 15 in order to win the honor. Chen’s victory marks the second time that a Chinese national has become a Muay Thai boxing champion.

Chen is a martial artist that has trained since childhood. Having studied at Shaolin Temple, Chen went to Thailand by himself at 15 to begin his career.

Check out the photos of his victory below.muay thai champ chen weichao 01muay thai champ chen weichao 01

Photos: CCTV 

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