China finished aquatics world championships on a high note last weekend, with 19-year-old Sun Yang snagging the host country's fifth swimming gold and setting a world record in the men's 1,500-meter freestyle. Sun, who also won the 800-meter freestyle event and took silver in the 400, finished in 14:34.14, beating Grant Hackett's 10-year-old record.
Sun has taken over the spotlight from teammate Zhang Lin, who became China's first male swimming champion when he won the men's 800-meter freestyle in world record time in Rome in 2009.
China was second in the gold medal count at the FINA championships, hosted in Shanghai in three spectacular brand-new venues at Shanghai Oriental Sports Center. The host took 15 golds to the United States' 17, but had the most overall — 36 medals to the United States' 32. China strengthened its command of the diving, sneaked past Australia for the No. 2 spot in swimming, and were surprise silver-medal winners in women's water polo.
Here's a quick sport-by-sport tally of China's performance:
China swept all 10 gold medals in the diving competition, showing to no one's surprise that they have plenty more talent to extend their domination of the sport at the 2012 Olympics in London. China also won four silvers, for 14 total diving medals.
China's women's team were a Cinderella this year, making it all the way to the final before losing to Greece, 9-8. Granted, it was an unusual year in the women's tournament, with none of the quarterfinal games going to the favored team — 2009 champion United States and runner-up Canada were bounced in that round, as were 2008 Olympic champions Netherlands and perennial contender Australia. The Chinese team's second-place finish raises hopes that they can boost the country's low team-sport medal count in the next Olympics. The men's team missed the playoffs after losing all of their games in group play.
China was second in both the gold medal (5) and total medal (14) counts, surpassing frequent runner-up Australia but still a far cry from the United States, which had 16 gold medals. Two Chinese swimmers who won gold and set world records at the 2009 championships in Rome, Zhang Lin and Liu Zige, were much quieter this year. Zhang only competed in relays, and Liu took bronze in the women's 200 butterfly, losing to teammate Jiao Liuyang.
China's gold medalists:
Women's 200-meter IM: Ye Shiwen, 2:08.90
Women's 100-meter backstroke: Zhao Jing, 59.05
Men's 800-meter freestyle: Sun Yang, 7:38.57
Women's 200-meter butterfly: Jiao Liuyang 2:05.55
Men's 1,500-meter freestyle: Sun Yang, 14:34.14 (WR)
Open water swimming and synchronized swimming
Yes, I know, these two have nothing in common with each other. But China failed to win any gold medals in either. Russia swept the synchro competition with seven golds.
Sun Yang image: Titan Sportsphoto#
Tags: diving, FINA, Sun Yang, swimming, water polo, Zhang Lin
Zhang is drawing comparisons to Liu Xiang and Yao Ming as a trailblazing Chinese athlete. And with both the hurdler and the basketball star nursing major injuries, Zhang is undoubtedly China's top active sportsman (sorry, Yi Jianlian). Look for him on ice cream commercials and city bus advertisements soon. He swims again Sunday in the 1,500, an event in which he placed 7th at the Beijing games. In a rare case of collar-popping by a Chinese coach, his coach is predicting another win Sunday, according to Hong Kong newspaper The Standard
Getting less press is Zhao Jing, who took the gold and set a new world record in the women's 50-meter backstroke (27.06 seconds). China's women have won four medals at the games—Liu Zige's silver in the 200 butterfly, a one-three finish for Zhao and Gao Chang in the 50 backstroke, and a gold medal for the four-by-200 backstroke relay team.
Here's a look at a few more Chinese newspapers that highlighted Zhang's win.
Tags: Gao Chang, Liu Zige, swimming, swimming world championships, world record, Zhang Lin, Zhao Jing
Big fines in CBA playoff brawl
A total of 330,000 yuan ($48,290 USD) in fines were dished out to five players and two teams for a fight during a Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) playoff game last week. The Guangdong Tigers routed Shandong Gold, 126-79, in Game 3 of the first-round game. The CBA's been a little rowdy this year, and Chinese basketball officials blame it on new rules allowing for more physical play.
The fines, which were accompanied by short suspensions (two and three games for Guangdong players), don't seem to have hurt the Tigers, who went on to win their first second-round game over Dongguan, moving Yi Jianlian's former team one step closer to its fifth championship. The Guangdong roster includes NBA veteran Smush Parker and four members of China's 2008 Olympic team.
Rockets surging, Yao aching
The oft-injured Yao Ming gave Houston Rockets fans a scare when he sat out a game last week with a sore right foot. But 42-year-old center Dikembe Mutombo did exactly what he was brought in for, giving Yao a break and posting 10 points, 15 boards and four blocks last Friday in a win over Golden State. Yao returned to the lineup after tests showed his pain was just due to a bruise, and paced the Rockets with 22 points in a win over the Charlotte Hornets in their final home game. The Rockets lead the Southwest Division and are neck-and-neck with the San Antonio Spurs for third in the West.
NBA TV China
The NBA announced plans for two reality shows in China. The first will be a cheerleading competition airing on CCTV-5 (China's national sports channel) starting May 9. Brewing company Tsing Tsao is the NBA's partner for the show, in which the cheerleaders compete for a trip to train with an NBA cheering team. The second show, sponsored by China Mengniu Dairy, will be a basketball competition broadcast on Shandong Satellite TV. Airing on Fridays starting May 22, NBA Mengniu Basketball Disciple will feature young hoop dreamers competing for a shot at the NBA D-League.
Han gets assist in Sol win
Chinese striker Han Duan notched her first assist for the Los Angeles of the new Women's Professional Soccer league. The Sol beat Sky Blue FC (New York/New Jersey) to improve to 2-0. Han also had a shot on goal but came up short. The Sol play again on Sunday, April 19, against FC Gold Pride.
Doping swimmers suspended
The Chinese Swimming Association announced it would suspended five junior swimmers for two years for testing positive for anabolic steroids last June. The suspensions of Qu Jing, Liu Bingyao, Zuo Ziqiao, Fu Bo and Hu Shaozhi are retroactively effective to the date of the tests, meaning that they are already nearly halfway through their suspensions and will return with plenty of time left to train for the 2012 Olympics. Why did it take so long to issue the suspensions? That old excuse, "the Olympics." Ouyang Kunpeng, once China's top backstroker, was banned for life by the Chinese Swimming Association just weeks before the 2008 Olympics, after a positive anabolic steroids test.
Liang plays his way into fourth major
Liang Wenchong, China's most accomplished golfer to date, qualified for the British Open at a qualifying event in Singapore. Liang finished second in the qualifying tournament to earn a spot at the Open in July. Liang played in the British Open last year--it was his third Major and the first one in which he made the cut. He also played in last year's Masters and the 2007 PGA Championship (Liang makes British Open cut).
Women fail to qualify for China Open
Four women took part in qualifying competitions for the European Tour-sanctioned Volvo China Open, but none were able to qualify. Among the women looking to qualify were Wang Chun (China.org), who qualified for the Japan LPGA Tour in 2007, and Ye Zhaoying, once the world's top female badminton player (Reuters).
Tags: basketball, football, golf, Han Duan, Houston Rockets, Liang Wenchong, NBA, Ouyang Kunpeng, soccer, swimming, Tsingtsao, Yao Ming
Titan Sports is China's leading sports newspaper, putting out issues every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It is published jointly by Hunan Art and Culture Publishing House and Titan Publishing House (Danwei).
Tags: CFA, football, Michael Phelps, Rafael Nadal, soccer, swimming, tennis, Titan front page, Titan sports, World Cup
Phelps, who captured the awe of China (along with the rest of the world) while winning eight swimming gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, will promote the Mazda 6 through television and print ads, as well as public appearances. According to Bloomberg News,Mazda sold 105,000 cars in China in the first 10 months of 2008. Phelps will come to Beijing soon to start pitching for the Japanese automaker.
Related: Michael Phelps' marketing in Chinese
Michael Phelps image: Hudong.com
Tags: DMG Entertainment, Mazda, Michael Phelps, sports marketing, swimming
Doctors that hurdler Liu Xiang visited in the United States agreed with his Chinese doctors in advising surgery for the Achilles tendon injury that kept him out of the Beijing Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee is still conducting doping tests from the August Olympics, and IOC president Jacques Rogge said he expects at least 15 cases from this year's Olympiad.
Former Chinese national team diving coach Yu Fen has threatened legal action against diving's administrative body, to secure several million yuan she believes she is owed in bonuses from her tenure with the team, which ended in 1997. Yu coached greats Guo Jingjing and Wu Mingxia.
Tickets are on sale for the Chinese women's national soccer team's match against gold medalists the United States at Detroit's Ford Field December 17.
Hong Kong is among the cities bidding to host the 2013 FINA World Championships. The world governing body for aquatic sports including swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming holds a world championship every year. The 2011 championships will take place in Shanghai.
Tags: diving, doping, FINA, football, Guo Jingjing, Liu Xiang, soccer, swimming, track and field, Wu Mingxia, Yu Fen
Du beat the world record in the men's 100-meter freestyle S3 class by 5.87 seconds, swimming it in 1:35.21. China is
Just as in the Olympics last month, swimming records are being broken every day in the Paralympics this week in Beijing. So far, 15 world records have been bested.
Again, the Speedo LZR swimsuit is partly responsible, though not as many Paralympic athletes will be wearing the suit. One third of Japan's team will wear the LZR, and Australian swimmers were reportedly scrambling at the last minute to secure leftover suits from Olympians, as Speedo said it couldn't make enough suits fast enough for the Paralympic team. Depending on their disability, the suit is unwearable for some Paralympic athletes.
Du Jianping image: China.org.cn
Tags: Beijing, Du Jianping, Paralympics, Speedo, swimming
Adidas reportedly shelled out 70 million euros to be an official Olympic sponsor. Adidas gear was also all over Olympians, great for television. But aside from shoes and uniforms, Adidas wasn't particularly visible in Olympic venues. It had no special presence on the Olympic Green, but its beautiful flagship store in Sanlitun near the Workers' Stadium and Workers' Gymnasium saw lots of foot traffic.
Its Olympic ad campaign, though beautifully designed and fitting in concept (Together in 2008, Impossible is Nothing), came up short in the personnel categories. That campaign had four primary faces, in sports that are very popular in China--diver Hu Jia, footballer Zheng Zhi, basketball player Sui Feifei and a few women's volleyball players. Hu pulled out due to injury, Zheng and the men's football team had an embarrassing performance and Sui Feifei was only sixth in scoring on Team China. The women's volleyball team played strong in a very tough field, but in the end only came through with the minimum result acceptable to the hometown fans, a bronze medal.
China's biggest sports apparel brand had the biggest marketing coup of the games—its founder, Li Ning, carrying the Olympic flame on a three-minute slow-motion run to the top of the Bird's Nest, where he lit the Olympic cauldron. The company's stock went up the next day, and Li Ning will always have his stamp on what seems to be an especially important part of the Olympics to Chinese fans.
Li Ning also had its name on the uniforms of China's diving and table tennis teams, who delivered dominant performances, as well as the Spanish national basketball team, which gave Team USA a tough match before losing in the gold medal game.
Nike's two biggest bets on Chinese athletes were Yi Jianlian and Liu Xiang. Yi was solid but not explosive, averaging 9 points a game. The Chinese national team, wearing Nike jerseys, didn't really exceed expectations, but certainly didn't come up short, making it to the quarterfinals before losing to Lithuania. But Chinese fans were more excited about catching a glimpse of Team USA, who were also sporting Nike's hot new jersey, available in stores all over Beijing.
Nike had to deal with the toughest spin job of any Olympic marketer this year—how to salvage its investment in China's biggest sports star, Liu Xiang, when he didn't even compete in the games. Nike's immediate answer--a full page ad celebrating the love of sport even in defeat--succeeded in becoming part of the stream of catharsis after Liu bowed out. Nike got some negative publicity for its efforts to hunt down netizens who alleged that the shoe company had coerced Liu to drop out rather than lose to Robles.
But Liu and Yi weren't the only athletes that Nike put is name behind. It was all over team China, and ready with full-page ads in China Daily and front-page ads in Titan sports news when any of its athletes won a medal or had a strong performance. Swimmer Zhang Lin (silver medalist), boxer Zou Shiming (gold medalist) and beach volleyball duo Tian Jia and Wang Fei (silver medalists) were just a few of the lower-profile high-achieving athletes that Nike celebrated in its Olympic campaign.
Dollar for dollar, Puma might have gotten the most of its Olympic investment. Its hopes ran on two spiked shoes-- those of sprinter Usain Bolt, who loped across the finish line to set the 100-meter dash world record. China loves a winner, and Bolt and the dominant Jamaican team were very well-received in Beijing. Jacques Rogge can complain all he wants, but most Chinese don't mind a guy who's willing to revel in his moment.
If you weren't wearing a Speedo LZR Racer in this Olympics, you might as well never leave the Water Cube's warm-up pool. Nine out of every 10 swimming gold medals went to LZR wearers. The only complaint that people had about the LZR was that it made swimmers too fast, world records too common. The suit was considered such an integral part of success that Nike agreed to let its swimmers wear LZRs instead of Nike suits. Speedo doesn't have a big presence at Chinese sports retailers—swimwear here tends to be generic instead of branded—but China, along with the rest of the world, has no choice but to see Speedo as the leader in swimwear technology.
Tags: Adidas, athletics, Beijing Olympics, Hu Jia, Li-Ning, Liu Xiang, marketing, Nike, Olympics, Puma, Speedo, Sui Feifei, swimming, Tian Jia, Titan, Usain Bolt, volleyball, Wang Fei, Zhang Lin, Zheng Zhi, Zou Shiming