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Posts Tagged ‘Yao ming’

Yao Ming has returned from injury to compete for the first time in 5 months just weeks ahead of the Olympic Games in his home country. However in the same week the groups for the Olympic basketball competition have been announced and Yao’s China team will face an extremely strong line up to qualify for the quarter finals.

Yao made his come back at a tournament in Hangzhou where China narrowly lost to one of their rivals in Group B, Angola. The other teams to make up Group B will be the USA, Germany, Greece and Spain – four of the six will make it through to the next round.

The Olympic basketball event will be kicked off by the huge clash between China and USA on 10th August. Bob would hate to speculate on how much those tickets could fetch…

Teaching in a middle school in China there was one sport that clearly dominated above all others, and it was not ping pong! The baggy shorts, the rows of hoops in the playground, the English names like Kobe and LeBron; basketball may as well be China’s national sport. And Yao is their greatest star – huge in physique, fame and respect Yao’s popularity is rivalled only by that of Liu Xiang within China and his return will have doubled the price of the China v USA game alone.

The update on Yao’s injury from China’s head coach Jonas Kazlausk is:

“Yao still cannot play a full game because of his foot injury. I exchange information about his injury with his doctor as much as I can. I hope he’ll take the full recovery at the Olympics.”

Of the Olympic Group B challenge Yao also talks a good game (via China Daily):

“I am very sure we can beat Angola. We lost to them in Hangzhou, but we were not in our best shape last week,” he said. “Their players are not very competitive, and I don’t think they are able to pose us any real threat at the Games.

“We are not afraid of Germany either. Yi Jianlian has improved tremendously after playing one season in the NBA and he can limit Nowitzki. And I can take care of Chris Kaman.”

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On his blog BBC Beijing correspondent James Reynolds has carried out an impromptue and “unscientific” poll to find the “top 10 Chinese people you should know about“.

Made up from contributions from readers the list includes three Olympians (past & present). Liu Xiang and Yao Ming, readers should all be familiar with, but another name may be less recognisable outside of China; Li Ning.

Li Ning won three gold medals in the 1984 Olympic Games as a gymnast. Impressive in itself, but his inclusion in this hit list is due to his entrepreneurial success with his own sports brand. Visitors to China – particularly anyone who has taught in China – should be familiar with the Li Ning ‘squiggle’ logo (in the background of the image below).

Li Ning Olympic Athlete and Businessman

The rest of the top 10 were, Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao, Yuan Longping, Yang Liwei, Zhang Ziyi, Li Jiacheng and Zhang Yimou.

Investigate the full list for yourself; obvious ommissions may include Ang Li, Jackie Chan and Jay Chou. Two years ago Jay Chou was certainly the biggest celeb going and a huge part of Chinese popular culture, and Bob’s students certainly regarded him as Chinese. In fact there does seem to be a bit of favouritism to mainland stars here… hoping to avoid debate over who is and is not Chinese perhaps?

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A great story from the Wall Street Journal, via Mary Nicole Nazzaro’s Beijing Olympics Blog about the new role models emerging in Chinese society. The focus is on the switch from the communist role models, of which Lei Feng is the most legendary, to sports stars and internet entrepreneurs, most notably Liu Xiang.

Olympic gold-medalist Liu XiangLei Feng Communist Model Citizen

“Communist heroes were usually idealized, perfect people, and, more often than not, dead.”

Chinese detective writer Qiu Xiaolong‘s book ‘Death of a Red Heroine‘ describes the life (and death) of a model worker in the China of 1990’s economic reforms; a good read for anyone interested. (The book is also a good ‘beginner’s guide to 20th Century Chinese history, with a story.)

“Traditionally in China heroes must be winners first and foremost. That has been the essence of the iconic success of professional basketball player Yao Ming. The 27-year-old National Basketball Association player is treated as a national treasure. Though he wasn’t the first Chinese player to join the NBA, he was the first to dominate in it — showing that Chinese are among the world’s best.”

Bob previously wrote similar when Yao Ming suffered an injury that threatened his Olympic dream.

The main star of the article, and one of the biggest hopes for the Olympics is Liu Xiang. Earlier this year the Chinese public voted their top Olympic dream, to see Liu retain his 110m hurdles gold and there has been great speculation over the pressure Liu is under.

“Mr. Liu, the gold-medal-winning hurdler, is seen as both a hero for the nation who wins gold, and a populist hero who embodies the greater individuality prized by younger Chinese. One important factor: The sport at which he excels wasn’t chosen by the state. Originally a high-jumper, Mr. Liu made an unusual switch into hurdling at age 15, after his original sports school had given up on him.

“He also is admired for the way he conducts himself off the field. Mr. Liu is known as a spunky, everyday kid who exudes a kind of personality that also isn’t handed down by the state. On a victory lap through Hong Kong after his 2004 win, he sang for adoring fans.”

Read and make up your own minds.

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Yao, down but possibly not yet out

Yao Ming has suffered a stress fracture in his left foot, announced this Tuesday before his team’s match in the NBA. He will be out for the rest

of the NBA season and it is not clear whether he will be fit in time to take part in the Olympic basketball competition.

For an interesting personal take on the significance of this set back take a look at Mary Nicole Nazzaro’s post on her Beijing Olympic Blog. Mary describes Yao as “China’s biggest international sports star…(I make the distinction “international” because hurdler Liu Xiang is arguably the most visible Olympic star inside China; but Yao is certainly the most recognized throughout the world)”. Would anyone disagree?

This will certainly be a huge blow to the the millions of Yao’s fans in his home nation. But let us not forget Yao too, who describes the idea of missing the Beijing Games as “ the biggest loss in my career to right now”.

Interestingly Nazzaro describes Yao as “an exemplary human being on and off the court”, which is slightly contrary to some articles that have appeared in the Chinese media labelling him as a ‘bad boy’. However Nazzaro’s comments paint an image of the clean-living, modest and supremely successful sport stars that so appeal to the Chinese public – hence Roger Federer’s huge following.

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