版权所有 - 中国日报�(ChinaDaily) China Daily <![CDATA[How the Hong Kong Sevens ignited Asia's oval-ball boom]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/26/content_37505582.htm HONG KONG - As Japan gears up to host Asia's first Rugby World Cup, they might give a nod of thanks in the direction of Chinese neighbor Hong Kong for helping to make it all possible.

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From humble beginnings, the pioneering event has proved a real game-changer

HONG KONG - As Japan gears up to host Asia's first Rugby World Cup, they might give a nod of thanks in the direction of Chinese neighbor Hong Kong for helping to make it all possible.

The Hong Kong Sevens has grown from an end-of-season bash to a globally acclaimed festival of rugby, inspiring the World Cup Sevens and World Sevens Series - and tens of thousands of fans, who don outrageous fancy dress and party till they drop in the stands.

Its 43-year history has been liberally sprinkled with legends such as Jonah Lomu, David Campese, Waisale Serevi and Zinzan Brooke.

The city holds the accolade of being the only two-time host of the Sevens World Cup (1997 and 2005), reward for Hong Kong's pivotal role in developing the oval-ball game across the world's most populous continent.

The growth of sevens resulted in rugby's return to the Olympics in 2016 after a 92-year absence.

'An innovative idea'

None of that was in the wildest dreams of a group of club enthusiasts when they devised the event, according to former Hong Kong Rugby Football Union president Brian Stevenson, who has been involved from the start and was treasurer for the inaugural staging in 1976.

"There had never been a thought about a kind of international sevens. I thought it was a very innovative idea," said Stevenson, HKRFU president from 2001 to 2016, at the Hong Kong Jockey Club in Happy Valley, within kicking distance of where it all began.

Stevenson describes how a capacity 3,000 crowd packed Hong Kong Football Club to see New Zealand's Cantabrians win against sides from Indonesia, South Korea, Australia, Tonga, Japan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Fiji.

"Nobody would have expected it to take off as it has. We've been most fortunate," said the Scot.

"I always felt it was the nature of Hong Kong and its location. This is probably the most international city in Asia. And when the fans came in, this was all pretty good.

"You think of the timing, 1976.Hong Kong was developing as a financial center. Cathay Pacific was beginning to expand its wings. So there's a lot of things together that really made it."

'That's not the game'

The seed for the Hong Kong Sevens was sown when ADC "Tokkie "Smith, then chairman of the Hong Kong RFU, attended the Scottish Rugby Union centenary sevens at Murrayfield in 1973.

By 1975 he had plans for an international 15-a-side tournament, but they were met with resistance from the governing body of the then strictly amateur sport.

"They were not helpful at all," said Stevenson. "So the way around it was an invitational sevens. I don't think any of us expected it to take off. Well, it was absolutely enormous."

The success attracted the world's best players and eventually national teams, or at least some of them.

"The most supportive people were definitely the southern hemisphere - Australia and New Zealand," added Stevenson.

"They came to the party quite soon. The (Pacific) islands - Tonga, Samoa, Fiji - were basically here from the word go.

"But the countries up north, well, that was a different experience.

"I remember visiting the Scots, and them saying, 'Aye Brian, but that's not the game, the game is fifteens'.

"'OK sir,' I'd say. And I'd go back to Hong Kong."

Attracting the best

Stevenson believes the willingness of southern hemisphere players to embrace sevens gave them an edge when the game went professional in the 1990s.

"The big players, the forwards, the Zinzan Brookes, had become much more mobile than in the northern hemisphere. I thought it actually improved their game," said Stevenson.

Eventually the north came to the party.

"We had sides from the United Kingdom like the Barbarians, The Penguins, the Scottish Borderers," said Stevenson.

"The key was they came with the best players like (Scotland's) Hastings brothers.

"They were hugely supportive and they told their unions, 'Come on, support these guys and go international'. That's how it developed."

Hong Kong now enjoys a three-day 40,000 sellout of color, costume and top-class sevens in April every year with plans to expand to a new, bigger stadium in 2023.

"It started as a bit of a jolly," admitted Stevenson.

"But if you go back to the genesis of the whole thing, part of it was to develop rugby in Asia.

"You always had a New Zealand against Sri Lanka and a 50-0 wipe-out or something. But when you spoke to the Sri Lankans they were over the moon.

"They had played against Jonah Lomu. They'd had that experience. That was what it was all about."

 

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2019-08-26 07:27:34
<![CDATA[Serena and Andy headline galaxy of stars in Beijing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/26/content_37505581.htm A glittering lineup featuring 11 Grand Slam champions will grace Beijing over the National Day holidays for the 16th edition of the China Open.

Asia's premier combined tennis event has again assembled a star-studded cast, with 23-time major winner Serena Williams of the United States and Japan's current world No 1 Naomi Osaka leading a stellar women's field that includes 10 Grand Slam winners.

British star Andy Murray will continue his return to singles action against a crop of the game's most exciting young guns.

The tournament will run from Sept 22-Oct 6 at the National Tennis Center in north Beijing, with total prize money of over $10 million up for grabs.

As one of only four WTA Premier Mandatory events, the outdoor hardcourt tournament never fails to attract the cream of the women's game, with 1,000 ranking points and qualification for the year-end WTA Finals awarded to the winner in the 64-spot singles main draw.

With 44 of the world's top 47-ranked women automatically qualified, the draw also features this year's French Open winner Ashleigh Barty of Australia, Romania's Wimbledon champion Simona Halep and defending China Open champion Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.

Of all the 47 confirmed entries, nine have held the world No 1 ranking spot.

World No 18 Wang Qiang, Zhang Shuai (34th) and Zheng Saisai (37th) will carry home hopes as all three continue to close the gap to the world's best.

Wang, who cracked the top 20 for the first time following a semifinal run at last year's Open, has set her sights on gaining a similar late-season boost in Beijing, while Zheng expects to maintain a winning momentum at home inspired by her first WTA singles victory at San Jose, California, last month.

On the men's side, the return of 2016 champion Murray, who was almost forced to retire after the Australian Open due to a nagging hip injury, is arguably the main attraction of the ATP 500 event.

The Scot, whose fitness woes have seen him plummet to world No 329, entered the 32-player draw in Beijing through protected ranking and will be looking to level up his movement and sharpness after only returning to singles action in Cincinnati, Ohio, earlier this month.

Murray has won 45 singles titles, including three Grand Slams (2012 US Open, 2013 and 2016 Wimbledon), as well as two Olympic gold medals (2012 and 2016).

Even without the three giants of the men's game - Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic - committed to the tournament, the men's draw still includes six of the world's top 10, including Austrian two-time Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem, German ace Alexander Zverev, Russia's rising star Daniil Medvedev (fresh from his victory in Cincinnati), and Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece.

Tickets for the 2019 China Open are now available via the tournament's official website, www.chinaopen.com, and various other certified outlets.

Tickets for the finals, scheduled for Oct 6, are available at a 20 percent discount.

 

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2019-08-26 07:27:34
<![CDATA[China's young guns locked and loaded]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/26/content_37505580.htm With just five days to go until the FIBA World Cup tips off, anticipation and excitement levels have reached fever pitch for Team China's young hoopsters.

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Host's hoopsters raring to do nation proud as World Cup readies for tip-off

With just five days to go until the FIBA World Cup tips off, anticipation and excitement levels have reached fever pitch for Team China's young hoopsters.

The eight host cities are abuzz, the venues are sold out and the stars are lacing up as the squad enters its final tune-up for the 32-nation tournament, formerly the world championships, which will run from Aug 31-Spet 15.

Inspired by their predecessors' eighth-place finish at the 2008 Olympics, China's current crop is aiming to channel the spirit of that memorable run at the Beijing Games.

"Those highlights are so adrenaline-pumping that we just can't wait to make our own history at the World Cup," guard Guo Ailun said after watching a video of China's greatest moments on court at a mobilization ceremony last week.

"Who wouldn't want to play on the biggest stage of the game on home soil and try to make your fellow compatriots proud? It's an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime so we are going to make it count," said the 25-year-old, who made his international debut at 16 at the 2010 world championships in Turkey.

Joining Guo at the event, organized by sponsor TCL Corp, in Guangzhou last week were former NBA players Yi Jianlian, Zhou Qi and 2016 NBA draftee Wang Zhelin (the Memphis Grizzlies' 57th pick).The trio has been dubbed a modern version of the "Walking Great Wall", a term used to describe the legendary Yao Ming and his peers in the early 2000s.

As the only member of the 2008 team on the current roster, Yi will be China's main pillar around the basket, while rangy young center Zhou offers solid rim protection. Wang, for his part, has improved his post play enough to make a significant impact on both ends of the floor.

It's Guo, though, that has emerged as the team's beating heart this summer.

Relying heavily on perimeter offense, he produced another explosive performance in the 90-84 loss to Brazil in Guangzhou on Friday, shooting a team-high 22 points, including three 3-pointers.

During China's NBA Summer League stint in Las Vegas, Guo averaged 15.7 points and 3.7 assists in five games against NBA rookies and G-League veterans. His highlights included a crossover dribble that sent the Charlotte Hornets' Cody Martin sprawling in China's only win (84-80) of the offseason series.

The 6-foot-2 guard has served notice to the world that the host shouldn't be underestimated, according to Brazil coach Aleksandar Petrovic.

"He did an impressive job to break down our defense like all the world's top guards could do," said Petrovic, a former Croatian player and older brother of the late NBA legend Drazen Petrovic (1991-93 New Jersey Nets).

"From what I saw today, China has a much better chance than its group rivals to reach the last eight. I can tell you because I know what all the teams are capable of and China is good enough to pass the first round and possibly the second round."

Drawn in Group A at west Beijing's Wukesong Arena, where the 2008 Olympic tournament was staged, China will start its campaign against Cote d'Ivoire on Aug 31 before facing Poland and Venezuela.

Qualifying for next year's Tokyo Olympics as the best Asian performer at the World Cup and trying to equal or even better the nation's best eighth-place finish are the goals for the host.

Li Nan, head coach of China and a sharpshooter on the 2008 Olympics squad, said his young players gained plenty of confidence from the brave fight against Brazil, but still need to toughen up for the Cup challenge.

"The way we hung in there facing such an aggressive, fast and athletic opponent like Brazil was pretty pleasing," said Li. "We didn't manage to maintain the energy and focus throughout the four periods and this is where we need to improve.

"I feel like we have the confidence and strength to dare to win against some higher-ranked rivals."

It was China's closest loss to Brazil, a sixth-place finisher at the 2014 worlds in Spain, in 25 years.

According to FIBA's latest Cup power ranking, 14th seed China is predicted to top Group A by winning all three first-round games.

The top two teams in each group will then be drawn into four new groups to fight for the quarterfinal berths.

However, a left ankle sprain sustained by Zhou against Brazil on Friday has cast a shadow on the host's prospects, even though an initial examination determined the injury is not serious.

Zhou, who has returned to the CBA's Xinjiang Flying Tigers after being waived by the Houston Rockets in December, averaged 11.3 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in four NBA Summer League games.

TCL commitment

As Team China prepares for the Cup challenge, fans and sponsors are also doing their part to rally the players. TCL, a Guangdong-based home appliance manufacturer, organized a mobilization ceremony for the host on Thursday in Guangzhou, where fans and its business partners interacted with the players, including Guo, Yi and Zhou.

The company, a sponsor of China's national basketball program since 2009 and a FIBA partner, sent the team a scroll of Chinese calligraphy, which read, "Basketball enters China time", as a gift, and unveiled the "General Cup", the trophy TCL designed for the Player of the Game award at the tournament.

To enhance consumers' game-watching experience, the brand has also launched a series of Cupthemed products featuring artificial intelligence, QLED technology and large-sized screens.

Veteran forward Yi Jianlian (top) and young point guard Guo Ailun were both instrumental as Team China just came up short in a morale-boosting 90-84 loss to Brazil in Guangzhou on Friday. China opens its World Cup campaign against Cote d'Ivoire in Beijing this Saturday. Infront China / For China Daily 

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2019-08-26 07:27:34
<![CDATA[Trailblazer Zhang kicking door open for new generation]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/26/content_37505579.htm In a quiet, leafy Beijing suburb, a lethal weapon is letting rip. At just 5-foot-3, the diminutive yet powerful figure is locked in concentration, her eyes unmoving from the padded targets she attacks with fists and feet at Black Tiger gym in the north of the capital.

Zhang Weili's goal is clear: beat Jessica Andrade in a strawweight bout on Aug 31 in Shenzhen and become China's first UFC world champion.

When not in combat mode, Zhang is a picture of calm, even with a world-title fight around the corner.

"I think I might be too relaxed," she told Xinhua. "I don't feel stressed or tense right now. Maybe my coaches are more strained than I am. I want to feel the nerves for the fight, but I can barely feel that right now.

"That feeling will come out as soon as I arrive at the ring. That feeling is not just nerves, but excitement. Every time when I take part in a fight, I get that feeling when I enter the arena and hear the entrance music.

"If I can become China's first UFC world champion, it will mean that I've finally realized my dream. It will also mean that MMA (mixed martial arts) will become more recognized and known to more Chinese people, and it can get more people involved in these kind of sports. In that sense, I think what I'm doing is very meaningful."

Zhang's story started at the age of 9 when she was first introduced to the Chinese martial art of sanda or Chinese kickboxing. Since then she has honed her skills to become one of the most well-rounded fighters in the world.

Her record is phenomenal. Since a debut loss in Kunlun MMA, the fighter from Hebei province has amassed 19 straight victories, including three in UFC.

She is well aware how significant her next one could be.

"My first goal is to win the championship on Aug 31," she said. "If I can win, more people will start to have an interest in this sport. Just like famous Chinese athletes Yao Ming and Li Na, they promoted the development of a sport after they achieved outstanding results. I will also follow their example to spread MMA in China.

"In recent years, more and more Chinese people are getting involved in MMA. I have seen many fighting and boxing clubs open, and more Chinese kids have started to take up MMA training. There are also more TV programs and films spreading the idea of mixed martial arts.

"UFC has opened a Performance Institute in Shanghai, which is helping to develop more Chinese and Asian talents. Many top athletes joined this project. I believe that there will be more MMA talents that will appear in the coming years, and MMA in China will improve continuously."

Zhang finds herself in a male-dominated world. Standing in the middle of the gym, she is the only woman. But as she resumes her training, it's clear she commands everyone's utmost respect - the roomful of fellow fighters entranced by her every move.

She is a role model for them, a shining example of what hard work and diligence can earn you.

Zhang is hopeful that young girls will be inspired by her, too.

"I think girls are equal to boys. Girls can achieve what boys can. Girls have many possibilities," she said. "You should not be simply defined as gentle or weak, you can also be brave, hardworking, persistent and independent. Never let those labels define or limit you."

She's already got one famous female fan - Ronda Rousey, the poster girl of MMA, who recently heaped praise on Zhang.

Writing on Instagram, Rousey said: "I feel like a proud mama watching how women's MMA has grown. Women from all walks of life, from all over the world are rising to the challenge and showing the world what it means to fight like a girl.

"Weili Zhang @zhangweilimma is a prime example of overcoming adversity - fighting not just through the ranks but to also get noticed and stand out. I've definitely taken notice, and so should you."

Zhang was chuffed to receive the shout-out from her American idol.

"I really appreciate what she did. She's my role model," she said. "Her performances in the Octagon refreshed my view on women. I started to realize that women can also show their strength in the Octagon, and women can do better than men. I saw her fight in UFC in 2013 and that inspired me to be determined and work hard to be someone like her.

"When she mentioned me on Instagram, I felt very surprised and excited. For me, she seems like an idol that is unapproachable, but she made me feel like she is a close friend."

Zhang wants to have the same effect on her young female fans in China. For now, she leaves them with this message: "Don't be afraid of having big dreams, make your big goal into smaller ones, and achieve them one by one, you will get close to your big goal. I did it; I believe you can do too."

Here's hoping, then, that Zhang will finally achieve her big goal in Shenzhen on Saturday.

Chinese fighter Zhang Weili prepares for her UFC world-title fight at a Beijing gym last week. AFP 

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2019-08-26 07:27:34
<![CDATA[Chinese soccer kicks off new era]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/23/content_37505024.htm

The Chinese Football Association has elected Chen Xuyuan, former president of the Shanghai International Port Group, its sixth president. Three vice-presidents and a new 35-member executive committee were also elected in Xianghe, Hebei province, on Thursday.

This is the first time since it was established in 1955 that the CFA will not be headed by an official of the General Administration of Sport of China. Also, most of the members of the executive committee are not sports officials, but professionals coming from different walks of life related to soccer.

The composition of the committee demonstrates the sports authority has finally decided to pull back its hands from the soccer organization, as presumably it has realized that the former outdated and rigid management of the sport, along with corruption, is partly to blame for the disappointing performance of Chinese football. It has also realized that to have quick success, some shortsighted measures were adopted. For instance, under the former committee's acquiescence, large amounts of money were spent employing expensive foreign players and coaches, but not on youth training.

Chen is also a veteran professional club manager. Thanks to his efforts, Shanghai SIPG rose to be among the top clubs in China shortly after it was established in 2005, and the only Chinese footballer playing in top European leagues - Wu Lei, a forward with Espanyolis from the club's youth academy. He strongly opposes naturalizing foreign players who have no blood ties with China, and actively supports youth training and giving clubs more say in affairs related to themselves.

The new committee must set aside considerable time and energy to address the legacy issues they have inherited, as the whole national team system of different age groups, and the current Chinese Super League are both constructed and operating largely in accordance with the old policies. Should big-name foreign players vanish from the Chinese game, it will necessarily affect the clubs and the market, which will predictably mount pressure on the reformers.

It is hoped their election can be the whistle for greater professionalism. But they will definitely have to overcome considerable resistance from supporters of the hard-cash soccer policies, if not vested interests, as a handful of parties live on the old policies like parasites. So the people should grant the new board some time, because 90 minutes might not be even enough to weed out their opponents. Not to mention to carry out their new policies.

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2019-08-23 07:49:36
<![CDATA[STAR Market set to attract global attention]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/22/content_37504500.htm

But biggest factor currently limiting foreign participation is its tiny size

Potentially handsome returns from fast-growing Chinese tech startups are likely to attract high foreign participation on Shanghai's Nasdaq-like STAR Market, after the market develops with a larger size and lower volatility, analysts from home and abroad said.

China's sci-tech innovation board, or the STAR Market, on the Shanghai Stock Exchange has received continuing interest from investors since it debuted on July 22, with ample liquidity and relatively strong stock price performance.

On Wednesday, 22 percent of the shares of STAR-listed firms changed hands on average, much higher than the 2.7 percent for the whole A-share market. Also, since the first batch of 25 STAR-listed firms debuted, their share prices had gained 6.4 percent on average as of Wednesday, versus a 1.5 percent loss for the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index over the same period.

The STAR Market, however, has seen limited participation from foreign investors, despite their notable presence on the main board, analysts said.

Tommie Fang, head of China equities at UBS, said the majority of foreign institutional investors still have a wait-and-see attitude toward the new board, pending declines in valuation levels and steadier market conditions.

At present, foreign investors can only access STAR-listed firms through the Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor program or QFII and the renminbi-denominated RQFII - which enable licensed international institutional investors to invest in mainland stock exchanges via quotas, while the Stock Connect channel is still unavailable.

Among the more than 300 foreign institutions with QFII licenses, only six had subscribed to the initial public offerings of the 28 firms listed on the STAR Market, including Goldman Sachs and Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC Private Ltd, according to financial information provider Wind Info.

"The biggest factor limiting foreign participation in the STAR Market is its tiny size," said Dong Dengxin, director of Wuhan University of Science and Technology's Finance and Securities Institute.

The new market, valued at about 640 billion yuan ($90.7 billion) in total, may have difficulty in digesting the funds of foreign institutional investors typically of a large amount and in providing a big enough investment target pool for them to select, according to Dong.

"Foreign investors' interest in the STAR Market may rise substantially after the market has more than 100 listed firms," he said.

Accounting firm PwC estimated in July that nearly 100 companies will hopefully get listed on the STAR Market this year. As of Wednesday, IPO applications of 118 firms are under review by the SSE and securities regulators, or awaiting financial statement updates to proceed with the review.

On top of a small market size, the high valuation - meaning potential high volatility - of STAR-listed firms may have also deterred cautious foreign investors that adopt value investing strategies, analysts said. Average price-to-earnings ratio, a typical valuation gauge, of STAR-listed firms remained as high as 151 on Wednesday.

But this constraint should weaken gradually, according to Lynda Zhou, equity portfolio manager at Fidelity International. Near-term performance may still be volatile, but STAR's market-oriented mechanisms will help prices to better reflect fundamentals gradually, Zhou said.

As the market size enlarges and early volatility fades, the STAR Market has the potential to attract high foreign participation in the long run, given the "impressive growth potential" shown by current STAR-listed firms, said Matt Weller, global head of market commentary at Gain Capital.

"The STAR Market offers the opportunity for foreign institutional investors to gain access to early-stage Chinese firms in the fast-growing technology and biotech sectors. Previously, it was nearly impossible for foreign investors to purchase shares in such companies," Weller said.

Such almost unprecedented investment opportunities are enabled by STAR's registration-based IPO reforms, with easier IPO standards for tech startups, according to analysts.

President Xi Jinping announced in November that China would launch the new board and pilot the registration-based IPO system. The latest tone-setting meeting of the country's leadership held in July required the STAR Market to properly implement its registration-based IPO system with information disclosure at its core and improve the quality of listed firms.

For the STAR Market to really draw foreign investors' interest and even receive their stand-alone allocation, the quality of listed firms should be the top determinant, said Wang Maobin, investment department chair at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

"Listed firms with innovative business models unique across the globe will be the ultimate attraction of the STAR Market to overseas investors," Wang said.

Such companies are expected to emerge on the board as market size gets bigger, given China's merit of being an ideal testing ground for new business models and the STAR Market's fundamental market reforms, Wang said, adding that the STAR Market may have the highest foreign participation in all A-share sectors in the future.

Another push for foreign investors to buy into STAR's opportunities should be international equity indices' incorporation of STAR-listed firms after the market matures, said Wang Haoyu, managing director and head of capital markets of Beijing-based CreditEase Wealth Management.

While the SSE has announced to include the STAR Market into the benchmark SCI on Jan 22 next year, most index compilers may still mull their decisions over the new board, according to him.

Global index compiler MSCI Inc told China Daily it will "continue to monitor and provide further communication on the eligibility of the STAR Market prior to the November 2019 Semi-Annual Index Review".

Analysts said MSCI's inclusion of STAR-listed firms may come only after they become eligible on the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect. This is in turn partially dependent on the inclusion of the firms, if without shares listed in Hong Kong, into the SSE 180 Index or SSE 380 Index, which may take place by the end of this year at the earliest.

zhoulanxv@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 08/22/2019 page13)

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2019-08-22 07:21:24
<![CDATA[Huawei gets support from Japan's NTT Docomo]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/22/content_37504499.htm NTT Docomo Inc, Japan's largest telecom carrier by users, is resuming orders from Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, as the Chinese telecom giant is securing key support from the big three telecom operators in Japan despite US restrictions.

As shown on its website on Wednesday, NTT Docomo restarted taking orders for Huawei's high-end P30 Pro smartphone, which will be on sale in September.

With the move, the three major telecom operators in Japan, with other two being SoftBank Corp and KDDI Corp, have all restarted sales of Huawei's products, after they delayed the launch in May.

 

Huawei Technologies Co introduces the new P30 smartphone series in Tokyo earlier this year. Provided to China Daily

The earlier delay was due to uncertainty about Google's previous announcement that it would restrict Huawei's access to updates of the Android operating system in compliance with a US ban.

"We had been examining the impact of US trade restrictions on Huawei but have confirmed that our customers can safely use Huawei products at this stage," an NTT Docomo spokesman said on Tuesday.

In Japan, Huawei ranked fifth in terms of smartphone shipments and accounted for 6.2 percent of the total by the first quarter of this year, following Apple Inc, Sharp Corp, Sony Mobile Communications Inc and Samsung Electronics Co.

Xiang Ligang, director-general of telecom industry association Information Consumption Alliance, said: "The move is of significance, showing that the Japanese tech company is not willing to surrender to political pressure from Washington, which leveraged political power to suppress tech power globally."

Washington at first put Huawei on the Entity List in May, banning it from buying US technology without special government approval. Later, the US government gave Huawei a temporary license to purchase some US-made goods to reduce disruption for its customers.

The US government said on Monday that it will give Huawei another 90 days to buy from US suppliers. The move, an extension of the license through mid-November, is expected to allow the Chinese tech giant to serve its existing telecom customers and smartphone users.

Analysts pointed out the latest development also reflected a broader trend where companies globally all started to realize that any behavior obstructing fair and free trade will hurt their interests in the end.

Reuters reported that US President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he had spoken with Apple CEO Tim Cook, where Cook "made a good case" that tariffs could hurt Apple.

Cook reportedly said that it would be hard for Apple to pay tariffs on its products assembled in China, as many of its competitors, such as Samsung, whose manufacturing is mostly located in South Korea, do not have to pay the same level of tariffs.

chengyu@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 08/22/2019 page13)

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2019-08-22 07:21:24
<![CDATA[Network gear of Chinese company brings 5G services to London homes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/22/content_37504498.htm

Londoners can now access ultrafast 5G broadband internet in their homes through routers made by Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, after a major network upgrade from mobile operator Three.

Following the launch of Three's 5G home broadband in parts of the British capital, users can reap the benefits of the latest generation of network technology via the Huawei 5G CPE Pro Router.

There is no need for a landline to operate the router - residents simply need to connect the device to a power source and insert a micro SIM card.

"Three's 5G is going to revolutionize the home broadband experience," said Dave Dyson, chief executive of Three. "No more paying for landline rental, no more waiting for engineers, and even a same-day delivery option. It really is the straightforward plug and play broadband that customers have been waiting for. The ease and immediacy of it all means home broadband using 5G is going to be key to the future of the connected home."

The service is available in the London boroughs of Camden and Southwark. Hackney, Islington and Tower Hamlets will follow in the next few weeks.

Vodafone and EE have also commenced 5G rollouts in the United Kingdom, and Britain's fourth major mobile operator, O2, will launch 5G upgrades from October.

Three, Vodafone, and EE will use Huawei equipment in their radio access networks for 5G upgrades, even though Huawei kit could soon be banned from network infrastructure, if the UK government joins a US-led boycott of the Chinese company. O2 is working with Ericsson and Nokia as technology partners for its 5G rollout.

The United States has pressured the UK to ban Huawei participation in 5G upgrades, due to what the US claims are security concerns. The UK government was expected to reach a determination on whether it would join the Huawei boycott last month but the Conservative Party leadership contest delayed the decision.

On Friday, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei said he was confident that the UK would allow the continued use of his company's technology in network upgrades.

"I noticed the third day that (Johnson) was in office, he said the UK should roll out 5G as soon as possible," Ren told Sky News. "I think they won't say no to us as long as they go through those rigorous tests and look at it in a serious manner and I think if they do say no, it won't be to us."

Upcoming releases of Huawei 5G smartphones by UK vendors have already been impacted by a US ruling that prevents Huawei devices from accessing updates on the Android operating system.

(China Daily 08/22/2019 page13)

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2019-08-22 07:21:24
<![CDATA[More steps planned to ease investment hurdles, say officials]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/22/content_37504497.htm

The government will hold three closed-door meetings regarding the implementation of the Foreign Investment Law, customs clearance facilitation and the protection of intellectual property during the multinational leader's summit in Qingdao, Shandong province, in October, senior officials said on Wednesday.

These meetings will be hosted by the Ministry of Commerce, the General Administration of Customs and China National Intellectual Property Administration from Oct 19 to 20.

These government branches will announce new policies and collect opinion from participating companies during the meetings, said Qian Keming, vice-minister of commerce.

The Ministry of Commerce is overhauling existing laws and regulations, and amending laws that are inconsistent with foreign investment regulations to ensure that the Foreign Investment Law can be smoothly implemented on Jan 1,2020, so as to make the investment environment in the country more healthy and friendly, said Qian.

The vice-minister said China will continue to facilitate foreign investment and trade while stimulating consumption amid a complicated and slowing global economy.

A total of 188 senior executives from Fortune 500 companies and top industrial groups, such as BP Plc, Siemens AG, HP Inc and Sumitomo Corp, from 26 countries and regions have confirmed to their attendance the upcoming summit in Qingdao, said Ren Airong, vice-governor of Shandong province.

She said the summit this year will focus on developing businesses such as next-generation information technology, high-end manufacturing, new energy and new materials, marine economy, healthcare, customized tourism, modern finance and agriculture.

Despite the Sino-US trade friction, China has attracted a great deal of foreign direct investment from diversified sources in the first seven months of this year, laying a solid footing for the second half, said Li Yong, deputy director of the China Association of International Trade Expert Committee.

FDI inflows to the Chinese mainland rose 7.3 percent year-on-year to 533.14 billion yuan ($75.5 billion) between January and July this year, responding positively to the government's opening-up and liberalizing measures, data from the Ministry of Commerce show.

"Multinationals' confidence has also been boosted by the establishment of more intellectual property rights courts at central and provincial levels starting this year," Li said. "As China has hastened the development of an innovation-driven economy, it has been keen to enhance the legal regime for IP protection, and new protection mechanisms have already taken shape across the country."

Eager to enrich its ability of attracting FDI, China rolled out revised negative lists for foreign investment market access at the end of June, introducing greater opening-up and allowing foreign investors to run majority-share-control or wholly-owned businesses in more sectors.

zhongnan@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 08/22/2019 page13)

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2019-08-22 07:21:24
<![CDATA[Chinese firms hunt for new markets as trade disputes with US continue]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/22/content_37504496.htm FUZHOU - After going through all the ups and downs of trade disputes, Hong Jianku is convinced his early decision to explore new markets for his swimwear company in the middle of uncertainties caused by US tariffs turned out to be the right one.

In July 2018, he began bracing his firm for possible trade disputes and then witnessed all the U-turns the US side made in the trade talks.

"I run my firm with a plan B and a plan C in place, with preparations for the worst-case scenario," Hong said.

 

Employees work on a loom at the Qicaihu Garments & Weaving Co Ltd factory in Jinjiang, Fujian province. Xinhua

The business executive is in charge of Qicaihu Garments & Weaving Co Ltd in Jinjiang, Fujian province. The company's bikinis and beach shorts are supplied to top retailers such as Auchan, Walmart and Target. It now has a market presence of across all the world's continents except Antarctica.

His countermeasures included tapping into markets in South America and Africa and adding 30 percent more spending in research and development this year to move up the value chain.

"We expect a 15-percent annual increase in our exports, with Brazil and Chile emerging as strong engines of growth," Hong said. "Argentina will be our next stop."

Su Sunwei, a local commerce official, said Jinjiang saw stable foreign trade growth this year thanks to the new markets of major enterprises, technical innovation and stronger bargaining power.

In the January-July period, Fujian's trade with the Belt and Road economies surged 12.4 percent year-on-year to 256.8 billion yuan ($36.4 billion), and trade with Latin America and Africa jumped by 17.3 percent and 23.2 percent, respectively.

The figures are part of a broader shift.

China's foreign trade with BRI economies grew by 10.2 percent in the first seven months to over 5 trillion yuan, 6 percentage points higher than the country's overall trade growth, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

"Enterprises cannot decide tariffs of another country, but we can focus on our own businesses," Hong said. "The trade disputes might prove to be a blessing in disguise in the end as it prods the sector to accelerate transformation and secure new opportunities."

The ongoing trade friction has put an end to what Hong calls "the good old days of making big bucks fast," but he believes it is one of the vicissitudes in China's development process and could act as a kind of "vaccine" to boost the economy.

The world's second largest economy remains the top growth engine with an enviable 6.3-percent year-on-year GDP growth in the first half of this year, and its stability and resilience has been significantly enhanced.

"External uncertainties continue to grow, but the sound fundamentals of China's stable economic trajectory will remain unchanged in the long term," said Gu Xueming, head of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce.

China's economy is characterized by strong resilience, huge potential, and great latitude, while the number of positive factors supporting a steady economy is also increasing, Gu said.

So far, China has successfully handled trade frictions with the latest key indicators showing the economy on a healthy track.

In the January-July period, domestic consumption remained at a high level, and foreign direct investment into the Chinese mainland expanded 7.3 percent year-on-year. The opening up of China's market was not affected by lingering trade uncertainties and has kept expanding.

In comparison, the United States is edging closer to a recession and a financial crisis, said Mei Xinyu, a researcher with the ministry.

"If the trade dispute is further escalated, it will make problems in the US economy more conspicuous," Mei said.

China's gains and losses in trade friction should not be judged by its gains and losses in trade with one country, but should be based on China's share of global trade, added Zhongtai Securities chief economist Li Xunlei.

"As long as China upholds free and fair trade, its position in global trade can be further elevated," Li said in a research note, adding that China can keep improving the free trade environment and advance opening-up with other countries as a countermeasure.

Xinhua

(China Daily 08/22/2019 page14)

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2019-08-22 07:21:24
<![CDATA[Berlin buzzing as capital's derby days return with top-flight twist]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/21/content_37504074.htm After decades in wilderness, Bundesliga new boys Union set to renew rivalry with neighbor Hertha

BERLIN - Berlin is divided again - by soccer - with two rival clubs in the Bundesliga.

Hertha Berlin's ambitious plans have almost gone unnoticed in the excitement over Union Berlin's promotion to Germany's top tier.

While Hertha wants to build a new stadium in the west of the city, Union has already outgrown its 22,102-capacity stadium in the east.

 

Union's Torsten Mattuschka gets a shot off as Hertha's Fabian Lustenberger defends during a Berlin derby in the Germany's second division in 2013. Union's Bundesliga promotion means the crosstown rivalry will be renewed on Nov 2. AP

The Stadion An der Alten Forsterei (Stadium at the Old Forester's House) in the borough of Kopenick was sold out for Union's Bundesliga opener last Sunday - a 4-0 loss to RB Leipzig - and the club is conducting a lottery for members hoping to catch Borussia Dortmund's visit in two weeks' time.

Union, which clinched promotion via a playoff in May, is the first Bundesliga team to have played in East Germany's Oberliga since Energie Cottbus was relegated in 2009.

The Oberliga was disbanded in 1991 following German reunification the year before.

Hertha, starting its seventh season since returning as second-division champion in 2013, has a new coach, a new investor, and hopes of European qualification after years of steady but unspectacular progress.

Sticker wars

Union's ascent has re-energized an old rivalry and led to an outbreak of sticker wars in the capital, with rival fans adorning lampposts and road signs in their respective club colors.

"On every rain-pipe there are at least five Union and five Hertha stickers, sometimes all over each other. It's about supremacy," Hertha fan Gerhard Jungfer told the Der Tagesspiegel newspaper.

Berlin's interest in the Bundesliga, which began last Friday with Hertha drawing 2-2 at defending champion Bayern Munich, has never been greater.

"We're now the only German city with a derby in the Bundesliga. Munich can't do that," Jungfer said.

The first top-flight derby between the sides, slated for the weekend of Nov 2 at Union's stadium, has already been marked as a highlight.

Hertha coach Ante Covic said he wants to "win both derbies", adding: "It's about showing that Hertha is the capital club, the No 1 in Berlin."

Covic has been charged with building on the work by Pal Dardai, who established Hertha as a first-division team free of relegation worries.

Hertha would have done much better last season were it not for a bad patch of six losses in seven matches. The team finished 11th in the end when Dardai's departure after four and a half years was already set.

Hertha announced in June that investor Lars Windhorst bought a 37.5 percent stake in the club for $140 million, with possibly more to come.

New and old faces

While many Hertha fans might have expected a subsequent assault on the transfer market, the club has been relatively frugal. It paid a club-record $22.2 million to Watford for Belgian forward Dodi Lukebakio, who impressed on loan at Fortuna Dusseldorf last season, while Marko Grujic is back on loan from Liverpool.

Belgian defender Dedryck Boyata arrived on a free transfer from Celtic.

Union has bolstered on the cheap too, luring experienced defenders Neven Subotic, Marvin Friedrich, and Christian Gentner, while midfielder Julius Kade's decision to join on a free transfer from Hertha has further stoked the rivalry.

"I'm very proud to put on the red and white jersey," Kade said.

Union coach Urs Fischer has built his success on a stubborn defense. The team drew 14 times on its way to third place in the second division last season.

Political past

The Bundesliga is a huge step up but Union is more than used to adversity.

The club prided itself on its resistance to the East German regime - in contrast to hated rival Dynamo Berlin, which won 10 straight East German titles from 1979-88 amid allegations of match-fixing and politically influenced favors.

Union weathered financial difficulties and a spell at fourth-tier level to become Berlin's fifth team to play in the Bundesliga after Hertha, Tasmania Berlin, Tennis Borussia Berlin, and Blau-Weiss 90 Berlin - all based in what was West Berlin and so part of the West German league system.

On Sunday, some 450 Union fans held pictures of deceased supporters - friends and relatives - so they can be there too.

"Union is everything," Norbert Schwarz told Der Tagesspiegel.

Associated Press

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2019-08-21 07:34:01
<![CDATA[Madrid outcast Ceballos off to flier at Arsenal]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/21/content_37504073.htm As he bewildered two Burnley midfielders with a center-field pirouette, delivered a stream of dangerous set-pieces and generally controlled play, it was easy to see why there was so much hype around Dani Ceballos this time last year.

The playmaker was about to be an early-season regular for Real Madrid - at the time the European champion - and went on to play well enough to get a call-up to Spain's senior squad.

Just 22, he was one of the new hopes of Spanish soccer.

So how was it that last Saturday he was wearing the red and white of Arsenal, making his full debut in the English Premier League and producing one of the best individual performances of the weekend in a 2-1 win over Burnley?

The answer lies in a mid-season change of coach at Madrid - Julen Lopetegui, a big fan of Ceballos, was fired in October - and the subsequent return of Zinedine Zidane for a second coaching spell at Santiago Bernabeu.

Ceballos joined Madrid from Real Betis in the summer of 2017 but was rarely used by Zidane in the player's first year there. Upon Zidane's return as coach, Ceballos made only three appearances in the final two months of last season.

It was inevitable Ceballos would leave Madrid in the offseason. Arsenal was a willing taker, on a season-long loan, and is already reaping the benefits.

"The truth is that, for me, it has been one of the most special days of my life," Ceballos said after his man-of-the-match display against Burnley. He set up both goals - the first for Alexandre Lacazette from a corner and the second for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after winning possession back.

"I really want this year to truly demonstrate the football that I have inside," Ceballos added. "I have a lot of enthusiasm for this season."

That's just what Arsenal coach Unai Emery wants to hear. Gunners fans, too, with their team's midfield sorely lacking a consistently creative player last season with Mesut Ozil in and out of the lineup.

Emery said he plans to use Ceballos as a No 10 behind the striker but also as a central midfielder, which should give Arsenal greater control of the ball - just like the team had when another Spanish playmaker, Santi Cazorla, was in north London.

As for Ceballos, he just wants to play. He was a second-half substitute against Newcastle on the opening weekend but started at Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Zidane, the player, was an idol for Ceballos. How he'd love to win the favor of Zidane, the coach, and become a regular for arguably the biggest team in the world.

A strong, consistent loan spell at Arsenal could help him realize that aim.

Associated Press

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2019-08-21 07:34:01
<![CDATA[Another swing at success]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/21/content_37504072.htm Facing an 0-2 count, rebooted league confident this version will be a hit

The country's most peripheral pro sport turned over a new leaf with last week's launch of the revamped China National Baseball League in Tianjin.

Founded in 2002, the league endured a series of economic challenges before suspending operations in 2011. It was reborn in 2014 but folded again three years later.

Now featuring teams in Tianjin, Beijing, Guangdong and Jiangsu, the new CNBL is finally on a solid footing after forging a strategic partnership with Major League Baseball in the US.

MLB is the oldest major pro sports league in North America, with 30 teams each playing 162 regular-season games to qualify for a four-round postseason that culminates in the World Series.

The relaunch of the CNBL marks a milestone in domestic baseball history and will help ignite development of the game here, said league commissioner Qin Xiaowen.

Wang Aiping, coach of the Guangdong Leopards, echoed that sentiment.

"Over the past 17 years I have witnessed the development of Chinese baseball which started with prosperity and exuberance, then endured some rough spots before finally leading to today's new start," Wang said.

"Baseball developed in the 'system' in China, which put much of its focus on the Olympics. When the sport was taken out of the Games after Beijing 2008, it was a major setback but baseball will return to the Tokyo Olympics next year, which is a big boost for us."

Wang said the league's reboot could not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of every Chinese player, adding: "A growing number of Chinese are showing interest in the game, especially in schools. I think that will continue, and more people will become involved."

The players are equally enthused.

"I was looking forward to the start of the professional tournament," said Du Xiaolei, who helped the Jiangsu Huge Horse beat the Guangdong Leopards 11-8 before an appreciative crowd of around 3,000 in Wuxi on Aug 16. "It is the moment that an athlete can show his value, and we need more such opportunities."

The 29-year-old said he wasn't satisfied with his initial performance, but he's confident of improving as the season plays out.

"As a professional player, I hope to keep playing baseball at a high level and to contribute to its development in China," he added.

The CNBL season will see each of the four teams play 36 games in a balanced home-and-away schedule over seven weeks.

The top two teams will clash in a best-of-five championship final in late October.

According to Chinese Baseball Association statistics, the number of people engaged in the sport here has topped 1 million, largely attributable to a current baseball craze in schools.

"There's been a boom in Chinese teenagers playing the game in recent years, with a number of leagues and tournaments being launched from primary schools to high schools," said Ma Zhenxin, GM of Jiangsu Huge Horse.

He also noted that a number of private clubs have sprung up, including more than 30 in Nanjing, Changzhou, Yangzhou, Wuxi, Suzhou and other cities in Jiangsu province.

At the grassroots level, Ma said Jiangsu Huge Horse has spared no effort to deepen its talent pool.

"I learned to play baseball more than 10 years ago, when I was in primary school," said Chen Lei, a local university graduate and a baseball enthusiast.

"The new CNBL is great for the game, and I'm convinced that more Chinese will participate in the sport in the future."

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2019-08-21 07:34:01
<![CDATA[Rafa refutes claim money was his main motivation]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/21/content_37504071.htm New Dalian Yifang head coach Rafa Benitez has hit back at claims from Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley that he only moved to China for the money, instead referring to the Chinese Super League side as his "best option".

Having won praise for establishing the Magpies in the Premier League on a meager budget, Benitez left St James' Park after his contract ended in June to sign a two-and-a-half-year deal with Dalian reportedly worth around $14.5 million per year.

That prompted Ashley to accuse the Spaniard of being motivated primarily by money and "taking the soft option".

However, in an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Benitez responded to Ashley, saying he turned down several more lucrative offers while still under contract at Newcastle.

"I was not happy when he was talking about me leaving Newcastle because of the money," Benitez said.

"I said no to very, very big offers, and even last year, I was saying no to big offers. But I decided to stay because of the fans, the city and the potential.

"We were waiting for a solution at Newcastle which was not forthcoming. We had options (to go to different clubs) but when we had to decide, it was a very simple decision because Dalian was the best option we had.

"People were saying it was because of big money, but Dalian pushed really hard to get me and my staff, and we are really pleased because they showed so much interest."

Benitez, a Champions League winner with Liverpool in 2005, said his decision to join Dalian was swayed by the club's commitment to investing in youth and training facilities, areas he felt were neglected at Newcastle.

"I am a professional and I want to win, but I also want to build something and leave a legacy," noted the 59-year-old.

"Dalian's training ground and its project with the youth system is amazing. This year, we are creating (soccer) schools for 6-10 year olds, bringing in coaches from Spain, so we will organize everything in terms of the academy and youth system."

In coming to Dalian, Benitez is reunited with former players Marek Hamsik and Salomon Rondon, who played under the Spaniard at Napoli and Newcastle respectively.

While the influx of established foreign stars to the CSL in recent years has turned many heads, Benitez stressed it is the league's homegrown players who hold the key to any success a team may have.

"The Chinese players make the difference, because there are eight of them on the pitch," said Benitez, citing CSL regulations restricting the number of imports on the field to three.

"The foreign players can win some games, but you have to be sure that the others keep you in the game. You can try to find the best foreign players, but the key is to have very good Chinese players with the right mentality."

Semifinal loss

Since taking over at Dalian on July 2, Benitez has seen the team climb from 10th to seventh in the CSL standings, although its CFA Cup progress was tempered by a 3-2 semifinal loss to Shanghai Shenhua on Monday night.

Slovakian playmaker Hamsik headed home to break the deadlock for the host at Dalian Sports Center. However, a brace from former AC Milan and Roma forward Stephan El Shaarawy put Shenhua ahead 2-1 at the break.

Substitute Giovanni Moreno slotted home to all but seal Shenhua's passage in the 61st minute, although Zheng Long's late strike made for a nervous final six minutes for the visitor.

Meanwhile, back in northeast England, Newcastle looks like it is in for a season of prolonged struggle.

The Magpies are already in the relegation zone after losing their opening two Premier League matches - to Arsenal and newly promoted Norwich City.

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2019-08-21 07:34:01
<![CDATA[Digest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/21/content_37504070.htm Soccer

Solskjaer cuts Pogba some slack over miss

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer refused to pin blame on Paul Pogba after the Manchester United star missed a penalty in Monday's 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton.

Ruben Neves had canceled out Anthony Martial's first-half opener for United opener before Pogba was tripped to earn a 67th-minute spot-kick. The Frenchman, however, saw his 12-yard effort saved by Wolves keeper Rui Patricio.

It was the fourth missed penalty by Pogba since the start of last season. The midfielder appeared to tell Marcus Rashford that he wanted to take it, even though his teammate had scored from the spot the previous week at Chelsea.

United manager Solskjaer said both Pogba and Rashford are responsible for penalty-taking duties.

"It's up to them there and then who feels 'this is mine'," said Solskjaer. "Sometimes players just feel they are confident enough to score. Paul has scored so many penalties for us and today Rui Patricio made a good save."

Coutinho joins Bayern on one-year loan deal

Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho has joined Bayern Munich on a oneyear loan worth $9.5 million with an option to buy for around $100 million, the Spanish club confirmed on Monday.

The 27-year-old Brazilian joined Barcelona from Liverpool in January 2018 for an initial $133 million in a deal that included another $45 million in potential add-ons.

But the international midfielder's stint at Barcelona never worked out as hoped despite huge excitement around his arrival at Camp Nou.

"I have a huge challenge in front of me here, and hope to stay a long time and win many titles," said the 27-year-old Coutinho, who has been given permission by Arjen Robben to wear the Dutchman's 'retired' No 10 jersey this season.

Basketball

Curry steps up to finance college golf

Three-time NBA champion Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors said on Monday he will sponsor Howard University's first top-level golf program for the next six years.

Curry, a six-time NBA All-Star guard and avid golfer, was inspired to make the contribution by Otis Ferguson, a senior at the Washington DC university who Curry met during a campus visit earlier this year.

Ferguson had been campaigning to establish a golf team at Howard. He found a backer in Curry, who decided to establish men's and women's golf at the black college.

Curry also persuaded golf equipment manufacturer Callaway to promise equipment and sport apparel giant Under Armour, who are one of his sponsors, to provide uniforms.

Barea preparing for comeback with Mavs

Veteran point guard JJ Barea has signed a new contract with the Dallas Mavericks, the team announced on Monday.

Contract terms were not provided, but Barea told ESPN it's a one-year deal.

The 6-foot, 185-pounder sustained a season-ending ruptured right Achilles tendon against the Minnesota Timberwolves in January, but he expects to be cleared to for full participation during training camp.

A return by September would be considerably sooner than most comebacks from such an injury.

In his 13th season in the league, with all but three of them in Dallas, Barea averaged 10.9 points and 5.6 assists as the Mavericks' sixth man in 2018-19.

He became just the seventh Puerto Rican to play in the NBA when he joined the Mavs in 2006.

Ice Hockey

Ho-Sang inks deal to stay with Islanders

Restricted free-agent forwards Joshua Ho-Sang and Michael Dal Colle agreed to contracts with the New York Islanders on Monday.

Financial terms were not released.

Ho-Sang, 23, had two points (one goal, one assist) in 10 regular-season games with the Islanders last season and 43 points (eight goals, 35 assists) in 56 games with Bridgeport of the American Hockey League.

Selected in the first round (28th overall) of the 2014 draft, the Toronto native has 24 points (seven goals, 17 assists) in 53 NHL games.

Ho-Sang's father is of Jamaican and Chinese descent and played professional tennis in Canada. His mother is Chilean.

Dal Colle, 23, had seven points (three goals, four assists) in 28 regular-season games with the Islanders last season.

The No 5 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft has seven points in 32 regular-season games and is expected to compete for a full-time roster spot this season.

Tennis

Serena set to begin 2020 in Auckland

Serena Williams is set to begin her 2020 season at the WTA's ASB Classic in Auckland in January.

Organizers of the ASB Classic announced the entry of the 23-time major winner on Tuesday.

The 37-year-old Williams has played the hardcourt tournament once before, losing in the second round in 2017.

On that occasion Williams' experience of the Auckland tournament was not a happy one. She complained about the wind and the cold weather, saying "it's my least favorite conditions I've ever played in".

Williams announced her engagement to fiancee Alexis Ohanian during her stay in Auckland and told reporters on Tuesday her memories of the city are "amazing".

Xinhua - Agencies

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2019-08-21 07:34:01
<![CDATA[A man of culinary import]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/18/content_37502894.htm Three-Michelin-starred American chef Christopher Kostow didn't quite know what to expect from his first visit to Shenzhen, Guangdong province, last July.

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There were no barriers to the ambitions of a duo of Shenzhen restaurateurs, who flew in a US superstar chef with a consuming passion for fusion to helm their Napa-Cantonese startup, Li Yingxue reports.

Three-Michelin-starred American chef Christopher Kostow didn't quite know what to expect from his first visit to Shenzhen, Guangdong province, last July.

The southern Chinese tech hub, which is home to innovation giants like Tencent, Huawei and DJI, was a much greener city than he had imagined.

"It's incredibly clean and orderly, with a big focus on sustainability," the 43-year-old chef says.

He was invited there to take the helm of a new restaurant that aims to stand out as a beacon of excellence in South China's culinary landscape. After sampling authentic Cantonese cuisine, he was soon impressed by the variety and freshness of the local ingredients, and promptly agreed.

After more than a year of preparation and some $7 million in investment, on Aug 10 Shenzhen welcomed its first restaurant, Ensue, fronted by the recipient of the culinary world's highest honor. Representing the next step in Kostow's culinary evolution, Ensue combines California's farm-to-table culture and techniques with Cantonese tastes and ingredients.

According to Kostow, the name was chosen since the word "ensue" implies constant motion, continuation and striving for results.

"Shenzhen is a city full of challenges and opportunities. I'm honored to be a pioneer of the fine-dining industry here - the opportunity to share my cooking philosophy and provide a unique dining experience is humbling," says Kostow.

Kostow's philosophy of cooking is product-driven - his aim is simply to let the ingredients shine.

As one of the world's elite chefs, who has maintained three Michelin stars for over nine years, Kostow's outlook developed at Hamilton College in New York before he moved to the kitchen in 1999.

Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Kostow trained across Europe and North America. Kostow was awarded two Michelin stars while heading up his first kitchen at Chez TJ in San Francisco.

He earned his third star in 2011 at The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley, California, becoming one of the youngest US-born chefs to earn the culinary world's highest accolade.

The Restaurant at Meadowood has held onto its three Michelin stars every year since 2011. Kostow was also named Best Chef: West by the prestigious James Beard Foundation and has appeared on numerous occasions on top television programs.

His first book, A New Napa Cuisine, was named Book of the Year in 2015 by the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

Ensue represents Kostow's first foray into Asia. And through this new venture, its founders, Li Taohui and He Yulin, aspire to elevate the dining scene in Shenzhen and turn their home city into a world-class culinary destination.

"As I was growing up in Shenzhen, I always dreamed of creating a fine-dining restaurant here. With Kostow's philosophical way of thinking, his understanding of our local ingredients, the sophisticated layering structure of his dishes and his respect for Chinese culture, I truly believe Ensue can become a top-tier restaurant globally," says Li.

As people become wealthier and more overseas students choose to return, He believes that Shenzhen has the potential to embrace more high-end restaurants to offer diners the opportunity to develop their culinary tastes.

Having already opened Cantonese and Japanese fine-dining restaurants in Shenzhen, the duo felt the city was lacking in a comparable high-end Western eatery.

Since 2017, Li and He have been meeting with dozens of Michelin-starred chefs around the world. But it was only when they met Kostow in Napa last January that the duo realized they had found the ideal chef for their restaurant.

He was impressed by Kostow's modesty and willingness to take time to learn about a different food culture, despite being a world-renowned chef.

Li and He invited Kostow to visit Shenzhen in July 2018. They showed him around the city to taste the local food and explore the local markets.

"Kostow wanted to try everything in the market - some of the vegetables are similar to the ones in the United States but with totally different shapes and flavors. He'd never seen ingredients like bitter gourd or luffa," He recalls.

When Kostow was back in the US, he read the books about Cantonese cuisine sent to him by the duo to help him prepare the menu. "It is very important to understand the Cantonese palate," says Kostow.

In Napa, Kostow grows most of the ingredients in his own garden. In Shenzhen, besides imported beef and truffles, he only uses local ingredients. He aims to cooperate with local farms in the future.

"The products here are great. And, more importantly, they are sustainable," says Kostow.

Kostow led his team to design the menu for Ensue at Napa, and when they arrived in Shenzhen last month, they adjusted the menu according to the available local ingredients.

"I did a lot of tastings to get feedback to make sure we're speaking to the local audience," says Kostow.

He likes to hear about people's perceptions of cuisine. For example, while turbot is considered a luxurious item in the West, it's commonplace in Shenzhen.

"Coming to China is interesting - and to a city that has all sort of potential in terms of number of the people, its affluence, proximity to Hong Kong and its role in tech world. And yet, there was nothing here (a few decades ago), so it seemed like an interesting idea," says Kostow.

Ensue is located on the 40th floor of the Futian Shangri-La Hotel, which is 14 minutes away from West Kowloon in Hong Kong by high-speed train. The venue was designed by architect Chris Shao and his Chris Shao Studios in New York. It combines elements of Chinese luxury with the natural beauty of Napa Valley.

The restaurant currently serves a five-or nine-course set dinner five nights a week and represents Kostow's understanding of the Cantonese palate.

The dinner starts with raw white clams, fermented daikon rice and leek oil. The clams from the South China Sea are freshly shucked and cleaned, while the daikon is lacto-fermented in a way similar to Chinese pickled vegetables, before it's juiced, frozen and shaved into the rice.

Water-turtle soup steeped with aromatics from the Chinese pantry is another highlight of the dinner. It's served in a terrine molded by a turtle shell with Australian winter truffles, baby pearl onions and allium flowers.

"I've never used turtle to cook before," says Kostow.

Local turbot steamed with red lilies and organic vegetables is one of Kostow's responses to Cantonese preferences, and the steaming technique has inspired him to take it back to his restaurant in Napa.

Kostow has said that northern Californian cooking is about "using the best products you can source locally and showcasing them as best you can. It really is that simple."

He finds it interesting that Cantonese cuisine has a lot in common with Californian cooking.

"Cantonese cuisine is very fresh, light, subtle and is very similar to cooking in California, which I didn't expect," he says.

Kostow knows that aromas play an important part in Cantonese cuisine, as do spices - and, sometimes, their absence.

"I'm not cooking Cantonese cuisine. I can only cook in a style that shows an understanding of the Cantonese palate," says Kostow.

Contact the writer at liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2019-08-18 10:47:41
<![CDATA[Millions of visitors pour in for Qingdao beer fest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/18/content_37502893.htm The 29th Qingdao International Beer Festival, which concludes on Sunday, is being held at Golden Beach Beer City in the Xihai'an (West Coast) New Area in the city's Huangdao district.

Initiated in 1991 and hailed as Asia's Oktoberfest, the Qingdao festival is the largest of its kind in Asia and one of China's biggest tourism events.

Over 300,000 people attended the event's opening day on July 26, and more than 5 million visitors consumed over 2,150 metric tons of beer by Tuesday.

Nine beer tents have been set up in the Golden Beach Beer City, bringing together more than 1,400 beer brands from such countries as China, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada and South Korea.

Local beer brand Qingxi King featured at the event for the first time. It is the only beer that is produced at the venue tent, so visitors can watch the whole process.

According to Yang Shimin, manager of the Qingxi King beer tent, the tent covers an area of 1,800 square meters and serves six types of beer.

"Our IPA is a classic one that's made with hops from the United States and has a flavor of fruits," Yang says.

"Our barley ale uses barley from the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. It has a brown-red color and rich foam."

Outside the tent, there is also a beer garden with 12 snack booths.

"We are happy to see our tent get so popular since this is the first time we are taking part in the beer festival, and each day we serve around 15,000 visitors," Yang says.

Meanwhile, the International Beer Festival Alliance was founded on the opening day of the festival, and aims to build an international platform for beer festivals and cultural exchanges.

The alliance comprises representatives from the Munich Oktoberfest, the Great American Beer Festival, Toronto's Festival of Beer and the Qingdao International Beer Festival.

The Qingdao International Beer Products Fair is also held in the city and connects beer producers, dealers and raw-materials suppliers.

Dai Zhendong, manager of Hade Beer House, says his company has struck deals to sell more than 300 sets of brewing equipment with a total value of 324 million yuan ($46 million).

"This product fair helps us to find partners not only around China but also from the whole world," Dai says, adding that the duration of the festival also allowed his firm to show the brewing process.

Besides beer tents, more than 400 events, including musical shows, electronic sports and performances, are held during the 24-day event.

An e-game tent allows young visitors to play augmented-reality games.

The festival featured parades in the 1990s. This year's event featured a 19-float parade.

This year's festival has been included as part of the city's International Fashion Season, a citywide campaign initiated by the local government that aims to improve Qingdao's fame as a fashion metropolis.

Contact the writers at xiechuanjiao@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Beer lovers gather in the coastal city of Qingdao in Shandong province for the annual international beer festival, which runs through Sunday. Photos provided to China Daily

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2019-08-18 10:47:41
<![CDATA[League of our own looking to long term]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/17/content_37502844.htm Revamped pro competition off to encouraging start as fresh MLB input offers extra hope

Were it not for the sharp crack of the bat, the raucous cheers and drumrolls emanating from Tuanpo Sports Center in Tianjin on Thursday could easily have been mistaken for the noise of a top professional soccer match.

To the surprise of media and even the players, nearly 3,000 fans turned up for the opening match of the China National Baseball League's new season - a welcome boost for everyone involved with the sport here.

"Today the vibe in the stadium was electrifying, making us so nervous but in a good way," said Tianjin Lions' pitcher Du Xiaoci after helping the host beat the Beijing Tigers 3-2 in the opener.

"For athletes like us playing baseball in China, we've been used to playing with little attention, but the new league gives us a stage and a spotlight that we never imagined we could have before," added the 27-year-old national team member.

The revamped four-club league has stepped up to the plate for a third swing at becoming a fully fledged pro program.

Originally established in 2002, the competition was suspended in 2011 and 2017 due to a lack of funding and exposure.

Now there is renewed hope a partnership between the CNBL and Major League Baseball can make the difference this time around.

"For any sport aspiring for long-term growth, it's necessary to have a pro league system established on the top for kids to look up to and to aim for," CNBL commissioner Qin Xiaowen said at the signing ceremony for the agreement in Tianjin on Thursday. "Even though we are far off the professional standards set by the MLB, we are optimistic that with their help we can grow our league into a solid component of our pyramid system."

The new partnership will see the MLB lend its expertise on league management, talent development, competition operation, marketing and broadcasting.

"We share the same understanding that a pro league is essential if China is to become a baseball-playing nation," said Jim Small, senior vice-president of the MLB's international business.

"What we've done is to share the information on how we are set up and how the MLB is operated. From the league standpoint, we've given them some information that we don't share with a lot of people because of the trust we have in China.

"We also share the best practice when it comes to how to market, how to sell tickets and how to show a baseball game on television - things that will make fans' experience more enjoyable."

The goal is to enable the league to stand on its own two feet, without the help of the State-run sports system.

Turning this dream into a reality, however, will not be easy.

Despite the establishment of a league company encompassing the Chinese Baseball Association and its operating partner, Shougang Sports, the competition still features the same four original teams - Beijing, Tianjin, Guangdong and Jiangsu - from 2002, underlining a degree of stagnancy in terms of the sport's development in China.

The four teams will play home and away for 18 rounds over seven weeks before the top two clubs square off in a best-of-five final in late October.

"Although understaffed at the moment, to keep a league running smoothly is critical for motivating youth to stay in the sport to feed the league with talent in the long run," said Chen Xu, president of the CBA.

At grassroots level, the MLB, which established a Beijing office in 2007, has helped cultivate a domestic talent pool through its three development centers in East China's Jiangsu province.

Since the first DC opened in Wuxi in 2009, a total of seven Chinese prospects have graduated through the system to sign tryout or minor-league contracts with MLB clubs, including 'Itchy' Xu Guiyuan (with the Baltimore Orioles in 2015) and 'Sea' Gong Haicheng (with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2017).

While none of the Chinese prospects have seen MLB action, around 20 have suited up for teams in the CNBL this season.

The MLB's help in better identifying the right sort of talent to nurture will be vital, said Kim Ng, a senior vice-president of baseball operations with the league.

"We also help advising on the scouting side, such as how to look for specific characteristics in players and profile them in who will be able to succeed in the league later on," she said.

With the CNBL relaunched and the sport included in the Olympics again at next year's Tokyo Games, baseball is on its way to joining the sports mainstream in China, reckons Small.

"I am absolutely convinced that everybody in China is a baseball fan and they just don't know it yet," said the 57-year-old.

sunxiaochen@chinadaily.com.cn

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2019-08-17 07:29:29
<![CDATA[Refocused Shanxi rising from ashes of its industrial past]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/17/content_37502843.htm

On Aug 10, the soccer competition of the Second National Youth Games was held at Xishan Aoshen Sports City in Taiyuan, Shanxi province.

Comprised of four 11-a-side and three five-a-side pitches, the modern complex, complete with red seats, green turf and colorful runways, is a symbol of rebirth in an area that had previously been little more than a disposal site for toxic chemicals and other harmful substances.

"Before, there was nothing here but an abandoned storehouse," said Wang Chunkai, a cleaner who has lived in the area formerly known as Shangyeyu village for decades.

Some 400 meters away from the pitches lie the remains of caves and houses that villagers had lived in. Before the new facility was built, there was a long and narrow gully mixed with soil and fly ash, an unpleasant legacy of the region's previous reliance on coal mining.

On sunny days, villagers would walk through clouds of dust, and on rainy days their clothes would be caked in mud.

In 2000, the entire village of Shangyeyu was relocated but the gully remained. Later, a power plant was built, burning three millions tons of coal and producing 6,000 tons of fly ash annually. It was eventually shut down in 2017.

"Years ago, during spring and fall, the strong winds up on the hills blew the fly ash into the village and into our homes," said Zhang Xiujuan, a former Shangyeyu resident. "Every time I came in from outside, I had ash all over my face and inside my mouth. I could not even wear any light-colored clothing."

But despite the gloomy outlook, a rainbow soon appeared on the Shangyeyu horizon - in 2017, the site was selected to host the soccer tournament at the Youth Games.

Through pollution control, ecological restoration and site construction, the fly ash storehouse was transformed into a sports park.

Now, 20-year-old Zhang works as a volunteer at the Youth Games. With the ash and mud of the past now a distant memory, today she can wear an all-white uniform to work without worries that it will be smudged or stained by pollution.

The construction of the soccer complex has also benefitted local villagers financially, with many obtaining employment as cleaners and maintenance workers.

The environmental improvement and guaranteed incomes are enticing many former villagers to return.

"In the past, many of us left due to the bad conditions," said local resident Zhao Jinfen. "But now our hometown is much cleaner and more beautiful than before. The ones who left must want to come back now. Everyone would love to see their hometown become a better place."

According to Wang Linrong, design department chief at Xishan Aoshen Corporation, the new venues are just the first steps in a bigger plan. It is hoped the region will one day become a sports town spanning many square kilometers.

Sitting on a seat in the stadium complex, 61-year-old villager Meng Yue watches the action avidly and remarks: "I never dreamed I would be able to watch a great soccer match here, a place I hated before."

Xinhua

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2019-08-17 07:29:29
<![CDATA[Zhang, Dou primed for Portland push]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/09/content_37500393.htm Chinese pair, going in opposite directions on Korn Ferry Tour, are aiming to secure PGA Tour cards in Oregon

China's Zhang Xinjun and Dou Zecheng played Wednesday's practice round together at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Oregon, but they're at opposite ends of the spectrum as this week's WinCo Foods Portland Open wraps up the Korn Ferry Tour regular season.

With two victories under his belt, the 32-year-old Zhang finds himself atop the tour points list - and a guaranteed return to the PGA Tour next season.

Meanwhile, Dou sits 26th on the Korn Ferry points list, with the top 25 players at the conclusion of this week earning PGA Tour cards. The 2016 PGA Tour Series-China player of the year is 24 points outside the qualifying limit, but a topfive finish in Portland would almost certainly be enough to make it.

Dou is realistic about what this week means to him: A strong four rounds here, and he will join Zhang on the PGA Tour.

"Although I'm 26th, I have a really good chance of getting my card this year," Dou said. "I want to get my card, but if I don't I won't be super mad or anything. I'll just think that I need to look to my next opportunity. So, if I finish No 26, that means I'll be No 1 going into the finals."

The finals are for players who finish 26-100 on the Korn Ferry Tour points list. They join the 75 players (126-200) who didn't qualify for the PGA Tour's FedExCup Playoffs for a three-tournament playoff.

The top 25 points earners in that trio of tournaments qualify for PGA Tour membership. "That will be my second opportunity," Dou said of the Korn Ferry Tour finals if things don't go the way he hopes this week. "If it doesn't work out, I'll come back out here next year."

Zhang said his breakout performance was at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in Shanghai in 2011, where he tied for 13th with Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood. But he knows he's a much better player today than eight years ago at Sheshan International. "At that time, my basics were not as solid as they are right now. Back then, I would have some good weeks, but I would also have some bad weeks. After I played on the PGA Tour Series-China, I got more systematic in my approach to the game and I began working on the areas that needed improvement - especially my consistency," Zhang said.

"Since then, once I got to the US, I feel like I really improved my mental game, and I'm much stronger now than I used to be."

Zhang also expects a different result when he returns to the PGA Tour. In his rookie year, he finished 167th in Fed-ExCup points, made only 12 cuts in 28 appearances and posted just one top-10 finish.

"I realize the great opportunity I have to finish No 1 this season. That would be the best thing," Zhang added. "Compared to last year, I feel I'm just more relaxed. Last year, I was playing with a lot of expectations and trying so hard to keep my card. That put a lot of pressure on me.

"But now I feel I'm much more relaxed about things. I just focus on my play and not think about the results. This really helps me."

Dou is in the second group that tees off on Thursday morning, playing with American Bo Hoag and 2018 PGA Tour Series-China player of the year Callum Tarren.

Zhang tees off in the afternoon, playing with John Merrick and Taylor Moore.

 

Zhang Xinjun, current points leader on this year's Korn Ferry Tour and a two-time champion, has already earned his PGA Tour card for next season. Laury Livsey / PGA Tour

 

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2019-08-09 07:49:30
<![CDATA[Five-time Olympic champ Adrian taking the fight to cancer]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/09/content_37500392.htm LIMA, Peru - Five-time Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian of the US says his success won't be on his mind at the end of his life.

Maybe that would have been him some years ago. But not now, not since his latest race.

This time, it's to beat cancer.

"It has completely changed my outlook. At the end of my time on Earth, whenever that may be, I don't think the first thing on my mind is going to be how many gold medals I've won," Adrian told Associated Press before his first race at the ongoing Pan American Games in Lima.

"I'm actually very confident of that, whereas you know, maybe five or six years ago, my answer might've changed a little bit," said Adrian. "So, my priorities are still competing and achieving at the highest level, certainly. But to take a deep breath, or to try to enjoy the company of those around me, that's something that I'm trying to be aware of as much as possible."

Adrian was diagnosed with testicular cancer in December.

"My reaction was probably what most people experience, a little bit of everything, you know - being scared, being a little bit angry, just questioning why? Like wondering if I had called my mom enough," he said with a smile.

"All sorts of things, and it was just like a roller coaster, like I couldn't really control it, so I just kind of let it happen."

Doctors told him the cancer had been caught early and he begun treatment. A month later, he underwent surgery, and decided to continue to train for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The 30-year-old earned silver in the 4x100m medley relay at the recent world championships in Gwangju, South Korea. It felt like victory for Adrian, who was competing just months after the cancer diagnosis.

"I'm still in the process of conquering it," he said. "Between a couple of surgeries, treatment and ongoing surveillance, here we are, a little more than six months later, and I just feel fortunate to compete."

The 30-year-old said he's also looking forward to his first Pan American Games.

"I feel good. I left the worlds about a week ago, and then we're here to compete again. I've never been to a Pan American Games so it's really cool," Adrian said near the tournament's pool.

"It's a mini Olympics, so it's a really a very special feeling."

At the 2012 Olympics, Adrian won the 100m freestyle. Four years later, he earned bronze in Rio de Janeiro. He has four other Olympic gold medals as part of US relay teams.

Adrian has been swimming since the age of 2, and competitively, since the age of 5.

The decision to get back in the pool had the backing of his loved ones, including his wife, Hallie Ivester, his parents, Jim and Cecilia Adrian, and his siblings, Donella and Justin, who also swam competitively.

Everyone is rooting for him back in his hometown of Bremerton, Washington, where a street was named after him.

"I think my family knew how important it was for me to get back to competing just for my own mental and emotional health," he said.

"I think for anybody who goes through an adverse health condition, the quicker you can get back to what makes you feel normal, what makes you feel good, the better."

The process has been "really tough", he said. "You get diagnosed, and then you don't really know or have any information besides that you have cancer."

He said the wait seems long until the scans are read because sometimes doctors are backed up.

"And it's tough mentally and emotionally, because you're like, 'Man, maybe this is spread, or maybe we caught it early?'"

Endurance is everything to a swimmer. But Adrian said he's been in touch online with others who endured the same things he has outside of the pool.

"A lot of my messaging to this point has been for men out there: If you feel that something is going on, you have to go see a doctor," he said.

"A lot of guys wait. They feel something going on there, and then they wait until their treatment options are a little narrower and the prognosis isn't quite as good. But if they get in there early, and early detection is key, hopefully everyone can live a little bit longer."

As in any race, his goal is to beat cancer as quickly as possible. His other goals are also clear.

"In the future? Of course Tokyo 2020," he said.

"And then for life - probably spending a little more time at home with my wife and a little less time on the road training and competing, once this is all over."

Associated Press

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2019-08-09 07:49:30
<![CDATA['Great 8' likes what he sees in China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/09/content_37500391.htm NHL superstar Ovechkin hopes to be back to represent Russia at Olympics

Alexander the Great is starring as the National Hockey League's official representative in China.

After hosting youth clinics, climbing the Great Wall and feasting on Peking duck, Alex Ovechkin, superstar captain of the Washington Capitals, has ticked off almost everything on his bucket list during his visit to Beijing.

 

Alexander Ovechkin, captain of the Washington Capitals and the NHL's official ambassador to China, exchanges high-fives with kids at a youth camp in Beijing on Monday. Provided to China Daily

Known as 'The Great 8', Ovechkin arrived in the capital on Aug 4 for a weeklong trip to promote hockey by taking part in youth clinics, interviews and business meetings. He also got a firsthand look at facilities for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

The NHL's reluctance to temporarily suspend its regular season to allow the world's best players to compete at the Games has sparked concerns about the tournament's quality, and a financial standoff with the International Olympic Committee over payments for travel, insurance and other considerations has furthered muddied the issue.

But Ovechkin, who missed the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics due to the NHL boycott, is hopeful the rift with the IOC can be mended in time for Beijing 2022.

"The NHL Players Association and the league are going to talk about it. I hope we are going to have some conversations and that the results will be good," said the 33-year-old native of Moscow, who suited up for Russia at the 2006, 2010 and 2014 Games.

He added that the prospect of winning an Olympic medal for his country would be even more thrilling than leading the Capitals to the Stanley Cup in 2018.

"When you win the Stanley Cup, it's for a team ... but when you play at the Olympic Games or the world championships, you represent your country. It's a totally different motivation," he said on Wednesday.

The first overall draft pick by the Caps in the 2004, Ovechkin has notched 658 goals and 553 assists in 1,084 games. A three-time league MVP, he also won the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs en route to the franchise's first Stanley Cup, becoming the first Russian to captain a league champion.

With 51 goals last season, he won his eighth Maurice Richard Trophy as the NHL's top sniper, eclipsing Bobby Hull for the most times leading the league in goals.

"We are very excited that Alex is joining us in China this summer," said David Proper, NHL executive vice-president of media and international strategy. "He represents the best in sports, epitomizing that combination of great talent, great personality and great sportsmanship. He is the perfect person to represent the NHL's efforts to grow hockey in China."

Throughout Ovechkin's eventful stay in Beijing, during which he dropped the puck for China's inaugural domestic league and hosted multiple clinics at Shougang Hockey Arena and Cadillac Center, both 2022 Olympic venues, he also signed autographs, high-fived and posed for photos with adoring fans who showered him with chants of "Ovi! Ovi!".

For 11-year-old Huang Shirui, a fifth-grader attending the Experimental School Affiliated to Beijing No 20 High School, interacting with one of the greatest players in NHL history was a huge motivation to keep pursuing his hockey dream.

"I never imagined that one day I could learn Ovi's shot, standing side by side with him. It made my day and inspires me to continue working hard," Huang said after taking part in a ball hockey session with the superstar on Wednesday.

Ovechkin said he was impressed by China's strong commitment to taking hockey into the nation's sports mainstream, but stressed the need to anchor it to a solid foundation.

"Hockey in China is just in the beginning of a long process," he said. "You have to do smart things, like building rinks, bringing in experienced coaches and starting all the preparations in the right way.

"With such a huge population, China is very important to our sport. If hockey can get a foothold here, it will help it go all over the world."

Ovechkin's trip to Beijing came a year after the legendary Wayne Gretzky visited as a partner of Chinese club Kunlun Red Star.

Gretzky, who retired in 2000 as the NHL's all-time leading scorer and holder of more than 40 records, similarly expressed a desire to see NHL players at the 2022 Olympics.

"The doors are still open," Andy Ecker, the International Ice Hockey Federation's Asia manager, said during the IIHF Asian Hockey summer camp earlier this week in Beijing.

"We believe it's still possible for the NHL to come to an agreement that competing in Beijing is beneficial for the long run."

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2019-08-09 07:49:30
<![CDATA[Taking aim at the summit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/09/content_37500390.htm As a fashionable new addition to the Olympic roster, sport climbing has been steadily scaling new heights in recent years.

Its growing popularity was abundantly evident this week in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, where the nation's best young climbers tested their skills at the Second Youth Games of the People's Republic of China.

"It's my summer vacation, and it's great to come here to compete," enthused ninth-grader Chung Manhei from Hong Kong.

 

Chung Man-hei of Hong Kong competes in the bouldering competition during the Second Youth Games in Taiyuan, Shanxi province. Wang Zhuangfei / China Daily

"I practice climbing three days a week and each day I spend four hours training for the sport."

The 15-year-old has ambitions to reach the very top in the grueling discipline.

"For sure, I want to become a pro climber," said Chung. "One day my father told me he read news about the opening of a climbing gym in Hong Kong, and he took me to have a try. Ever since my first climbing experience three years ago, I fell in love with the sport.

"Both strength and skills matter for a climber, and my priority now is to build better body strength. I'm a rookie, there's still a gap between me and the true pros. After I get into high school, I'll keep chasing this dream."

Fellow 15-year-old Zhang Jiajie, from Shanghai, one of Chung's opponents on Wednesday, harbors similar dreams.

"I usually train for one hour each day after school and spend half a day doing sports each weekend," said Zhang.

"I train in Shanghai and travel to different places for competitions. The next big tournament for me will be the Asian Combined Youth Championships later this year.

"Climbing is now an Olympic event. I'm confident I will be picked for the national team, and my family will always support me to do climbing. It's hard sometimes, but I just need to keep going."

The Youth Games also attracted a local Shanxi team that was established last October.

"I only started to climb last year," said 16-year-old Liu Keyan, one of the team's most promising members. "It's been a tough journey, but I always put in extra effort and push myself to be better and better."

That sort of dedication is a must in this unforgiving sport.

"The climbers need to have great body strength," said Zhao Jiang, the Shanxi squad's team leader.

"It also requires flexibility and very strong elbows and muscles. Conditioning takes time. Usually, it takes three to five years to become a mature climber."

The Youth Games provide athletes with an ideal opportunity to get used to the competitive environment.

"I don't have enough experience in competitions. The Youth Games is my second big tournament," Yang Weiyuan, another member of the Shanxi team, told China Central Television. "I still get nervous, but I'm working on solving that problem."

Climbers at the Youth Games all shared the common goal of one day competing in the Olympics - vindication for the IOC's decision to include the sport in its package of new events for the Games that also includes baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding and surfing.

"We want to take sport to the youth," said IOC president Thomas Bach of the additions.

"With the many options that young people have, we can't expect they will automatically come to us anymore. We have to go to them.

"The five sports that have been added to Tokyo 2020 are an innovative combination of established and emerging, youth-focused events that are popular in Japan and will add to the legacy of the Tokyo Games."

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2019-08-09 07:49:30
<![CDATA[Digest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/09/content_37500389.htm Soccer

Uruguay great Forlan hangs up his boots

Former Uruguay international striker Diego Forlan has announced his retirement after a career spanning more than two decades.

The 40-year-old, who has not played since parting ways with Hong Kong outfit Kitchee in May 2018, said he is ready to tackle new challenges.

"After 21 years I've made the decision to end my career as a professional footballer," Forlan said on Wednesday.

"A beautiful stage has ended, full of great memories and emotions but other new challenges will begin. Thanks to all who in one way or another accompanied me on this path."

Voted the best player at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Forlan's career included spells at Manchester United, Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan and Villarreal.

He was capped 112 times for Uruguay, scoring 36 goals.

City captures Cancelo, Danilo departs for Juve

Manchester City has completed the signing of Portuguese defender Joao Cancelo from Juventus in a two-way deal that sees rightback Danilo join the Turin club.

The 25-year-old Cancelo, who reportedly cost $73 million, has signed a six-year contract. Danilo's fee was around $41 million. Cancelo follows leftback Angelino, re-signed from PSV Eindhoven, and midfielder Rodri, who arrived from Atletico Madrid, as Pep Guardiola's third acquisition of the summer.

Cancelo's career began with Benfica, where he played alongside current City winger Bernardo Silva, before heading to Valencia and then Juve in June last year.

"City are a fantastic club, with a brilliant manager and I am delighted to be here," said Cancelo.

"Everything about them has impressed me, from the facilities, to their style of play."

Basketball

Walker rejoins Warriors as their security chief

Ralph Walker is rejoining the Golden State Warriors as director of security following a year away to spend more time with his family.

The Warriors will certainly face some unpredictable challenges behind the scenes this season as they begin playing in their new San Francisco arena, Chase Center, and Walker's experience and familiarity with the operation will prove invaluable.

"Ready to assist in any way to make the team and organization productive," Walker said in a text message on Tuesday night.

A former member of the Oakland Police Department, Walker has become a fixture on the Golden State sidelines and a constant companion of Stephen Curry, staying close to the two-time MVP at home and on the road.

Durant not blaming former team for injury

Kevin Durant said on Wednesday the Golden State Warriors are not responsible for the Achilles injury that likely will force him to sit out the entire 2019-20 season.

"Hell, no. How can you blame the Warriors?" Durant told Yahoo! Sports in his first interview since sustaining the injury in Game 5 of the NBA Finals in June.

He had just returned to the court after missing nine straight postseason games with a right calf strain.

"Nobody ever said a word to me during rehab as I was coming back. It was only me and (trainer) Rick (Celebrini) working out every day. Right when the series started, I targeted Game 5. It just happened."

Durant spent three seasons with the Warriors, winning two NBA championships. He signed a four-year, $164 million free-agent deal with the Brooklyn Nets this summer.

Tennis

Osaka advances to ensure Barty bumped

Japan's Naomi Osaka advanced to the third round of the WTA Toronto tournament on Wednesday, ensuring Australia's Ashleigh Barty will be dethroned as world No 1.

Osaka, the reigning US and Australian Open champion, won after taking the first set 6-2 when Germany's Tatjana Maria retired with a left abdominal injury.

Osaka had not played a match since losing to Yulia Putintseva in the first round at Wimbledon.

The victory gives Osaka the inside track on taking the top spot in next week's new rankings.

Third-ranked Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, however, could overtake Barty, the French Open champion who lost in Toronto on Tuesday, and Osaka. Pliskova defeated 37th-ranked American Alison Riske 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-2.

Baseball

Yanks slug their way to another record

The red-hot New York Yankees added another record to their resume on Wednesday night before leaving Baltimore for good this season.

Gio Urshela's two-run homer in the fifth inning of New York's 14-2 blowout of the Orioles made it 49 Yankee home runs against Baltimore this season, breaking the previous record, set by the'56 Yankees against Kansas City.

Urshela's blast broke the game wide open and propelled the Yankees to their eighth consecutive victory - tying a season high - and 12th straight triumph over Baltimore. Urshela launched his second homer of the night in the sixth, while Kyle Higashioka contributed a pair of round-trippers and five RBIs before Cameron Maybin slugged New York's fifth home of the night in the ninth.

Xinhua - Agencies

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2019-08-09 07:49:30
<![CDATA[Shanxi celebrates in the spotlight]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/08/content_37499960.htm Next wave of China's best young athletes competing in summer, winter and combined events

It might lack the nation's big-name athletes, but the Second Youth Games of the People's Republic of China is still a big draw, showcasing some of the country's most promising future stars.

Thursday's opening ceremony at Shanxi Sports Center Stadium in Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi province, coincides with National Fitness Day and will see about 30,000 spectators sharing the excitement.

China's largest youth sports competition includes 49 events:37 for summer athletes, five for winter athletes and seven combined.

 

Cyclists take part in the men's team sprint competition for sports colleges at the Second Youth Games at the Shanxi Sports Center velodrome in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, on Wednesday. Wang Zhuangfei / China Daily

By the closing ceremony on Aug 18, 12,006 competitors from 34 delegations will have taken part, including 215 from Hong Kong and 53 from Macao. They're housed in an athletes village encompassing 15 buildings, 1,900 rooms, 9,500 beds and a three-floor canteen that seats 3,620.

While Shanxi is embracing 34 summer events and two winter events at 58 venues spread across 11 cities, competitions that cannot be held in the province due to unique venue and/or weather requirements have been staged in 16 provinces and municipalities across China since January.

Besides fostering friendship and harmony between young athletes from all backgrounds, the aim of the Games is to spotlight untapped athletic talent.

"We have added more events to the Second Youth Games and have divided each event into two groups - a sports school competition and a sports social club competition," said Zhao Xiaochun, director of Shanxi Sports Bureau.

"Athletes in the sports school groups are more professional, and most are training to be in the talent pool to represent China at future Olympics. However, there are many talented young athletes who join sports clubs, and they used to be out of our sight.

"We have also broken down many events into age groups. For example, in some we used to just have one competition for under-19.In theory, a 12-year-old could join an under-19 competition. Now we have age groups all the way from under-12 to under-19. In the first Youth Games, there were 305 gold medals. This time there are 1,868."

In addition to showcasing superb competition, the games will provide a huge boost to Shanxi's local sports development.

"Organizing such a large event is a great boost of confidence for us, and the experience we gain in the process is very valuable," said Zhao.

"The Youth Games provide us a great opportunity to build and upgrade sports venues in the city - many of which will be used to host higher-level competitions in the future.

"We are also nurturing new talent because of the expanded number of events. It's not just about athletes; it's about coaches, referees and competition management. All of those things are crucial to Shanxi's future sports development."

Volunteers are another vital ingredient. About 45,000 signed up in Shanxi, with around 2,300 taking part in the opening ceremony.

Local college student Zhang Yating serves as a volunteer in the athletes village, helping competitors from all over China get settled while serving as an unofficial ambassador for her hometown.

"It's a tiring job, but it's also meaningful and I enjoy it," Zhang told Xinhua.

"We show them the way, help them to get phone chargers, help them to copy documents and access the lost and found.

"More importantly, we communicate with young people from all over the country and help them solve problems and make friends. It's such a warm experience."

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2019-08-08 07:42:16
<![CDATA[Koepka leads sprint to PGA Tour's richest finish]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/08/content_37499959.htm

It's billed as 'Ultimate August', with an eye-popping $15 million awaiting the new FedExCup champion. And for red-hot Brooks Koepka, it could mean collecting $18 million just in bonus money by the time the dust settles.

Welcome to the conclusion of PGA Tour season, when every stroke matters and every missed shot can mean disaster.

The stars know they have everything to fight for as one of the most prestigious accolades in sports await the FedExCup champion.

Three tournaments remain out of the 46 that have seen the tour traverse the United States, Canada, Latin America and Asia over the past 11 months, cementing a legend's stature, establishing new superstars and heralding the arrival of a new generation of exciting young champions.

The all-powerful Koepka is primed to be the season's biggest winner. Following his third victory of the season at the World Golf Championships-FedEx St Jude Invitational two weeks ago, he picked up a cool $2 million bonus for winning the Wyndham Rewards Top 10, which recognizes the high achievers in the regular season that concluded with last weekend's Wyndham Championship.

The 29-year-old American then added another $1 million to his bank account for clinching the Aon Risk Reward Challenge, a new and innovative competition that highlights golf's best strategic decision-makers.

This week, the top 125 golfers from the FedExCup points list are teeing up in the make-or-break Fed-ExCup playoffs, comprised of The Northern Trust, the BMW Championship and the Playoffs Finale, which will feature the top 30 and use a stroke-based system to determine the FedExCup champion.

This season's $15 million payout to the FedExCup champion is $5 million more than what England's Justin Rose earned last year, thanks to a cash boost from FedEx, which topped up the overall bonus pool by $25 million to $60 million.

Koepka, who also won this year's CJ Cup @Nine Bridges in South Korea and the PGA Championship, is geared up for a strong finish as he enters the playoffs at No 1 on the points list.

"It's incredible. To look at what I've done this year, the consistency, trying to take my game to a new level. I've done all that. To be up there in the FedExCup with a chance in Atlanta, that's incredible," Koepka said.

Rory McIlroy, who is trying to join Tiger Woods as the only two-time FedExCup champion, is one of the contenders aiming to derail Koepka.

"You want to be as high up in the rankings as you possibly can. Obviously, there's a lot to play for. Every year, the FedExCup is getting bigger and bigger, and it's more of a target on all the guys' radar. There's a lot to play for in August," said McIlroy.

Much of this month's excitement is due to the vision of PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, who has advocated changes to the tour schedule and pushed for greater rewards to capture and expand the imagination of players, fans, sponsors, and TV and online viewers.

As previous FedExCup champions include current greats such as Woods, McIlroy, Rose, Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson and Vijay Singh, winning the season-long competition has become a priority for the new generation.

Reigning WGC-HSBC Champions and Sentry Tournament of Champions winner Xander Schauffele of the US, who enters the playoffs in third place, summed up the importance of the next three tournaments: "We have so much to play for. Everything's on the table. It's just as big as a major championship. I go to sleep thinking about those things."

Rose, who became the first Englishman to taste FedExCup glory last year, added: "Obviously the playoffs are all about volatility and bringing your game when you really need it. We've all bought in and love that concept."

Asia will have keen interest in the playoffs, with South Korean rookie Im Sung-jae currently ranked as the highest Asian on the points list in 23rd position, followed by compatriot Sung Kang in 29th and Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama in 30th.

Chinese Taipei's CT Pan, who sits 35th, broke through for his first PGA Tour win in April and is determined to make it to the Championship for the first time.

"It's been my goal for the past three years. It's all I'm trying to do, get into the Tour Championship," said Pan.

The writer is the PGA Tour's senior director of communications and is based in Kuala Lumpur. He can be reached@ChuahChooChiang@pgatourintl.com.

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2019-08-08 07:42:16
<![CDATA[Digest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/08/content_37499958.htm Soccer

Selection of Asian Cup host cities has started

The selection process to determine host cities for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup is now underway.

In June, after China was confirmed as host of the 18th edition of the tournament, as many as 20 cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Dalian declared interest in hosting matches.

Selection criteria will focus on construction of professional stadiums, youth development, soccer development indicators and the potential host's overall development.

China last hosted the AFC Asian Cup in 2004 and reached the final. At this year's tournament in the United Arab Emirates, China advanced to the quarterfinals, eventually losing 3-0 to Iran.

Koscielny bolts Arsenal to return to France

Centerback Laurent Koscielny is returning to France to join Ligue 1 side Bordeaux from Arsenal, both clubs announced on Tuesday.

Koscielny, 33, moved to Arsenal from French side Lorient in 2010. He made 353 appearances for the Gunners, winning the FA Cup in 2014,2015 and 2017. Internationally, he has won 51 caps with France, becoming a key figure in Les Bleus' starting lineup at Euro 2016 with his solid defensive performances.

"We thank Laurent for his contribution to the club and wish him all the best for the future," Arsenal said in a statement.

Cycling

Fellow racers mourn Belgium's Lambrecht

The fourth stage of the Tour de Pologne started at midday on Tuesday in Jaworzno, southern Poland, with cyclists paying homage to a Belgian colleague who died during Monday's race.

Bjorg Lambrecht fell off his bike and plunged into a culvert. He regained consciousness for a while, but later died in hospital.

The 22-year-old, who rode for Team Lotto-Soudal, was Belgium's national junior champion in 2015 and last year took part in the Vuelta a Espana, one of the three major European pro races, alongside Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France.

Basketball

Haslem will be back for 17th season with Heat

The Miami Heat re-signed forward Udonis Haslem on Tuesday, bringing him back for his 17th season with the club. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Haslem, 39, has played his entire career in Miami since joining the team as an undrafted free agent in 2003. A member of three NBA championship squads, Haslem has career averages of 7.6 points and 6.7 rebounds in 854 games.

He is Miami's all-time leader in rebounds and is second to Dwyane Wade in games played for the franchise.

Haslem, team captain for the past 12 seasons, has been an end-of-the-roster player in recent years, playing in a total of 40 games the past three seasons. He averaged 2.5 points and 2.7 rebounds in 10 games (one start) last season.

NFL

Brady puts mansion on market for megabucks

Could Tom Brady's time as a New England resident be coming to an end?

According to multiple reports on Tuesday, the Patriots quarterback and his wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, have put their nearly 10,000-square-foot mansion in suburban Boston up for sale.

The asking price for the five-bedroom, seven-bathroom custom home adjacent to a golf course is $39.5 million. The property was built in 2015 and has a playroom, gym, spa, wine room, two swimming pools and guest house among its amenities.

On Monday, Brady agreed to a two-year, $70 million contract extension with the Patriots. The 42-year-old quarterback, who has won six Super Bowl titles and is a three-time league MVP, is entering his 20th season with the club.

Xinhua - Agencies

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2019-08-08 07:42:16
<![CDATA[Heavy hitters set for a slugfest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/08/content_37499957.htm Man City, Liverpool look primed for another epic battle as EPL kicks off new season

LONDON - Manchester City has Premier League immortality in its sight as it starts its title defense this weekend, but Liverpool's burning desire to get its hands on the trophy will fuel a heavyweight battle for supremacy.

In the blue corner, treble winner City is at the peak of its power and looks capable of enjoying a period of sustained dominance not seen since Manchester United earned three straight Premier League titles from 2007-09.

But in the red corner, European champion Liverpool, chasing a first English title since 1990, has more than a puncher's chance of ending City's reign after pushing Pep Guardiola's side all the way to the final day last season.

The first blows will be landed this week as Liverpool kicks off the new Premier League campaign against promoted Norwich at Anfield on Friday, before City heads to West Ham on Saturday.

Last Sunday's no-holds-barred Community Shield clash showed the growing rivalry between England's preeminent teams, with City beating Liverpool on penalties following a 1-1 draw that underlined how little there is to separate the sides.

Adding midfielder Rodri from Atletico Madrid for a club-record $77 million gives Guardiola an even greater embarrassment of riches.

With five major trophies over the past two seasons - including Premier League crowns clinched with unprecedented hauls of 100 and then 98 points - City is the bookmakers' favorite to become only the second club to notch a hat-trick of English titles in the past 35 years, after United did it twice.

Guardiola is a keen student of soccer history and has revelled in City's record-breaking feats, so the opportunity to further bolster his team's credentials as one of England's all-time greats will not be lost on the Spaniard.

Although City has never won the Champions League and Guardiola last lifted it in 2011 with Barcelona, he said domestic bliss remains his preferred passion.

"To maintain the health and focus of the team, the most important thing is the Premier League," Guardiola said.

"It is the standout competition because it is every weekend. In the Champions League, many things can happen in one or two games.

"We will be closer to achieving in Europe when we have more Premier League titles. That is a nice process and the right process to do at Manchester City.

"If I could have one thing this season, right now, it would definitely be the title."

No hangover

It would be a surprise if Liverpool do not make City sweat right to the finish once again after bouncing back from last season's agonizing near-miss in the title race by winning its sixth European Cup.

No team has ever gathered more points without winning the Premier League than Liverpool did last season with its second-place tally of 97.

Jurgen Klopp's side lost just once in its 38 league games - crucially that defeat came against City - but its 2-0 Champions League final win over Tottenham ensured there was no title hangover.

Liverpool had the Premier League's meanest defense last season and boasts an attack featuring two of the campaign's three leading scorers in Mo Salah and Sadio Mane.

Despite that wealth of talent, Reds midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum said making a fast start is essential to stop City from establishing a stranglehold at the top.

"You just have to collect as many points as possible, especially in the beginning, and try to build a team that will be even better at the end of the season," Wijnaldum said.

"We can try to do even better than last season. Basically it starts now, because we have the whole team together."

Potential challengers to City and Liverpool are likely to be thin on the ground.

Since winning the Europa League, Chelsea has lost star playmaker Eden Hazard to Real Madrid and hired an idolized but inexperienced new manager in Frank Lampard, who is working under the club's transfer ban.

Guardiola has suggested Manchester United is a contender after making $97 million man Harry Maguire the world's most expensive defender and landing young talents Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James.

But it is hard to imagine United, which finished 32 points back of City in sixth place, bridging that gap this season.

Arsenal looks more like a pretender than a contender, while Tottenham has not invested enough to satisfy boss Mauricio Pochettino despite paying a club record of around $65 million for Lyon's Tanguy Ndombele.

Agence France-Presse

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2019-08-08 07:42:16
<![CDATA[Ones to watch: Four young stars who are ready to sparkle]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/08/content_37499956.htm With the new Premier League season kicking off on Friday, AFP Sport takes a closer look at four gifted youngsters who look ready to emerge as breakout stars over the next 10 months:

Tammy Abraham

Despite helping Chelsea win honors at the youth level, academy graduate Abraham has only appeared three times for the first team, having spent the past three seasons on loan to Bristol City, Swansea and Aston Villa.

However, the 21-year-old will compete with French veteran Olivier Giroud and Belgian Michy Batshuayi to lead the Chelsea attack this term and, in a boost to Abraham's hopes of featuring prominently, he has been given the No 9 shirt by new boss Frank Lampard.

Former Derby manager Lampard knows what he has on his hands in Abraham after the England striker netted twice for Villa against the Rams last season.

"I've got a manager here who believes in the young lads and will give you a chance if you work hard in training. That's all I needed to hear," said Abraham, who scored 26 goals during Villa's promotion-winning Championship campaign.

Phil Foden

Foden's status as the jewel of England's 2017 Under-17 World Cupwinning team is in danger of being tarnished by his lack of game time at Manchester City.

A boyhood City fan from nearby Stockport, the 19-year - old started just three Premier League matches for the treble winners last season and 11 in all competitions.

David Silva, Ilkay Gundogan, Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyne and new club-record signing Rodri all block Foden's path to more action this term, but City manager Pep Guardiola continues to lavish enough praise on the midfielder to suggest he will eventually get his chance.

"I've said many times in press conferences, but maybe not in front of him, that Phil is the most talented player I've ever seen in my career as a manager," Guardiola said.

"His only problem is sometimes his manager doesn't put him in the starting eleven. Hopefully that can improve."

Reiss Nelson

After an impressive spell on loan with Bundesliga side Hoffenheim last season, Arsenal's England Under-21 winger Nelson could be ready to make a splash at Emirates Stadium.

The 19-year-old heads a promising group of young talent emerging from Arsenal's academy that also includes midfielder Joe Willock and forward Eddie Nketiah.

Coming on as an early substitute in the Emirates Cup preseason friendly against Lyon in July, Nelson provided an injection of pace and trickery on the wings and was at the heart of almost every Arsenal attack.

Nelson remains a work in progress, but is confident of imposing himself this term and said fans would be "shocked" to see his progress.

"Arsene Wenger gave me my first Premier League start (at 18) and I was very immature," he said. "Now I have a more mature role about me."

Troy Parrott

Parrott is a 17-year-old Irish striker tipped for the top after impressing Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino during preseason.

Pochettino held Parrott back from joining Ireland's Under-19s for the European Championship in order to fast-track his development during Spurs Asian tour.

Parrott, who started up front against Juventus and Manchester United in preseason, has scored 20 goals in 30 games at youth level and the Dubliner is versatile enough to also play wide or in the No 10 role.

"If we have the squad that we have today, of course he's going to have the possibility to be with the first team," Pochettino said of a player who could benefit if Harry Kane is beset by more ankle problems.

Parrott has featured in several first-team squads but has yet to make his debut. He has already made his mark in a north London derby against Arsenal - by getting sent off for Spurs' Under-23 team.

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2019-08-08 07:42:16
<![CDATA[Maguire no magical remedy for United's shortcomings]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/08/content_37499955.htm Last Sunday's Community Shield clash between Manchester City and Liverpool reaffirmed many an educated hunch that last season's title duelists will again be biting at each other's heels at the summit of the English Premier League table this term.

The season curtain-raiser is rarely a reliable barometer of battles to come, but both sides put on such a superb show at Wembley that, barring some sensational business before Thursday's transfer deadline, it's safe to expect Pep Guardiola's City slickers will retain their crown, with Jurgen Klopp's relentless Reds not far behind.

Of the chasing pack, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur look to have the most convincing claims to third spot.

Much is being made of the arrival at United of Harry Maguire, and rightly so.

Maguire became something of a cult hero during England's World Cup campaign last summer, with his gladiatorial presence, commanding aerial ability and penchant for a goal or two reminiscent of throwback centerbacks like Tony Adams.

Maguire's distribution is not too shabby either, although people should take Guardiola's claim that he can turn United into a title contender with a large pinch of salt.

In the All or Nothing documentary of City's 2107-18 league-winning campaign, Guardiola is shown telling Kevin De Bruyne to target the then Leicester man, instructing: "Find that situation because the guy is not fast ... you will find space here."

At 80 million pounds ($97 million), Maguire has inherited Virgil van Dijk's mantel as the world's most expensive defender. But regardless of price, Liverpool still possesses the world's best defender in this year's Ballon d'Or favorite van Dijk.

The record fee looks all the more exorbitant considering Juventus paid Ajax 68 million pounds for Matthijs de Ligt, who was top of United's shopping list at the start of the summer. At 19, de Ligt is far from the finished article but already the Dutchman looks a more cultured addition than the 26-yearold Maguire.

In midfield, United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains lumbered with another overpriced acquisition - Paul Pogba, who's long-mooted move to Real Madrid never materialized.

Of course, it's well within Pogba's ability to start the season with a bang, kissing the badge in a defiant riposte to his critics after bulging the net with a 30-yard screamer. The France international, though, will never be the dominating figure in the middle that United needs week in, week out - one in the mold of Alex Ferguson's long-time enforcer-in-chief Roy Keane.

In his capacity as a Sky Sports pundit, Keane summed up the suspicions about Pogba's flaky attitude after the Frenchman had spoken of team spirit ahead of April's Manchester derby. "I wouldn't believe a word he says, there's no meaning to it," said the Irishman. "If you're going to be a good teammate you have to run back and defend.

"They said it was heated against Everton - I heard they threw their hair gel at each other.

"He's a really talented player but you need more than talent. The really top players make their team and their teammates better. He doesn't do that. He plays for himself."

That's why it's music to the ears of United fans to hear the Old Trafford hierarchy is trying to secure a late move for Tottenham's Christian Eriksen. At the time of writing, a fee of 50 million pounds was being reported - an absolute bargain for the one world's finest playmakers.

Whether or not Juventus' Paulo Dybala and/or Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho arrive to offset Eriksen's loss, the Dane's departure would be a major blow to Tottenham's chances of securing a fifth straight top-four finish. It would also discredit the argument that Spurs are gradually leaving behind their unwanted tag as perennial also-rans.

Meanwhile, Chelsea faces an uphill battle to better or match last season's third-place finish.

New Blues boss Frank Lampard is hamstrung by a transfer ban and the loss of Eden Hazard to Madrid. However, given his hero status at Stamford Bridge, Lampard should be immune from an early-season ax if his side doesn't hit the ground running.

Despite acquiring highly touted young winger Nicolas Pepe from Lille for 72 million pounds, Arsenal still lacks quality in too many positions. Indeed, the Gunners' preference of Pepe over his Cote d'Ivoire teammate Wilfried Zaha could prove to be a miscue, given the electrifying Crystal Palace forward's proven ability in the Premier League and his superior physicality.

As for dark horses this season, Everton's astute summer business, which included the signing of young Italy international Moise Kean, could see the blue half of Merseyside crash the top six.

Expect newly promoted Aston Villa to defy the bookmakers, too.

Spearheaded by pint-sized midfield maestro John McGinn (definitely the only Scot ever to be compared to Andres Iniesta) and hometown hero Jack Grealish, the vociferously supported Birmingham club looks well equipped to spring plenty of surprises.

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2019-08-08 07:42:16
<![CDATA[Popovich's passionate opening gambit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/07/content_37499498.htm After four years of waiting in the wings, Spurs coach starts Team USA's World Cup preparations in rousing style

LAS VEGAS - Gregg Popovich walked into USA Basketball's first team meeting in advance of their World Cup training camp, and it seemed to some in the room that he was having a little difficulty keeping his emotions in check.

Popovich talked about tradition, about what it means to play for your country, about expectations, about sacrifice, about playing the right way, about respect for opponents.

The only downside was that when he was done speaking, the first practice was still about 18 hours away.

"From the get-go, I think everybody was ready to play a game or run through a brick wall for him after that talk," Brooklyn guard Joe Harris said.

With that, Camp Pop had arrived.

Popovich's first training camp practice as coach of the US men's national team went into the books on Monday, less than a month before the Americans begin play at the FIBA World Cup in China.

Team USA has won the last two World Cup gold medals, both under Mike Krzyzewski, and now it's Popovich's turn to lead the red, white and blue.

"It's been on my mind every day, what I want to do and what needs to be done," said Popovich, the longtime San Antonio Spurs coach who was picked as Krzyzewski's successor nearly four years ago.

"It's been like thinking about two teams at the same time for that period. But Coach K did that for 12 years, so I think I can probably try to do the same."

Popovich was all over the floor in his first practice, pulling some guys aside for one-on-one chats during a scrimmage and other times gathering the entire team around him to discuss the nuance of proper box-out technique.

"You can't help but teach here and there," he said.

Popovich calls it "a huge responsibility" to both represent his country and continue the program's long tradition of winning. He and his assistants have been meeting for weeks, going over every possible detail.

"He is so passionate about this project and he's so well-prepared," said Golden State coach and USA Basketball assistant Steve Kerr.

There is also some pressure, of course.

When the Americans open their title defense against the Czech Republic in Shanghai on Sept 1, it will be exactly 13 years since the national team program lost a game at the World Cup or in Olympic competition.

On Sept 1, 2006, Team USA lost to Greece in the world championships semifinals. Since then, the Americans are 76-0 - a run that started with the bronze-medal game in the 2006 worlds, followed by gold-medal runs in the 2007 FIBA Americas tournament, the 2008 Olympics, the 2010 world championships, the 2012 Olympics, the 2014 World Cup and finally the 2016 Olympics.

USA Basketball has lost at times since 2006, including twice during the 12-game World Cup qualifying run. But none of those defeats came against the full-fledged US varsity, the level that Popovich is now overseeing.

"He's taken on the challenge of leading the USA team and he's taking on the challenge with seriousness," said Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce, a Popovich assistant this summer.

"The first conversation I had with him, he said we would enjoy this and we would have fun. But when we meet as coaches, you walk into the room and there are tables full of notes and easels full of notes already.

"He's definitely not taking this for granted."

There are some natural, and coincidental, parallels with Popovich following Krzyzewski at the helm.

Both were military and service academy men: Krzyzewski graduated from Army West Point in 1969, Popovich from the US Air Force Academy in 1970.

The Army put Krzyzewski into its Hall of Fame; the Air Force Academy did the same for Popovich. Krzyzewski has five NCAA titles; Popovich has five NBA titles.

In 2016, Krzyzewski called the pending coaching change "succession" - another term heard often in military circles when talking about the transfer of leadership.

"I have the unit right now," Krzyzewski said in 2016. "He's going to take command of the unit."

That day has arrived, and it was a long time coming for Popovich.

He was announced as Krzyzewski's successor as national team coach on Oct 23, 2015 - nearly a year before the Rio Olympics ended and nearly four years before the first game he'll actually coach for the red, white and blue.

Popovich oversaw a two-day mini camp in Las Vegas last summer, a couple of light practices that became a get-to-know-you session for invitees and little else. But Monday's was the first practice of the Popovich national-team era with an actual game in sight, and came less than two weeks before the World Cup roster is finalized and planes are boarded to Australia for final pre-China preparations.

"This is beyond playing for an NBA team," Popovich said. "This is for the country. It's the highest level you can be."

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2019-08-07 07:34:15
<![CDATA[Carter poised to make history by returning for 22nd season]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/07/content_37499497.htm ATLANTA - Vince Carter is putting off retirement for at least one more season in order to claim the longest career in NBA history all to himself.

A source familiar with the situation on Monday confirmed Carter has agreed to a one-year contract to return to the Atlanta Hawks for his record 22nd season.

The source spoke to Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been officially announced.

The 42-year-old Carter is tied with Robert Parish, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Willis and recently retired Dirk Nowitzki - all of whom played for 21 seasons - for the longest careers in NBA history.

"Just waiting for the right opportunity," he said on a recent conference call to discuss the upcoming Jr. NBA Global Championship, when questioned by a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Nothing has changed as far as that goal and that dream of mine."

Essentially an extra coach during his first season with the Hawks, Carter served as a mentor to some of the NBA's most promising young talent, including point guard Trae Young and forward John Collins.

This year, the Hawks have added first-round picks D'Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish, giving the team two more players who will surely benefit from Carter's experience and leadership.

Carter also showed last season that he's still got some hoop skills. He was a valuable member of the playing rotation on a rebuilding team, playing in 76 games with nine starts, averaging 17.5 minutes and 7.4 points per contest.

While Carter is likely to get less playing time after the additions of Hunter and Reddish, the Hawks wanted him back and finish off what is expected to be a 14-man roster this season.

Carter entered the league in 1998 - the same year Young was born - as the fifth overall pick out of North Carolina.

He sparked a wave of "Vinsanity "in Toronto, where his high-flying style made him one of the league's top players. With the Raptors, Carter began a run of 10 straight seasons in which he appeared in the All-Star Game, averaging more than 20 points a game.

Carter was dealt to New Jersey in a blockbuster trade early in the 2004-05 and spent nearly five seasons with the Nets.

Since then, he bounced around to Orlando, Phoenix, Dallas, Memphis and Sacramento before landing in Atlanta last season.

The only blemish on his resume is the lack of an NBA title, which isn't likely to change in Atlanta, where the Hawks are in the midst of a total roster makeover focused on young talent.

Atlanta went 29-53 last season and is again pegged as a long shot to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.

After reporting for training camp a year ago, Carter said he still feels like a 20-something when a new season rolls around.

"This is like I'm in my third, fourth, fifth year," he said. "I'm excited about the opportunity. I'm excited about playing. I still love playing. I still love competing. I still enjoy the traveling, the ups and downs of the league. That's what it's all about. It's hard to let go."

Coach Lloyd Pierce, who is heading into his second season with the Hawks, loved having Carter around to give players such as Young and Collins an extra shoulder to lean on during their transition to the NBA.

Pierce is only eight months older than Carter.

"When we have our locker-room and on-the-bus debates and conversations, he's on our side," Pierce joked. "He can relate a little closer to the coaching staff than he can with the players."

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2019-08-07 07:34:15
<![CDATA[CBA pitching to a full count]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/07/content_37499496.htm Governing body has high hopes for revamped domestic pro league

Already conceding two strikes against baseball's niche status on the national sports landscape, China's pro league is stepping up to the plate for a third swing at respectability.

After twice suspending competition due to lack of funding and exposure, the Chinese Baseball Association on Monday announced a relaunch of the league as part of a long-term reform to grow the competition, created in 2002, into a full-fledged professional program rebranded as the China National Baseball League.

With baseball returning to the Olympics at next year's Tokyo Games, the Chinese governing body is optimistic the league's reboot will draw attention back to the game in a market that shows signs of being ready to embrace it.

"After years of the sport being popularized at the grassroots as part of pop culture and now re-entering the Olympics, it's time to try to build the top of the pyramid," Chen Xu, president of the CBA, said at the league's launch ceremony in Beijing on Monday.

It won't be easy.

Eighteen years after its debut, the league's 2019 membership still features the same four original teams: Beijing, Tianjin, Guangdong and Jiangsu.

Even with baseball catching on with Chinese youth on campus, stagnant player development at the elite level, both in the State-run system and the private sector, has forced the CBA to maintain the status quo, with each of the four clubs having built relatively mature talent development, marketing and management systems.

The new CNBL becomes the league with the fewest teams in any sport in China - one short of the five-club Chinese Ice Hockey League, which was launched last week.

To make the CNBL more than just a weeklong tournament, the CBA will have the four teams play home and away for 18 rounds over seven weeks, starting with Tianjin hosting Beijing in the season opener on Aug 15.

The top two teams after the regular rounds will square off in a best-of-five championship final in late October.

"We're starting from scratch again, but this time we're more serious and more confident that it's going to be different," said Chen. "Over the next 15 years we are looking to build the CNBL into a mature league with a modern professional system that appeals to talent from neighboring countries."

Chen's confidence comes from the establishment of an independent company encompassing the CBA, the four clubs and Shougang Sports, the CNBL's operating and marketing partner, as stakeholders to model the league on Major League Baseball in the United States.

The previous two incarnations, halted in 2011 and 2017, were run by the CBA as championship tournaments with little involvement by the teams in marketing and promotion.

"Now with a league system in place, we will work on building sound player development and transfer programs to guarantee a high level of play, a steady revenue stream to fund operations and a branding strategy to promote the sport's image," said Qin Xiaowen, commissioner of the CNBL and CEO of Shougang Sports.

Although now preparing for the Olympic qualifiers to try to join baseball's comeback party in Tokyo, the CBA said the ultimate goal is to make the league mature enough to stand on its own, without relying on the Olympic exposure.

A major hurdle will be overcoming the sharp decline in investment and media coverage that followed baseball's last Olympics appearance at the 2008 Beijing Games, where the host finished in eighth place, inspiring a brief surge of interest in the game.

On the plus side, the business expansion of MLB into Asia Pacific has provided a helping hand in maintaining the domestic talent supply through its three development centers in East China's Jiangsu province.

Since the first DC opened in Wuxi in 2009, a total of seven Chinese prospects have graduated through the system to sign tryout or minor league contracts with MLB clubs, including Itchy Xu Guiyuan (by the Baltimore Orioles in 2015) and Sea Gong Haicheng (by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2017).

While none of the Chinese prospects have seen MLB action, their experience in navigating the pro pipeline have helped bolster China's future hopes in the sport.

Including the facilities in Changzhou and Nanjing, the three DCs now host about 100 student athletes aged 12-19 in a program combining advanced baseball training and academic education. The CNBL now has about 20 players from the centers and expects to receive more.

"With the development centers running into a 10th year, a small but increasing number of players have come through to suit up in the domestic league and for the national team," said Pan Guanghai, general manager of CNBL club Jiangsu Huge Horse.

"It helps bolster not just our own team but the rest of clubs in the league ... and we look forward to welcoming more."

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2019-08-07 07:34:15
<![CDATA[Shenhua launches new women's team]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/07/content_37499495.htm Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua has launched a women's team in partnership with Shanghai University of Sport.

The new outfit, officially called Shanghai Greenland Shenhua and Shanghai University of Sport Team, comprises 25 players and will compete in the China Women's Third Division later this year. With an average age of 20, all the players are students at the university.

The move is part of wider efforts to promote the women's game in China.

Head coach Ye Zhijing said over the next few years the team will strive to gain promotion to the top-tier Super League, where former Paris Saint-Germain playmaker and national team star Wang Shuang currently plies her trade.

 

Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai University of Sport have established a new women's team in an effort to find more talent in the colleges. Gao Erqiang / China Daily

"We have always planned to form a female team, but we started to prepare early this year because the Chinese Football Association has mandated that each club needs to have a female team by 2020," said Zhu Junwei, deputy general manager of Shenhua.

According to Zhu, there are benefits for both institutions - the student players will have access to logistical support, professional coaching and high-quality facilities, while the club will be able to tap into the university's rich knowledge base.

"We used to be an amateur team, but joining Shenhua has allowed us to upgrade ourselves in all aspects. We now have more coaches and the training is becoming more specialized," said Ye, who formerly played professionally for the Shanghai women's team.

Defensive midfielder Song Huijie plans to remain with the squad after graduation as she pursues her dream of turning pro.

"I hope to be able to play at higher levels with the team someday. Making the national team is a dream many of us have, as representing the country is the highest honor there is," said the 20-year-old.

All the players attend college courses in the morning and train in the afternoon for two hours, six days a week.

"The college team players are facing pressure on two fronts - academic study and training. This makes them very different from professional players who solely focus on training," said Ye.

"Another issue is continuity - players might leave the team after graduating so the squad might be constantly changing. This is something we will address. But I hope this partnership will encourage more players to stay on after graduation."

Reigning CSL champion Shanghai SIPG told China Daily it is also preparing to form a women's team in partnership with another local college.

Following studies on how professional men's teams in Europe play an important role in promoting and developing women's soccer, the Chinese Football Association has ruled that each CSL club must invest between 15-30 million yuan ($2.1-4.2 million) to establish a women's team.

The move comes at a time when attention on women's soccer is growing, with this summer's Women's World Cup and European club leagues enjoying increased coverage and television ratings.

"The increasing media coverage, the new policies and cooperation formats, and the comments from fans have illustrated that women's soccer is growing in popularity," said Ye.

"However, the number of women playing professional soccer in China is still too small. In Japan, the women's League Two already has more than 20 teams. Here in China, the number is much smaller."

One of the biggest obstacles to development is the mindset of parents.

"A lot of parents only let their daughters play soccer as a form of physical conditioning. They would never allow them to become professional players because it doesn't appear to have good career prospects," Song said.

"Also, female players might have to consider things like marriage and motherhood. This is another barrier to entry."

Moving forward, Ye hopes to see more female coaches in China.

"About 80 percent of women's soccer teams in foreign countries are headed by females," Ye said.

"This is important as female coaches better understand how to manage and train women's teams.

"You cannot just transplant the training approach for men onto a women's team. It's not very effective."

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2019-08-07 07:34:15
<![CDATA[Growing healthier in harmony]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/06/content_37499206.htm China's annual National Fitness Day returns on Thursday, with the nation getting into shape like never before.

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Radio calisthenics extravaganza gets the blood pumping ahead of this week's National Fitness Day celebrations

China's annual National Fitness Day returns on Thursday, with the nation getting into shape like never before.

As a warm-up for the celebration, a demonstration of radio calisthenics - synchronized group exercise performed to broadcast music or instruction - was staged in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, last Saturday, attracting 52 teams from across the country.

While not exactly a competition, prizes were handed out to the most impressive teams, while a 780-strong performance during the opening ceremony was a memorable highlight of the day.

Since April, the General Administration of Sport of China has been promoting radio calisthenics in schools and workplaces nationwide.

The aim is to make the group activity a daily choice for all walks of life and age groups, but especially for students and office workers whose shoulders and necks often require relief from long hours of desk work.

The project also fits into the National Fitness Program for 2016-20, aimed at encouraging 700 million Chinese to exercise at least once a week.

To build on the momentum, organizers will also be promoting other activities either side of National Fitness Day.

"The reason why we launched the radio calisthenics activity is to heat up the passion for the National Fitness Program," said Gou Zhongwen, director of the General Administration of Sport of China.

"We hope residents of both urban and rural areas get motivated to get involved in sports. Ideally, everyone will have one or two sports that they do on a regular basis and it becomes a habit."

Local office worker Ai Jing was one of the thousands of enthusiastic participants over the weekend.

"My office organizes radio calisthenics exercise twice a day at 10 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon," said Ai. "It's not compulsory, but most of my colleagues will participate as long as they have time ...even my boss.

"Because I do desk work, I feel such exercise is absolutely necessary. After sitting there for long hours, it's a great way to relax my back, neck and waist. Apart from the radio calisthenics, I also jog each night and go to the gym if I have time on weekends."

Two former Olympic champions also lent their support in Xi'an over the weekend - table tennis great Wang Liqin and shooting star Guo Wenjun.

"In the past for me, sport was all about winning honors for my country, but sport is not just about winning medals," said Wang, who is now vice-chairman of the Chinese Table Tennis Association.

"More importantly, it's about leveling up the overall health of people. We should actively promote the scientific idea of doing sports. We still have a lot to do in the future.

"The radio calisthenics performance at the opening ceremony was amazing and all the teams were so energetic.

"With the development of China's economy and the improvement in living standards, people are paying more attention to their health.

"I hope more pro athletes will use their influence. They should reach out to the community and schools to promote the idea of doing sports scientifically and share their knowledge and professional advice with people."

Xi'an native Guo, who won gold in the women's 10-meter air pistol at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, said: "Apart from shooting, I like swimming and I also do some strength training in the gym when I have time.

"I did radio calisthenics when I was in school for many years. It can be seen everywhere in China and it suits everyone, even kids.

"This activity creates a great atmosphere. It's great exercise but it's also a wonderful performance for people to watch."  

A spectacular calisthenics routine highlighted the opening ceremony of a fitness promotion initiative dubbed 'Healthy China Action' in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, on Saturday. Provided to China Daily 

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2019-08-06 07:39:38
<![CDATA[US women's league seeks World Cup-winning bounce]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/06/content_37499205.htm NEW YORK - The US women's soccer team is the best on the planet, but the sport's domestic league is virtually unknown.

Players, organizers and fans hope that is about to change as the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) is looking to capitalize on the national team's triumph at last month's World Cup - and it could already be seeing a bounce.

"We're seeing a huge wave from the World Cup. In the NWSL attendances have been up, so it's great to see," two-time world and Olympic champion Carli Lloyd told a group of reporters.

Lloyd, 37, spoke after playing a match for New Jersey club side Sky Blue FC.

More than a half hour after the game, Sky Blue players were still busy signing programs, posters and calendars for the hundreds of young fans who lined up to meet their heroes.

"There's a lot of people that still have no idea that there is a NWSL," Lloyd said, adding that the players can help change that.

"Changing people's lives. Going down the line, signing autographs, taking selfies. A kid sees that. 'Wow, I just got a selfie with Carli. I want to come back.' That's really what it's all about," she added.

A capacity crowd of 5,000 packed into Yurcak Field stadium last week for Lloyd's first Sky Blue game since she returned from the World Cup in France.

The host lost 1-0 to the Washington Spirit.

The same night in Seattle, the Portland Thorns thrashed the Houston Dash 5-0 in front of a crowd of more than 22,000, just short of the largest-ever attendance for an NWSL match.

"Sometimes in the NWSL you don't play in front of big crowds, so I feel like it's awesome to have two games back-to-back where it's been sell-out crowds," said national team member Rose Lavelle, who plays for the Washington Spirit. "Hopefully, it will just keep continuing."

Many of the spectators AFP spoke to were watching Sky Blue play for the first time, highlighting the growing interest in the women's game following the national team's successful defense of its World Cup crown.

On Saturday, Team USA kicked off a five-city victory tour by beating Ireland 3-0 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, in front of over 37,000 spectators.

Sponsorship

In addition to this year and 2015, Team USA also triumphed in 1999 and at the sport's 1991 inaugural championship.

"I think women's sports in general are catching on and becoming more popular," said PJ Petrow, who has been coaching girls' soccer for 25 years.

"I don't think this win was any bigger than any others. It's just because of social media and a lot of stuff going on, it's attracted a lot more people to the sport."

Interest in US women's soccer has tended to soar after each of the country's four World Cup titles before dipping again later, but the NWSL is determined to make this year's bump last.

The league suffered a blow earlier this year when the A&E network, a long-time broadcaster and an NWSL shareholder, suddenly withdrew its support.

Then, in the midst of the World Cup fever, major sports broadcaster ESPN announced it would showcase 14 matches this season, which began in April and runs through the middle of October.

One of those games, the Chicago Red Stars versus the North Carolina Courage, attracted an average of 149,000 viewers - the largest TV audience in three years.

Earlier this year, beer manufacturer Budweiser signed a multi-year sponsorship deal with the league.

"There's definitely a lot of excitement in the league and the sponsors want to be a part of that," Theresa Ferguson, brand management director for the NWSL, told AFP.

Six years after it was formed, the NWSL is already the most successful professional women's league in the United States.

The NWSL's future is fragile, though. In 2017, two out of the league's 10 teams disappeared due to a lack of funds.

The league also fails to offer the kind of money available in other countries.

The maximum salary is just $46,200 per year. In contrast, Norwegian star Ada Hegerberg makes 400,000 euros ($442,900) playing for Lyon.

"What's unique right now is that it feels like more than the league," said Sky Blue general manager Alyse LaHue.

"We're seeing teams and owners coming together collectively and saying, 'We're in a really important moment right now.'

"The question is what are we going to do as a league and as individual teams to capitalize on this?"

Agence France - presse

 

Team USA celebrates after winning the Women's World Cup final against the Netherlands at Stade de Lyon, France, on July 7. AP

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2019-08-06 07:39:38
<![CDATA[Coach says Su can hit another gear]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/06/content_37499204.htm Now you see him, now you don't.

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China's top sprinter rounding into form after returning from back injury

Now you see him, now you don't.

China's top sprinter Su Bingtian has the ability to run the 100m faster than his personal best of 9.91 seconds, said his coach Randall Huntington at the national trials on the weekend.

The 29-year-old Su twice ran 9.91 last summer to equal the Asian record, setting another career milestone after becoming the first Chinese to break the 10-second barrier in Eugene, Oregon, in 2015.

But Huntington, former coach of long jump world-record holder Mike Powell, is confident his protege can run even faster.

"Su's ability shows he can run faster than 9.91. I'm not going to predict whether he will or won't, because it's all going to depend on what he does in that particular race. Right now the elements are coming together for him to run faster... but it's going to take more races," said Huntington, who joined Su's coaching team in late 2017.

In his first race since being sidelined with a back injury in May, Su, who secured a berth at the upcoming IAAF World Championships in Doha before the two-day national trials, clocked 10.19 to finish second to Xie Zhenye in Friday night's 100m final.

Xie, who set an Asian men's record in the 200 by clocking 19.88 at an IAAF Diamond League meet in London last month, overtook Su in the final stretch to win in 10.03. "Su's start was top notch, so I needed to make up for my disadvantage at the start with better acceleration in the latter half," said 25-year-old Xie.

Su was satisfied with his finish, saying: "I haven't competed for a while so I need time to adjust. The first half of the race was fine, but when Xie caught up with me, it was like the Asian Games all over again. I was in better form, but tonight my body felt a bit stiff.

"I don't think the long break from competition will affect me much, but I do need more races."

Huntington said it will take time for Su to readjust to competition.

"While we were training in Switzerland we went to Roger Federer's doctor, who is a back specialist. He did an incredible job," said the American.

"This race was a test event because we've been working on many technical aspects of Su's 100.It was his first opportunity to actually get out and try some of those things," added the coach.

Su will turn 30 this month, but Huntington believes he still "has plenty of gas in the tank".

"He's not that old. He'll be 30 at the end of the month. Look at (Justin) Gatlin, look at Carl Lewis. Those guys raced until their late thirties," he said.

Gatlin stunned Jamaican legend Usain Bolt in the 100m final to be crowned 2017 world champion at age 35 while Lewis retired at 36 with nine Olympic gold medals and eight world titles.

"Su has plenty of gas in the tank to get him to Tokyo, and I'm not killing him in training. His body is not getting beat up," said Huntington.

Happy hurdler

Meanwhile, after breezing to a convincing victory at the national qualifiers, 110m hurdler Xie Wenjun will be gunning for his first top-eight finish at the worlds in Doha.

"Making it to the final at the world championships has always been my goal and this time I will be pursuing it with greater confidence," said the world No 3 after clocking 13.43 sec at Shenyang Olympic Stadium.

"My coach did not set any goal for today's race, so I was competing with entirely no pressure."

The 29-year-old Shanghai native has had an impressive season, twice improving his personal best to 13.17 and claiming the title at the London leg of the IAAF Diamond League last month.

"I have learned a lot from elite hurdlers like Sergey Shubenkov and Omar McLeod while competing against them," said Xie.

"Beating them at a Diamond League event is really a boost of confidence for me. I started to train under the guidance of my current coach (Rana Reider) last year and he has helped me to change a lot both mentally and in terms of techniques. That's the secret of my progress."

Xie failed to pass the preliminary round at the Moscow worlds in 2013 and was eliminated in the semifinal phase at the 2015 and 2017 editions in Beijing and London.

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2019-08-06 07:39:38
<![CDATA[Zheng's power and patience pave way to first tour victory]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/06/content_37499203.htm SAN JOSE, California - Zheng Saisai kept sending back big, looping groundstrokes and digging balls from every corner of the court to keep points alive.

All the while, Aryna Sabalenka became more and more frustrated not to be thriving in her typical power game.

China's Zheng stayed steady and patient to capture her first career singles title, beating Sabalenka of Belarus 6-3, 7-6 (3) in the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic on Sunday.

"It brings out so much confidence," Zheng said. "I wasn't winning and this week I beat many seeds. This gives me confidence but still I'm just going to play my tennis."

Zheng, ranked No 55, played one more match than Sabalenka to reach Sunday's championship match. She topped three seeded players on the way to her second career final and then another for her first WTA tour victory at age 25.

With her big top-spin shots landing deep and the defensive ability to chase down balls all over the court, Zheng flustered opponents all week with her consistency and levelheaded play - and the emotional Sabalenka was no different.

Not that Zheng was paying attention to her opponent's outbursts, instead focusing on her own game plan.

"The tactic is put the ball deep and whenever I see a space let her run and change if I can hit high balls because if I give her the same pace, the same ball, she will hit winners on any corner," Zheng said.

Sabalenka threw her racket after double-faulting on the first match point, slammed her racket to the court following another mistake and also smashed it on the net in frustration in an afternoon of unforced errors that saw the 21-year-old miss out on a fourth career title.

The second-seeded Sabalenka, who lost in the first round of qualifying here in 2018, rode her powerful first serve to reach to her seventh final and is projected to match her career-high No 9 when the new rankings come out this week.

Zheng's victory could propel her to No 38 - matching her career best.

The Belarusian's power was neutralized by Zheng's regular top spin on both sides, timely lobs and array of shot-making.

"I couldn't do anything today with myself. I couldn't control my emotions. I was screaming and throwing my racket," Sabalenka said.

"Her game destroyed me because I couldn't use my power. I wasn't ready for that."

The two met once previously, with Zheng winning in straight sets on the ITF circuit in 2017. Each woman had played one three-set match this week.

They even wore matching Nike outfits of dark skirts and gold tank tops in the final.

For Sabalenka, the loss will provide lessons in how to be more mentally tough.

"I want to be like Serena (Williams) on the court.," she said. "I expect better tennis than I played today. I just need to be calm on the court and play my game and don't care about anything else."

Venus Williams lost her opening match after reaching last year's quarterfinals here. The 39-year-old, seven-time Grand Slam champion was in the field for the 15th time, this year as a wild-card entry.

In the doubles final, Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic and American Nicole Melichar defeated Japanese tandem Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara 6-4, 6-4 on Sunday.

This marked the second year the event has been played at San Jose State University after moving from Stanford.

Associated Press

 

China's Zheng Saisai kisses the trophy after defeating Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in Sunday's final of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, California. Tony Avelar / AP

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2019-08-06 07:39:38
<![CDATA[Digest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/06/content_37499202.htm Volleyball

China's women seal ticket to Tokyo 2020

China's women's team punched a ticket to the 2020 Olympics following a 3-0 triumph over Turkey in the Pool B qualifying tournament in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, on Sunday.

Zhu Ting had 15 kills in 27 attempts to score a match-high 20 points while Zhang Changning contributed 16 points in the 25-18, 25-12,25-18 victory, which saw China win the group with a perfect 3-0 record to seal its Tokyo spot.

"We did a great job today, especially our defense," said Team China coach Lang Ping. "Winning the Olympic ticket is our first step. As we will face stronger teams in Tokyo, we must be stronger ourselves."

"Our players faced big pressure today. China is an amazing team and very difficult to play against," said Giovanni Guidetti, head coach of Turkey.

The United States, Brazil, Serbia, Russia and Italy also booked tickets to the Tokyo Games over the weekend while Japan has qualified as host. The remaining five berths will be filled by the five continental qualifiers.

Fitness

Beijing tennis event proves a smash hit

One hundred and eight pairs took part in the China Sports Lottery Fourth National Fitness tennis competition over the weekend at Beijing's Xiannongtan tennis center.

Players were divided into three age groups - youth (35 and under), adult (35-55) and senior (55 and older) - for the doubles-only competition organized by the Beijing Municipal Tennis Administrative Center and Beijing Aolexin Sports Culture Co Ltd.

The event was held in advance of National Fitness Day on Aug 8, as the world's most populous nation urges all citizens to take up sports to keep fit and welcome the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Badminton

Shi withdraws from worlds due to injury

World No 2 Shi Yuqi has pulled out of the upcoming BWF World Championships in Basel, Switzerland, with an ankle injury.

Shi, a runner-up to Kento Momota at last year's worlds, injured his left ankle during his match against Denmark's Anders Antonsen in the Indonesia Open Super 1000 last month, and skipped both the Japan Open and Thailand Open.

With ranking points from last year's worlds expiring this week, Shi has slipped to third in the world rankings, with Chou Tienchen of Chinese Taipei moving up to No 2.

Huang Yuxiang will take Shi's place on the Chinese team in Basel, joining Chen Long, Lin Dan, and Lu Guangzu in the men's singles.

Athletics

Triple jumper Wu way ahead of the pack

China's rising triple jump star Wu Ruiting twice improved his personal best en route to a winning mark of 17.47 meters at the national trials in Shenyang, Liaoning province, on Saturday.

Wu hit 17.41m on his second attempt, beating his previous best set last month in Switzerland, then improved his mark in the third round to seal victory.

The meet was a qualifier for September's world championships in Doha, with Zhu Yaming finishing second (17.23m) and Fang Yaoqing third (16.75m) to also book their tickets to Qatar.

"We train together. If one of us makes progress, the other will be eager to catch up, That's the secret to our quick development," said the 23-year-old Wu, who has improved his personal best four times this year.

Tennis

Nostalgic Nadal longs for pre-online days

Rafael Nadal said on Sunday he prefers the tennis environment of 15 years ago, when players had more human contact and less online time.

Spain's 18-time Grand Slam champion is back at the ATP Montreal Masters as defending champion after defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas for his fourth Canadian trophy last year.

The 33-year-old world No 2 said the "old" days were better for human communication.

"We had energy as younger players to do things but there were no social networks then, so you didn't always have to be in front of a laptop," Nadal said of the early 2000s.

"There was more contact among the players than there is today. I grew up without the new world of social networks, and I prefer it that way. But the world changes and we have to adapt to the times," he said.

NFL

Brady, Pats agree to two-year extension

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots have reportedly agreed to a contract extension that will keep the superstar quarterback with the franchise beyond his upcoming 20th NFL season.

NFL Network on Sunday reported the parties have agreed to a two-year, $70 million contract extension that will increase Brady's salary from $15 million to $23 million. He will be paid $30 million in 2020 and $32 million in 2021, with the caveat that the player and team both remain "amenable" to adjusting the numbers as necessary.

Brady celebrated his 42nd birthday on Saturday and will open the defense of his sixth Super Bowl title next month.

China Daily - Agencies

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2019-08-06 07:39:38
<![CDATA[Turmoil a part of Asia tours]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/05/content_37498759.htm Huge entourages, heavy security and demands for the sort of police protection normally reserved for heads of state.

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From security concerns to travel and accommodation woes, European teams have to adjust

Huge entourages, heavy security and demands for the sort of police protection normally reserved for heads of state.

For European soccer teams jetting across Asia, nothing is left to chance - but they sometimes run into problems anyway.

Today's money-spinning preseason tours are a far cry from 30 years ago, when the likes of Manchester United played friendlies against local sides, or at most hopped over to Ireland.

United, now a global brand, sent staff to Shanghai several times ahead of last week's friendly against Tottenham to ensure the Hongkou Stadium pitch was up to scratch.

Paris Saint-Germain dispatched a chef ahead of the team's arrival in each location in Asia to check that the food adheres to players' strict diets.

Security - which usually means keeping away overzealous fans - has been a primary concern for the clubs fanning out across Asia this month.

Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola was accompanied by a beefy escort as he made the short walk to the team bus inside Nanjing Olympic Stadium.

Autograph and selfie-hunters were left empty-handed.

City's guarded approach - its security detail was never far away - angered Chinese media, which accused the club of an "attitude of arrogance".

Guardiola retorted: "Maybe one journalist is a little bit upset, I don't know why, but it's far away from what is reality."

'No vacation'

When it comes to accommodation for City, United, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and the rest, only the best will do.

Guardiola and his expensively assembled squad - plus dozens of club staff - took over the exclusive, 130-room Banyan Tree hotel in Shanghai.

Rooms at the self-styled "urban retreat in the city's most scenic location" start at nearly 2,000 yuan (about $300) a night.

PSG brought a heaving delegation of 120 people to Shenzhen, Macao and Suzhou, among them eight security personnel with walkie-talkies and at least two cooks in club-crested chef uniforms.

While in Suzhou for last Tuesday's 3-0 win over Sydney FC, PSG stayed at the deluxe Fairmont Yangcheng Lake hotel.

However, the French champion's midfielder Julian Draxler said being holed up in a hotel - no matter how swanky - could be "quite boring".

Throw in training in fierce heat, and media and commercial duties, and Draxler said it was no holiday.

The 25-year-old German World Cup winner said he was happy to be in China and meet Chinese fans, but conceded: "Honestly, when we are in preseason, we see the hotel, the plane, the bus and the pitches.

"It's not like we go out and try some restaurants or go and do some shopping."

Because of internet challenges, players are unable to while away the hours on social media or read news from back home - which Newcastle United's young goalkeeper Freddie Woodman said was probably a blessing.

Profit and goodwill

The visits - Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Australia were also on some itineraries - are ultimately about creating profit and goodwill, but not every trip has ended well.

According to South Korean media, demands from Juventus to have a police escort - normally reserved for visiting heads of state - were refused.

Juventus arrived at the stadium for an exhibition match in Seoul 15 minutes after the scheduled kickoff, delaying the game by an hour after the team's flight arrived late.

The Italian champion then riled fans by keeping star attraction Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench. More than 2,000 South Koreans have teamed up to sue the sports agency involved.

There is little teams can do about temperatures touching 40 degrees Celsius (104 F), heavy rain, jet lag, traffic and flight delays.

Bad weather saw PSG stuck in Suzhou on Wednesday morning, while City's flight to China was delayed by two days because of a paperwork problem.

When the plane finally touched down, Guardiola hardly looked delighted.

"It's survival," he grimaced.

Agence France - presse

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2019-08-05 07:59:17
<![CDATA[Free-falling Red Sox make ump brunt of their frustration]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/05/content_37498758.htm

NEW YORK - Chris Sale threw an 0-2 fastball at the letters past New York's Gio Urshela in the fourth inning and didn't get the call.

The Red Sox starter raised both arms as if to say, "What's wrong?" and muttered at plate umpire Mike Estabrook.

From there, Sale's outing in the opener of Saturday's doubleheader spun out of control - just like Boston's season.

After the Yankees swept the Red Sox 9-2 and 6-4, Boston fell 13 1/2 games behind AL East-leading New York and 5 1/2 games back of second-place Tampa Bay.

The Red Sox are 59-54 - already with as many losses as their 2018 World Series championship squad (108-54).

"It seems like it has flip-flopped from last year, where we are right now," manager Alex Cora said.

Boston held a players-only meeting between games.

"Everybody's frustrated," reigning AL MVP Mookie Betts said. "Not every year is going to be like last year. We have to just figure out a way."

DJ LeMahieu homered twice in the day game and Gleyber Torres twice in the nightcap as New York moved a season-high 32 games over.500 at 71-39 and improved to 4-0-1 in doubleheaders this year.

Domingo Germ��n (14-2) won the day game and the Yankees then improved to 9-0 when using Chad Green as an opener, beating the Red Sox for the 10th time in 14 meetings.

New York slugger Edwin Encarnaci��n broke his right wrist when hit by a pitch from Josh Smith in the eighth inning of the opener and is expected to be out up to five weeks.

Outfielder Aaron Hicks hurt his elbow on a sixth-inning throw in the second game and was scheduled for an MRI on Sunday.

In the opener, Sale and Cora were ejected by Eatabrook during a seven-run fourth after complaining about his strike zone. Sale nearly hit Urshela with his 1-2 pitch and wound up giving up hits to six of the next seven batters, including LeMahieu's second homer of the game.

"I felt like he kind of changed the landscape of the game. There's got to be something that can be done about this," Sale said of Estabrook.

"It's a little tough when at this level you give those guys in those situations extra strikes and extra outs. Yeah, I've got to do a little bit better job of locking it in and getting my job done, not worrying about what's going on back there with him."

Sale (5-11) tied his career high by allowing eight earned runs in 3.2 innings and fell to 0-4 with a 9.90 ERA against the Yankees this season. He was 29-12 with a 2.56 ERA for the Red Sox when he signed a six-year, $160 million contract in March but has a 4.68 ERA since.

New York took a 2-1 lead on four singles. Cora, not pitching coach Dana LeVangie, went to the mound with the intent of getting tossed by Estabrook.

"It was only one purpose. I wasn't talking about mechanics or anything," Cora said. "Just let me know when he's coming, and I'm going to let him know how I feel."

What did Cora say?

"You see all this traffic here? One pitch changed the whole inning," the manager recalled as the PG-rated version.

Cora pointed nearly two dozen times at various Yankees runners and the plate as he returned to the dugout.

"Umpires are human. They miss calls," Cora said. "And sometimes we bark at them and then we look at video. It's like, oh, he was right."

Associated Press

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2019-08-05 07:59:17
<![CDATA[Forging some homegrown puck power]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/05/content_37498757.htm Despite a lack of talent and facilities, China's hockey governing body is looking to its long-awaited domestic league to bolster the national program ahead of the challenge of the home Olympics.

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Building a strong domestic league cited as crucial for China's Olympic chances

Despite a lack of talent and facilities, China's hockey governing body is looking to its long-awaited domestic league to bolster the national program ahead of the challenge of the home Olympics.

Four years into preparations for the 2022 Winter Games, China's commitment to propel hockey into the national sports mainstream still looks like a long shot, underlined by the weekend launch of a domestic league forced to include overseas teams to make up for the dearth of homegrown talent.

The "league", literally a three-stop tournament, opened its first leg in Beijing on Friday with five teams, including the Arizona State University Sun Devils from the US and Ermak Angarsk from Russia's second tier VHL. The Chinese entries are Jilin Tsen Tou and KRS-ORG from the VHL and Kunlun Red Star from Russia's top-tier Kontinental Hockey League.

They're competing in a round-robin format through Wednesday at northeast Beijing's Aozhong Ice Sports Center.

The Chinese Ice Hockey Association revealed on Friday that the second and third legs of the competition will be held in March after the Russian leagues' regular seasons, with more domestic clubs participating.

To put things in perspective, perennial national champions Harbin and Qiqihar, from China's strong winter sports province Heilongjiang, skipped the first stop in order to compete in the ongoing U19 tournament at the China Youth Games in Shanxi province.

To be competitive in the world's fastest team sport, which has long been dominated by Canada, Russia and teams from Scandinavia, China needs to build a domestic league system from scratch, said Si Liang, deputy secretary-general of CIHA.

"It's better late than never... even though we have to launch it in a shorthanded and hasty situation," Si told China Daily at Aozhong Ice Sports Center on Friday.

"As host, trying to pull off a respectable showing at the 2022 Olympics means we are in urgent need of more elite-level hockey competitions on a consistent basis, rather than just the annual national championships to develop our players and help them gain more experience."

Having qualified for the men's and women's Olympic tournaments by special permission from the International Ice Hockey Federation, China is pursuing a tall task to contend for a medal in the 10-team women's competition and not be embarrassed in the 12-squad men's event.

China's women are currently ranked No 20 by the IIHF, while the men are No 32.

Although China is ambitiously promoting snow and ice sports among 300 million people in the buildup to 2022, its stagnant player development in hockey has pushed the host to take bold moves, such as recruiting North Americans with Chinese heritage to the national program.

The six-team national championships' Group A tournament in June for the first time included an extra team from Beijing consisting of several foreign-born players of Chinese ancestry.

The Sun Devils, who compete in Div 1 of the NCAA, are happy to play a role in the sport's potential rise in the world most populous country.

"I think the more presence North American hockey can have over here, the quicker hockey will grow here. It helps a lot," Arizona head coach Greg Powers said following a 5-3 win over Kunlun Red Star in the league opener on Friday.

"The NHL is building a stronger presence here and a lot of North American coaches have come to help. Seeing such high level hockey from countries all over the world will make the game explode here."

The Sun Devils appearance in the Chinese league marks the first visit by an NCAA Div I hockey team since 1985.

Elevated to D1 status in 2015, ASU made it to the 16-strong US national championships for the first time last year before bowing out in the opening round. The team is counting on the Beijing tournament to facilitate a deeper run next season.

"This tournament is a huge advantage for us. The ability to practice and play against professionals should really benefit us when our regular season starts," said Powers.

ASU freshman Peter Zhong had the opportunity to don the Devils' maroon and gold for the first time against Red Star at the rink 10 minutes from where he grew up.

Born and raised in the Chinese capital, Zhong is one of just three NCAA D1 players from China. The other two are Song Andong, who was drafted 172nd by the NHL's New York Islanders in 2015 and now plays for Cornell University, and Chen Zimeng, Song's U18 national teammate and a freshman with Alabama-Huntsville.

"I started out pretty nervous," said Zhong, 21, who developed his game in Chicago's junior program. "The competitive atmosphere was so intense, but I enjoyed it a lot.

"The pace and speed of professional hockey is tough, but I am keen on growing my game through the collegiate system in the US to hopefully suit up for China at the 2022 Olympics."

 

Players from Jilin Tsen Tou clear the crease during a 5-4 overtime win against Arizona State University in Beijing on the weekend. Xinhua

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2019-08-05 07:59:17
<![CDATA[Games changing lives as well as landscapes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/05/content_37498756.htm SHIJIAZHUANG - Five years ago, Yu Lei was a security guard in Beijing. If he had not been doing that, he would have been growing corn on his farm in Chongli, a small town in Zhangjiakou, Heibei province.

Today he is a skiing instructor and his hometown has become the focus of international attention as it prepares to host ski events for the 2022 Winter Olympics, along with Beijing.

July 31 marked the fourth anniversary of Beijing winning the bid to host the Games, which have been making a huge impact on local people's lives in places where venues and infrastructure are being built.

Yu has seen his own life and that of his town in Hebei province transformed. His income has increased from 2,000 yuan ($290) a month to nearly 10,000($1,452) a month as an instructor at a ski resort.

Chongli, situated 200 kilometers northwest of Beijing, had just one skiing resort in 2003. Today, it has seven.

According to official statistics, 30,000 of the 126,000 local residents are now doing jobs related, directly or indirectly, to the Olympics.

"Developing the skiing industry and hosting the Games have changed our lives a lot," Yu said. "We used to get very few visitors. Now we are getting tens of thousands a year."

Yang Jingzhi, former vice-director of Hebei Sports Bureau, has witnessed the tremendous changes that have taken place. He recalls his first visit to Chongli, nestled among mountains near part of the Great Wall about 10 years ago.

"White clouds, black land, green trees and grass, and the fresh air made a big impression on me," he said.

But he also noticed the poverty. "The residents were so poor that their houses were made of soil or stone, even half underground.

"At that time, people there earned a little money by selling wild mushrooms."

For young people, the employment options were limited: they could be a farmer or a miner of low-quality gold.

Yu returned to his hometown in 2015 to become a ski instructor, a job in high demand as resorts expanded. Now he teaches kids to ski.

"Some children can ski independently after two to four hours, which brings me a sense of achievement. Skiing could be the career of my lifetime," he said.

Since Beijing was awarded the Games in July 2015, more and more young people in Chongli have been trained and hired by ski resorts as instructors, while others have also found jobs as security guards, service staff or caterers.

In May, local authorities officially declared the area had been lifted out of poverty.

The number of ski resorts rose to seven last year from four in 2015.and the number of ski runs has doubled. Wanlong, Thaiwoo, Genting Secret Garden and Fulong were last year listed among the top 10 resorts in China.

The town's income has more than doubled from 440 million yuan (about $63.9 million) in 2015 to 1.015 billion yuan (about $147 million) last year.

It has seen an annual increase of nearly 200 million yuan per year since Beijing won the bid to host the Olympics. Last year was the first time that Chongli's total fiscal revenue exceeded 1 billion yuan (about $145 million).

But not everyone is happy about that. Some residents complain that their tranquil hometown has been disrupted by increasing numbers of tourists.

The mine owners are unhappy, too. They have been forced to shut down their operations by the government, which pledged to remove the mines in order to cut pollution.

Some miners have found other jobs. In Shizuizi town of Chongli district, one miner has taken to growing roses.

"It was very painful to see the mine close down, but it's beneficial to the locals in the long term," he said.

The service industry has replaced the mining industry, which was the economic mainstay here for decades. Tax revenue from the service industry accounted for 71.4 percent of the city's total tax revenue in 2018.

Although the global spotlight will focus on Chongli in less than three years, what will be left to the local residents when the Olympics are over?

It has been suggested Chongli needs to continue to modernize its industries in order to ensure lasting, sustainable development.

Zhao Zan, Chongli's district government chief, said the Winter Games have boosted the structural transformation of the area's economy.

"We will continue to introduce various projects related to sports, tourism, health and culture this year," he said.

Chongli has begun to garner serious international attention as a top travel destination.

Last January, it was named by The New York Times as one of the"52 places to travel to in 2019" for its booming ski industry. A high-speed rail from Chongli is set to open, and the one-hour journey will make the area even more accessible.

Meanwhile, Yu is eager to continue his skiing education in Europe, with the aim of leveling up his instructor credentials.

"It would be a dream come true for me if I could play a part in the Winter Olympics in my hometown," he said.

Xinhua

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2019-08-05 07:59:17
<![CDATA[Zhengzhou set to serve up a treat]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/03/content_37498480.htm As the newest Premier 700 event on the WTA calendar, the Zhengzhou Open is set to serve up a feast of tennis featuring some of the biggest names in the game.

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Halep headlines host of big names confirmed for upgraded WTA event

As the newest Premier 700 event on the WTA calendar, the Zhengzhou Open is set to serve up a feast of tennis featuring some of the biggest names in the game.

Organizers this week confirmed a world-class field for the event, which will take place from Sept 9-15 at the Central Plains Tennis Center in Henan's capital Zhengzhou.

The tournament will feature five of the world's current top 10 female players: two-time Grand Slam winner Simona Halep (No 4), 2018 WTA Finals champion Elina Svitolina (No 7), Karolina Pliskova (No 3), Kiki Bertens (No 5) and Aryna Sabalenka (No 10).

"We've been working around the clock with our team to make sure we deliver a great event, and now seeing the final entry list comprised of some of today's greatest players is a very rewarding feeling," said tournament director Morgan Menahem.

"We are only one third of the way but are excited that soon Henan province will take center stage on the tennis planet. We wish to extend a special welcome to tennis fans from around China and beyond. Please join us in celebrating tennis in Zhengzhou this coming September."

The event offers a total prize pool of $1 million. That will be upped to $1.5 million next year when a new 8,000-seat stadium is opened. The winner of the 32-spot singles draw will be awarded 470 ranking points.

"I'm really looking forward to playing at the new Zhengzhou Open," said recently crowned Wimbledon champion Halep. "It's always exciting for us to add a new city to our calendar and I have heard that Henan province has a lot to offer. I can't wait to visit the city and introduce world-class women's tennis to the fans there."

World No 7 Svitolina is also relishing returning to Asia after enjoying success at last year's WTA Finals in Singapore.

"Asia has stayed in my heart after winning the WTA Finals and it's a double pleasure for me to come back and play at Zhengzhou," said the Ukrainian.

"I'm always amazed by the powerful support of Asian fans. I hope to show you my best game this year."

The Zhengzhou Open's upgrade to one of the 12 Premier events on the tour is symptomatic of the booming Chinese tennis market. The tournament will launch the tour's Asian swing a week after the US Open and is one of nine WTA events now staged in China.

"Congratulations to the Zhengzhou Open for attracting such a starry field," said Fabrice Chouquet, the WTA's Asia-Pacific managing director.

"China is a key market for the WTA and we are glad and honored to help bring this brand new WTA Premier event to the wonderful city of Zhengzhou.

"We have no doubt that this will be an excellent tournament and an amazing opportunity to showcase the city of Zhengzhou and the extraordinary culture of Henan."

World No 16 Wang Qiang will lead China's hopes at the tournament.

"Starting the Asian swing with the newly created WTA Premier 700 Zhengzhou Open offers a great opportunity to feature more tennis in China," said Wang, who reached a career-high No 14 in the rankings this season. "I am excited that the Asian swing will be starting in Henan province and can't wait to play there."

Wang's appearance in front of her home fans will be particularly poignant after she lost her coach Peter McNamara to cancer last month. The Australian's guidance was a key factor in Wang's superb season last year when she won two WTA titles in Guangzhou and Nanchang.

Home fans will also be able to cheer on defending champion Zheng Saisai, a doubles finalist at this year's French Open.

"Zhengzhou has always been one of the major cities in China throughout our history," said Zheng, ranked 55th in singles.

"To have a Premier WTA event in Zhengzhou for the first time and to be able to be part of this historical event, I am both very honored and excited. I'm looking forward to playing this September and visiting this beautiful historical city."

shifutian@chinadaily.com.cn

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2019-08-03 07:09:24
<![CDATA[What they say]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/03/content_37498479.htm "China is a key market for the WTA and we are glad and honored to help bring this brand new WTA Premier event to the wonderful city of Zhengzhou."

Fabrice Chouquet

managing director of WTA Asia-Pacific

"I'm really looking forward to playing at the new Zhengzhou Open. It's always exciting for us to add a new city to our calendar and I have heard that Henan province has a lot to offer."

Simona Halep

two-time Grand Slam champion

"I am excited to play the Zhengzhou Open for the first time this year. I've heard great things about the tournament from other players on tour, so I think playing Zhengzhou will be an excellent way to kickstart the WTA's Asian swing."

Kiki Bertens

World No 5

"I'm very excited to be competing at the Zhengzhou Open for the first time. It's going to be a great event to kick off the Asian swing this year and I'm looking forward to it."

Jelena Ostapenko

2017 French Open champion

"Starting the Asian swing with the newly created WTA Premier 700 Zhengzhou Open offers a great opportunity to showcase more tennis in China. I am excited that the Asian swing will be starting in Henan province and can't wait to play there."

Wang Qiang

China's world No 16

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2019-08-03 07:09:24
<![CDATA[Ex-WADA boss blasts Australian 'hypocrisy']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/03/content_37498478.htm Former World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Dick Pound has hit out at Swimming Australia's "holier than thou" attitude in the wake of Aussie freestyler Shayna Jack's failed drug test.

Speaking to Australia's Nine Entertainment Co. on Thursday evening, the Canadian said Aussie officials and athletes are highly outspoken when it comes to accusing other nation's swimmers of cheating but are often muted when it comes to their own.

Taking aim at Olympic gold medalist Mack Horton for refusing to share the podium with China's Sun Yang at last month's FINA World Championships in South Korea, Pound said: "Australia should make it clear that they are as upset about one of their swimmers being caught for doping as they would be if the swimmer was Chinese.

"There has been a rather strange distinction between Australia's reaction to Sun Yang and to their own swimmer (Jack).

"Australia has always been pretty firm about its opposition to doping but if the sauce is good for the goose it has to be good for the gander. If you are going to be holier than thou you should come to the discussion with clean hands."

In January, FINA cleared Sun of any wrongdoing over a botched doping test, yet Horton and Britain's Duncan Scott both refused to share a podium with the Chinese star in Gwangju.

Jack is facing a four-year ban after testing positive for Ligandrol - a drug which stimulates muscle growth and strengthens bone. It was originally stated that the two-time world silver medalist would not travel to Gwangju with the national team due to "personal reasons".

Calling the situation "hypocritical" after Horton's highly publicized podium protest, Pound added: "It looks like you (Australia) have been walking both sides of the fence."

Former WADA director-general David Howman has also been critical of Horton's behavior, saying on Wednesday: "As an athlete you are entitled to freedom of speech, but there is a time and place. You have to balance free speech with your responsibilities as a competitor. If you win a medal you have an obligation to follow the ceremony protocol."

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2019-08-03 07:09:24
<![CDATA[Benitez beware, flurry of firings shows CSL's fickleness]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/03/content_37498477.htm

Rafa Benitez's arrival dominated the headlines but Chinese Super League teams have sent the managerial merry-go-round into hyper-speed with five of the 16 clubs making changes in one month.

CSL clubs appear to have lost their nerve as they enter the final third of the season with the title and relegation fights too close to call.

The biggest shock came on Wednesday when Beijing Guo'an axed German Roger Schmidt and named Frenchman Bruno Genesio as his replacement.

The 52-year-old Schmidt can feel particularly aggrieved with Guo'an third in the CSL, just four points off leader Guangzhou Evergrande.

The former Bayer Leverkusen coach inspired Guo'an to CFA Cup glory last season and the capital club began the season with a record 10 CSL victories in a row.

But Guo'an moved ruthlessly to replace him with former Lyon manager Genesio following a third defeat in a row in all competitions.

"Professional football is so cruel," correspondent Yuan Fang wrote in Oriental Sports Daily on Friday.

"High income is accompanied by high risks and high pressure."

Yuan and other Chinese media said there had been murmurs of discontent with Schmidt's intense training methods, and a feeling that some players were underperforming.

Summing up the thinking at Guo'an, Yuan wrote: "Changing coaches means a chance of winning the title, but if you don't change, the championship is gone."

Genesio was given a contract until the end of the season, giving him 10 matches to reignite Beijing's title charge - or likely follow Schmidt out the door.

Schmidt's surprise dismissal is a reminder to UEFA Champions League winner Benitez that Chinese clubs will not hesitate to bring down the ax.

The former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Newcastle boss has, however, made a good start at Dalian Yifang, winning four of his six matches to lead the team to mid-table safety.

Benitez's predecessor, Choi Kanghee, replaced Quique Sanchez Flores at Shanghai Shenhua, which under the former Watford manager found itself in a relegation fight.

Other changes last month saw former AC Milan midfielder Roberto Donadoni arrive at Shenzhen FC, which is fighting to avoid relegation.

Rock-bottom Beijing Renhe, which is four points from safety, also switched coaches, swapping Serbian Aleksandar Stanojevic for Spaniard Luis Garcia.

Of the 16 CSL teams, 11 have foreign coaches.

Agence France - presse

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2019-08-03 07:09:24
<![CDATA[Digest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/03/content_37498476.htm Basketball

NBA vet Stephenson to sign for Liaoning

Well-traveled NBA veteran Lance Stephenson has reportedly agreed to a one-year, $4 million deal with the Liaoning Flying Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports was first to announce the agreement on Thursday. Stephenson, a 28-year-old swingman, spent the 2018-19 season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Indiana Pacers selected Stephenson, a Cincinnati product, in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft. He spent his first four seasons with the Pacers, where the team reached the Eastern Conference Finals in 2013 and 2014.

He signed as a free agent with the Charlotte Hornets before the 2014 season, but since then also has played for the Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans, in addition to the Lakers.

Hall of Famer Kidd added to Lakers staff

Hall of Fame point guard and former NBA head coach Jason Kidd officially joined the Los Angeles Lakers' coaching staff, the team has announced.

New coach Frank Vogel's staff also includes former NBA head coach Lionel Hollins, Phil Handy, Miles Simon, former Lakers guard Mike Penberthy and Quinton Crawford. Simon is the only assistant who was part of former coach Luke Walton's staff.

Kidd joins the Lakers after headcoaching stints with the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks. He was fired by the Bucks in January 2018. Kidd, 46, ended his playing career in 2013 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018. He was the second overall pick by the Dallas Mavericks in 1994.

Soccer

AFC bans four players for match-fixing

The Asian Football Confederation has banned four players for life for attempting to fix AFC Champions League matches..

The AFC said on Friday that defender Kursanbek Sheratov, striker Vladimir Verevkin and defender Iliaz Alimov of Kyrgyzstan and goalkeeper Abduaziz Mahkamov of Tajikistan had been banned from taking part in any soccer-related activities for life.

It said Sheratov was found guilty of being involved in a conspiracy to manipulate a match involving his club Dordoi of Kyrgyzstan in the 2017 Champions League. He was also found guilty of supporting betting activity in connection with the match.

Verevkin and Alimov were found guilty of being involved in a conspiracy to manipulate matches involving their Kyrgyz club Alay in the 2017 and/or 2018 season.

Brazilian great Alves signs for Sao Paulo

Veteran Brazilian rightback Dani Alves has joined his boyhood team Sao Paulo.

The club announced the move on Thursday in a video with the 36-year-old former Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain defender.

Brazilian media reported the deal is valid until the end of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

"I could have chosen anywhere to play, but I chose to return to Brazil," said Alves, who was released by PSG in July.

Golf

Ryder Cup star Olesen accused of sex assault

Danish star Thorbjorn Olesen was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a passenger during a first-class flight from the United States to London, British media reported on Thursday.

According to The Sun newspaper, 29-year-old Olesen allegedly molested a sleeping woman before urinating in the aisle and then getting involved in an abusive tirade with crew on a British Airways flight from Memphis where he had been competing at the St. Jude Invitational last weekend.

Olesen, a member of the 2019 European Ryder Cup team and a five-time champion on the European Tour, allegedly needed to be calmed down by fellow player Ian Poulter.

Xinhua - Agencies

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2019-08-03 07:09:24
<![CDATA[Felix hopes her legacy is medaling in motherhood]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/02/content_37498134.htm US Olympic champ speaking out about maternity protection for athletes

About a month after her daughter's emergency delivery, US sprinter Allyson Felix went through one of her toughest workouts - a 30-minute walk.

It was then the six-time Olympic gold medalist realized just how difficult the road ahead would be in her return to track.

It was also when she became even more determined to line up for another sort of race: Campaigning for greater maternity protection from sponsors.

 

Felix and other track moms are speaking up, and their voices are starting to be heard. On Wednesday Felix agreed to a sponsorship deal with the women's apparel company Athleta that offers maternity safeguards and guarantees.

"I totally want to be remembered for having some impact on the sport, having changed things for women of the next generation to not have to feel like they have to choose between a career and motherhood," Felix said in a phone interview.

"If I could walk away from the sport with some of these issues looking a little different, that's a win."

Felix was only 32 weeks into her pregnancy when daughter Camryn was delivered via emergency C-section after tests showed the baby's heart rate had dropped to dangerous levels. Camryn weighed in at 3 pounds, 7 ounces.

At the time, Felix was without a contract. She'd been trying to renew her deal with Nike since it ran out in December 2017. She wanted to start a family last year but was worried about the ramifications.

The 33-year-old explained her situation in a New York Times article on May 22: Nike wanted to pay her 70 percent less. Although she was willing to accept a reduction, she wanted assurances on maternity.

Nike declined.

Fellow US Olympians Alysia Montano and Kara Goucher also spoke out about the need for sponsors to support female competitors before, during and after pregnancy and that contracts shouldn't penalize someone for starting a family.

On May 17, Nike announced: "Last year we standardized our approach across all sports to support our female athletes during pregnancy, but we recognize we can go even further. We can do more. There is an important opportunity for the sports industry to evolve to support female athletes."

For Felix, taking an initial stand was daunting. She didn't know if there would be repercussions.

"I just felt compelled," she said. "I think it was becoming a mother and knowing that this is a world that my daughter will grow up in. Even though it's uncomfortable and still scary, sometimes you just have to talk about your experiences. When I did I was just overwhelmed with the stories that women shared with me. It just reinforced that it was the right thing to do."

Athleta brought Felix on board with a wide-ranging partnership deal as the company's first sponsored athlete. The partnership includes collaboration on initiatives to empower women and a hand in designing products.

"When you're supported in that way, you are now a better athlete, you're a better mother and you're a better person," said Felix, who's still working on obtaining a shoe contract. "It's already hard enough to be a new mother. It's extremely difficult to be an athlete. It's so much better this way."

The road back to sprinting hasn't been easy - and Felix wasn't sure if she would make it back.

She remembered one day in early December being in the newborn intensive care unit with her daughter, who was struggling to breathe.

"I just remember feeling heavy and feeling like I don't know if I would return," she said. "I don't know if it's still as important to me."

Her first workout was a simple walk. Her first track practice wasn't until around March.

Gradually, Felix is rounding back into form.

At the US championships last weekend, she finished sixth in the 400m final during her first competition in 13 months. A solid step forward and one that earned her a chance to possibly run in the relay at the world championships in Doha, Qatar, this fall.

Felix is on the fence about making the trip if selected.

She wants to dedicate her time to training, and her priority is being in top shape a year from now for the Tokyo Games.

Plus, there are plenty of things to do at home - like take her daughter to swim classes.

Gradually, Felix is getting the hang of balancing running and motherhood.

"The biggest change has just been not getting as much sleep and feeling exhausted," she said with a laugh. "But you figure it out and you just find a way."

She wants more moments like when her husband handed Camryn to her after she finished the 400 at the nationals.

Felix is yearning for a similar scene in Tokyo next summer as she tries to make her fifth Olympic team.

"I look forward to being able to compete there and have Camryn there with me," she said.

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2019-08-02 08:16:04
<![CDATA[Astros ratchet up rotation by adding Greinke, Sanchez]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/02/content_37498133.htm Zack Greinke held the New York Yankees to two runs on two hits over five innings on Wednesday - and that was the good news for the Bronx Bombers when it comes to the veteran pitcher.

Just minutes before the MLB's trade deadline, the Houston Astros acquired Greinke from the Arizona Diamondbacks, vaulting the Astros over the Yankees as the new favorites to win the American League pennant.

What's more, the New York Post's Joel Sherman reported the Yankees were in pursuit of Toronto pitcher Aaron Sanchez - but the Astros got him, too.

The Blue Jays also sent pitcher Joe Biagini and minor-league outfielder Cal Stevenson to Houston with Sanchez, in exchange for outfielder Derek Fisher.

The Diamondbacks got four prospects for Greinke: first baseman/outfielder Seth Beer (the Astros' No 3 prospect per MLB Pipeline), right-handed pitcher JB Bukauskas (No 4), righty Corbin Martin (No 5) and utility player Joshua Rojas (No 22).

Houston was able to hold onto its two most prized prospects, outfielder Kyle Tucker and right-handed pitcher Forrest Whitley.

Greinke, 35, is in the midst of another stellar season.

The right-hander has a 10-4 record and 2.90 ERA, and his 0.95 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) was tops in the National League.

He has been an All-Star in each of the past three of his four seasons in Arizona. He is 197-122 with a 3.36 ERA over his 16-year career.

"He's done some very special things, and I think the fans of Arizona will realize that," Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said after Wednesday's 7-5 loss to the Yankees. "Zack is a potential future Hall of Famer in my eyes."

Lovullo broke the news to Greinke during the contest when they went into the locker room to chat.

"He took it right in stride and was OK. He said some nice things about this organization and in typical Zack fashion, he asked some questions and he was ready to move on," Lovullo said.

"He's been in this game a long time. He's had situations like this before. It's tough and I'm sure he will be dealing with some of the circumstances around today's craziness.

"But he's going to go and pitch well for that club."

Sanchez, 27, was an All-Star in 2016 and led the AL in winning percentage and ERA.

He has struggled mightily this season, winning just three games while losing a league-worst 14 and sporting a 6.07 ERA in 23 starts. He has a career record of 32-33, with a 3.96 ERA.

Biagini, 29, is 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA in 49 games out of the bullpen this season, picking up a save along the way.

In four seasons, he has a 4.76 ERA in 203 games, with 22 career starts.

In another last-minute move at the deadline, the Atlanta Braves acquired heavily pursued All-Star closer Shane Greene from the Detroit Tigers.

The Braves gave the Tigers their No 7 prospect, left-hander Joey Wentz, along with outfielder Travis Demeritte.

Greene, 30, has 22 saves and a 1.18 ERA in 38 games this season, after saving 32 games in 2018.

The Braves later announced a trade for reliever Mark Melancon from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for righties Dan Winkler and Tristan Beck. After battling injuries for a couple seasons, the 34-year-old Melancon has thrown 46.1 innings this year, going 4-2 with a 3.50 ERA.

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2019-08-02 08:16:04
<![CDATA[From hardship to hoop dreams]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/02/content_37498132.htm Disadvantaged kids from rural Shanxi beating the odds on court

On a sweltering summer afternoon in Shanxi's capital Taiyuan, three schoolgirls shoot hoops on a playground, sweat dripping down their faces.

Despite the oppressive heat, Yao Xiaoni, a kid from the poverty-stricken Taiyue Mountain region, is enjoying every minute of it.

"It was not easy to get out of the mountains," the 12-year-old told Xinhua as she recalled her bleak upbringing.

 

Dedicated young hoopster Yao Xiaoni (left) demonstrates her passing skill in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, last month. Sun Liangquan / Xinhua

Back then, basketball was her only hope.

Yao was born and raised in the remote village of Jingfeng, where, 20 years ago, residents could not even afford flour.

Her family was thrown into deeper poverty in 2013 when her father, Yao Zhansheng, took ill and required a kidney transplant. Her mother, Duan Jian'e, wanted to donate one of her kidneys to save her husband, but the family could not afford the operation.

With the help of local government and loans from relatives and neighbors, Yao's father was saved but was forced to take long-term medication that ruled him out of work.

By 2017, however, investment in rural tourism as part of the government's poverty reduction efforts saw Yao's family gradually become better off. It was during this time that Yao first picked up a basketball.

Despite its remoteness, Yao's county, Qinyuan (population 160,000), boasts 306 basketball teams and 218 courts. One of those was built at Yao's primary school in 2017.

Last year, the Chinese Basketball Association and its president Yao Ming began to promote 'mini-basketball' (which features a lower basket and a smaller ball and court) for kids aged 6 to 12. Yao Xiaoni's former school jumped at the chance to get involved.

"We just had to take part in the mini-basketball league," said Liu Yalin, headmaster of Jingfeng Central Primary School.

Yao's all-girls team then showed up the boys to earn the right to represent the school in a county tournament. However, when it emerged that they would be the only girls team, headmaster Liu instead sent a mixed team, with Yao making the cut.

She continued to impress at the tournament and was selected to represent the city of Changzhi in a provincial competition.

Changzhi finished in the top four and Yao's performances caught the eye of Wang Gaihuan, a coach at Taiyuan's Jinshan Middle School, who decided to recruit her.

"She wore a pair of cloth shoes to play, while other players had proper basketball shoes," Wang told Xinhua. "She has a spirit of perseverance. She has impressed me a lot. "When I asked her whether she wants to go on playing basketball, Yao said yes.

"At that moment, I saw hope gleaming in her eyes and I told myself that I must try my best to teach her."

Yao's dedication has been unerring, with the youngster training hard every day after school.

After beating poverty and other difficulties in her life, she now yearns to beat opponents on the court and keep progressing through the ranks - but she'll always stay true to her roots.

"I really want to reach the podium of the national tournament in the future, and then I would like to go to Beijing with my family," Yao said.

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2019-08-02 08:16:04
<![CDATA[Youth will be served at China Open]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/02/content_37498131.htm The surging youth movement in men's tennis will thrill fans at this year's China Open as a group of elite young stars are primed to compete in the Sept 30-Oct 6 ATP 500 tournament at the National Tennis Center in north Beijing.

Leading a strong early-entry field is Austria's world No 4 Dominic Thiem, primed for a breakthrough in his return to the Chinese capital after a two-year hiatus. The 25-year-old is determined to make his third appearance a memorable one after bowing out in the first round in both 2015 and 2016.

"It's been a while since my last trip to Beijing, but I hope this will be a successful comeback for me at the China Open," said Thiem, who won his second-round match on Wednesday in the Generali Open, an ATP 250 event in his home country.

 

From left: Felix Auger-Aliassime, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Karen Khachanov are among a number of exciting young guns set to play at this year's China Open in Beijing. Provided to China Daily

"It's an outstanding tournament and has been home for lots of great players in the past. I'm hoping many fans come out to watch me and other top ATP Tour stars compete on the Diamond Court."

Joining Thiem in the first group of players confirmed by the tournament on Wednesday will be rising Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas, Russia's world No 8 Karen Khachanov and 18-year-old Canadian prodigy Felix Auger-Aliassime.

The arrival of such a young legion, all born after 1993, will showcase the next galaxy of men's stars in front of the game's growing fanbase in China, said organizers.

"We are excited to have this group all together in Beijing, which certainly will entertain the fans," said China Open tournament director Zhang Junhui.

Having pulled off a series of upsets against the world's best this year, these future stars are eager to continue challenging their major-winning elite rivals on the tour's Asia swing.

Thiem claimed a career breakthrough in March when he won the prestigious ATP Masters 1000 event at Indian Wells, beating 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer.

Several weeks later, the 13-time ATP event winner registered another milestone victory by beating Spain's clay-court master Rafael Nadal on his favorite surface in the semifinals of the Barcelona Open.

At the French Open, Thiem proved his resilience by outlasting world No 1 Novak Djokovic in five sets over two days in the semifinals to reach his second Grand Slam final on the heels of a 2018 final appearance at Roland Garros.

The Austrian is famous for his superb ground strokes, ranging from a powerful one-handed backhand to a punishing forehand. He also possesses a forceful serve.

"Thiem's outstanding performance, charming appearance and sharp touch have won him a large following worldwide," said Zhang. "He is going to be one of the most popular players at this year's China Open."

The rise of Tsitsipas is another feel-good story. Having won two titles and reached a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time at this year's Australian Open, the Greek is playing at a torrid pace and looks set to maintain his early-season form in Beijing.

The 20-year-old beat Federer 3-1 in the fourth round in Melbourne to mark his biggest career win to date.

"I've heard a lot of exciting things about the China Open and I know the fans in Beijing are extremely passionate," said Tsitsipas, at No 6 the youngest player in the world's top 10.

"I can't wait to experience China's culture and passion for the game."

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2019-08-02 08:16:04
<![CDATA[Fan-favorite Halep returns to Wuhan]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/02/content_37498130.htm As a WTA Premier 5 tournament with a $2.8 million prize pool and 900 ranking points, the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open is one of the top destinations for the world's top female players, with Wimbledon champion Simona Halep of Romania heading this year's field.

The tournament, which last year saw 19 of the world's top 20 competing, is returning to the capital city of Hubei province from Sept 22-28.

"I'm really looking forward to returning to the Wuhan Open for the sixth time," said Halep, who needed just 56 minutes to crush Serena Williams 6-2, 6-2 in a sublime performance at Wimbledon last month.

"Every time we go back, the site is bigger and better and the tournament always takes special care of us, so I can't wait to return and play in front of the great fans there."

World No 4 Halep is no stranger to fans in Wuhan. She has competed every year since the tournament's inception in 2014, with her best result a semifinal loss to eventual champion Petra Kvitova in 2016.

"We all watched Simona play an incredible two weeks of tennis at Wimbledon and congratulate her on her outstanding achievement," said Wuhan Open co-director Brenda Perry.

"Throughout her career, Simona has displayed great courage in victory and defeat and is an inspiration for all who watch her play. We are thrilled she has chosen to return for the sixth consecutive year."

One of the most popular players on the tour, Halep, who will celebrate her 28th birthday on Sept 27, was voted the WTA's Fan Favorite in 2017 and 2018.

"Simona has been a loyal supporter of the Wuhan Open since our very first tournament and we are delighted to welcome her back as Wimbledon champion," added tournament co-director Li Qiuping.

"Simona has always brought energy and smiles to Wuhan and has become a big favorite among fans who will be excited to see her in action on the court and taking part in fan activities during the event. We look forward to celebrating both her birthday and her most recent Grand Slam triumph."

Halep won the French Open last year and spent a total of 64 weeks as world No 1. Following her Wimbledon triumph, she was honored by her home country and named flag bearer for Romania at next year's Tokyo Olympics.

"She really played out of her mind; whenever a player is that amazing you just have to take your hat off and give her a nod," said megastar Williams after the Wimbledon final.

Halep's talent and fortitude have also impressed men's ace Novak Djokovic.

"It was really impressive how she handled herself in her first Wimbledon final against an all-time great. Serena is a fierce competitor who has won Wimbledon titles many, many times," said Djokovic. "Simona showed why she's a great champion."

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2019-08-02 08:16:04
<![CDATA[Roping in a new set of standards]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/01/content_37497688.htm Women starting to make their mark in professional competitions, as Xinhua reports from Cheyenne, Wyoming

Jimmi Jo Montera's daddy put her on a horse when she was 3 years old. By the age of 4, the blonde, pony-tailed girl was roping cattle.

Last weekend, some 40 years later, Montera was back in the saddle, thrilling a huge crowd as one of rodeo's top female calf ropers at the annual Frontier Days rodeo in Cheyenne, capital of the US state of Wyoming.

Women's calf roping has been a competitive event in American high schools and colleges for more than a decade, but the event in Cheyenne was the first time women have been able to compete in it professionally.

A 2018 Cowboy Lifestyle Network report listed 25 rodeo cowboys who have made more than $2 million in the sport, led by calf roper Trevor Brazil's career earnings of $6,079,528.

In 2017, Forbes magazine called professional bull riding "America's fastest-growing sport economically", with revenues of $70 million. Prize money has steadily increased as rodeo's popularity continues to climb.

Show their skills

With women's breakaway roping, cowgirls now have an opportunity to make money, show their skills and enhance the popular sport.

"Breakaway roping is great for the sport," Montera said. "It's another event, along with barrel racing, where you can see women participating in pro rodeo."

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, the native of Greeley, Colorado, said that prize money offered at the professional level directly affects the ability of many performers to participate.

With the average rodeo performer's earnings ranging from $40,000 to $170,000, according to idahopress.com, many competitors struggle to make ends meet.

"Now you can win enough to make it profitable," Montera said, noting that riders must cover considerable expenses to compete on the North American circuit, including costs of trailers and "hauling their horses" all over the US and Western Canada.

Hottest ticket

Cheyenne Frontier Days officials told Xinhua the ladies' breakaway roping competition was the hottest ticket at this year's show.

"More than 200 women signed up to compete, filling all available slots in less than eight minutes," an official said of the huge interest in the new event.

Professional rodeos generally include tie-down roping, team roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, bull riding and barrel racing. Now there's a new event in town.

"Breakaway is where you rope the calf and the rope is tied to the saddle horn with a string. When you rope the calf, your horse stops, the rope breaks... and that's your time," Montera said.

"It's different from what the men do, where they need to get down off the horse and tie their calf - it's a pretty quick event."

Women are not new to rodeo. Rose Henderson debuted at the Cheyenne rodeo in 1901, and by 1920 women were competing in rough-stock events, relay races and trick riding. In 1928, barrel racing became the first pro sport for women on horseback.

Rodeo defines America's western culture, using horses and other livestock to test the skill and speed of the cowboys and cowgirls.

Also popular in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, rodeo's roots in America are deep - dating to scattered competitions with Mexican caballeros in the 1820s. Pioneers relied on horses for transportation and survival, and cattle became their business and specialty.

This year's Cheyenne Frontier Days women's calf roping was won by South Dakota's Syerra Christensen, who pocketed $4,406 for a 4.01-second run. But Montera's name was among the leaders.

'Good opportunity'

Montera and her husband invite friends over for regular "roping parties". They live on a ranch in northern Colorado, not far from the Wyoming border, and their sons attend the University of Colorado in nearby Boulder.

Few rodeo competitors have taken a break from the sport to have two sons - now both 6-foot-5 basketball players - and Montera only recently switched to calf roping from the women's team event.

"It's probably been 20 years since I practiced really hard for breakaway, but there's so much more to it now ... it's a good opportunity," she said.

Montera also had a personal message to women who might consider getting into calf roping: "Don't limit yourself - whatever your passion is, whether it be roping or another sport - go for it."

 

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2019-08-01 07:37:12
<![CDATA[Going from 'Linsanity' to 'rock bottom', Jeremy's seen it all]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/01/content_37497687.htm Jeremy Lin broke down in tears during an emotional appearance in Chinese Taipei when he described hitting "rock bottom" and feeling abandoned by the NBA as he languishes as a free agent.

As a member of the Toronto Raptors last season, Lin became the first Asian-American to win an NBA title, but he was often benched during the playoffs as he struggled with his form.

The player who inspired the 'Linsanity' hysteria of 2012 became an unrestricted free agent this summer and is still without a team as the new season approaches.

Lin wept as he recounted his career trajectory while on stage at a church in Chinese Taipei, from where his parents emigrated to the United States.

"Free agency has been tough because I feel like in some ways the NBA has kind of given up on me," he told the crowd in a heartfelt address.

He said he had waited years to play for the Raptors but felt his time with the team was plagued by the "worst shooting" of his career.

Lin averaged just 3.4 minutes in the playoffs and one minute on the court during the Finals.

Free agency was "the last straw that broke the camel's back", he said, after which he hung his head and wept.

"Every year it gets harder," Lin said after he managed to compose himself. "In English there's a saying that once you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up. But rock bottom just seems to keep getting more and more rock bottom for me."

Lin was speaking at a New Taipei City Sunday church event that was broadcast live on Good TV.

Lin has struggled with injuries and inconsistency since he sparked 'Linsanity' for the New Yorks Knicks in 2012 by leading them to a seven-game win streak early in the season that evened their record at 15-15. He averaged 22 points per game during the streak.

That season elevated Lin's stardom far beyond the US to Asia, where basketball has a huge following even though there has long been a shortage of Asian players in the NBA.

In 2017, Lin sustained a serious knee injury while playing for the Brooklyn Nets.

"I'm here to just tell you to not give up," Lin told the 2,000 fans who showed up to hear him speak.

The Harvard graduate point guard, who was born in Los Angeles, started his professional career in 2010 with the Golden State Warriors.

He has played for eight teams in his nine-year pro career, including the Knicks, Houston Rockets, LA Lakers and Charlotte Hornets.

Lin was on an Asian visit over the past week and attended Monday's Chinese Basketball Association Draft with CBA chairman and former NBA All-Star center Yao Ming on Monday.

Lin's appearance stirred another round of rumors about his possibly joining a CBA club. Seeing how he is loved in China, a stint in the CBA would seem to make sense.

Several NBA stars, most famously Stephon Marbury, have gone that route, so Lin should have no trouble doing the same.

Lin has already proven that he can be an asset either as a starter or an effective contributor coming off the bench.

Another consideration would be the huge commercial market behind him should he decide to join a club in China.

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2019-08-01 07:37:12
<![CDATA[Tackling China's paucity of pitches]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/01/content_37497686.htm Government-subsidized construction plan hailed as crucial for growing game

Despite the massive investment in grassroots Chinese soccer in recent years, actually finding a pitch to play on can be a challenge - depending on where you live.

However, an ambitious new government construction plan is aimed at ending the nation's pitch paucity.

The plan was detailed in a document jointly published by the National Development and Reform Commission, the General Administration of Sport of China and the Chinese Football Association on Tuesday.

Newly constructed 11-a-side pitches will be subsidized by two million yuan ($290,600) each, while five-a-side and seven-a-side pitches will be subsidized by up to one million yuan each.

The refurbishment of existing pitches is not included in the plan, which also encourages local governments to further subsidize newly built pitches through government funding, the sports lottery and other channels.

"The new plan aims at ensuring better soccer infrastructure in China. It will provide a solid foundation to organize soccer activities and provides fresh impetus for the healthy and sustainable development of Chinese soccer," Feng Jinhu, secretary-general of the China Sports Venue Association, told National Business Daily.

"Currently, the total number of soccer pitches in our country is still not enough to meet the growing demand of people. The plan also prioritizes the building of pitches that are close to people and covers populous areas that have a high demand for quality pitches. That will greatly help residents in both rural and urban areas to embrace the sport."

Like many soccer enthusiasts around the country, Xi'an office worker Zhu Zimu is hopeful the plan will eventually take a lot of the hassle out of playing midweek matches.

"It's not easy to find a nearby soccer pitch, so it's not an easy decision to make if I want to play after work each day," he said.

"Sneaking into a campus is my quick solution for a pitch; otherwise I find it really hard to find a decent pitch for a match with my friends."

China kicked off a wide-ranging soccer reform plan in 2015, with the ultimate aim of improving the national team's performances and qualifying for the World Cup once again.

But while the sport is growing in popularity, China remains a minnow at international level and facilities still lag behind powerhouses such as Germany and France.

Chen Guoqiang, an associate professor at Shanghai University of Sport, has warned against ad-hoc investment in the sport and reckons the new subsidization plan needs to be carefully implemented to ensure its success.

"The new policy and the subsidization are big boosts for soccer's growth, which is a great start, but there is much more work to be done," said Chen.

"Different cities have different economic situations, and the conditions of the rural and urban areas are not the same. The construction of new pitches should be processed according to actual local situations.

"The construction of new pitches should consider the local soccer atmosphere, the city management capability and local people's interest in soccer. The maintenance and the operation of the new pitches are also challenges ahead. Leveling up China's soccer strength is not a task that can be done by one generation, and more effort should be made to achieve that goal."

shifutian@chinadaily.com.cn

Genesio replaces fired Schmidt at Guo'an

Frenchman Bruno Genesio was installed as the new head coach of Beijing Guo'an on Wednesday after Roger Schmidt paid the price for the team's alarming recent slump.

Guo'an axed German Schmidt in the wake of the three-match losing streak that has seen the capital club surrender the Chinese Super League lead to Guangzhou Evergrande and crash out of the CFA Cup to Shandong Luneng.

Announcing Genesio's arrival, a statement on Guo'an's website read: "As of July 31, Mr. Roger Schmidt is no longer the head coach of Beijing Guo'an.

"Since July 2017, Mr. Schmidt took over the team and played 83 games, recording 46 wins, 14 draws and 23 defeats. Under his reign, Guo'an won the 2018 CFA Cup. We thank Mr. Schmidt for his devotion over the past two years and wish him the best.

"On the same day, the club has announced the hiring of Bruno Genesio as the new coach until the end of this season, with no disclosure of his salary.

"Coach Bruno Genesio values the integrity of the team. He also attaches importance to not giving opponents the chance to play fast counter-attack. We welcome Genesio to our club and hope he can lead the team to play well for the rest of the season."

Schmidt had enjoyed a dream first half to this year's campaign, winning 10 straight matches as his team sat atop the standings for months to have Guo'an fans hoping for a first title since 2009.

However, damaging 1-0 league losses at Jiangsu Suning and lowly Henan Jianye in recent weeks have gifted the momentum to Evergrande, which now sits four points clear of third-place Guo'an and defending champion Shanghai SIPG, which is second.

Meanwhile, Guo'an has also announced the loan signing of Brazilian defensive midfielder Fernando, 27, from Spartak Moscow.

Guo'an's midfield has been creaking recently following the loss of star playmaker Jonathan Viera, who has been sidelined with a rib fracture.

Former Gremio, Shakhtar Donetsk and Sampdoria player Fernando, who has eight Brazil caps, could make his debut in Friday's home CSL clash against Hebei China Fortune.

With striker Cedric Bakambu's tribulations in front of goal adding to Guo'an's woes, the club also attempted to bolster its striking options, but saw a bid for French forward Wissam Ben Yedder rejected by Sevilla.

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2019-08-01 07:37:12
<![CDATA[Zidane: Bale absent due to illness]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-08/01/content_37497685.htm Zinedine Zidane is claiming Gareth Bale was scratched from Real Madrid's preseason friendly against Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday due to illness.

Following the collapse of his proposed move to China, Bale did not travel to Munich for the Audi Cup match, which Spurs won 1-0 thanks to a first-half Harry Kane strike.

British media reported Bale was fuming at the refusal of Real president Florentino Perez to approve his departure, with Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning wanting to acquire the 30-year-old on a free transfer.

Zidane, though, did not link the Suning saga to Bale's absence, saying after the match: "Bale didn't travel with us because he didn't feel that well.

"The doctors said he was unwell and the best thing for him was to stay in Madrid. He's training individually in Madrid."

Bale has been used sparingly in Real's preseason, last featuring off the bench in the second half of a 7-3 loss to Atletico Madrid in New Jersey last Friday.

The 30-year-old, who has won four Champions League titles since joining Madrid from Tottenham in 2013, is out of favor with Zidane, who last week said it would "be best for everyone" if the Welsh forward found a new club.

Wednesday's closure of the Chinese transfer window ended any hope Bale had of a mega-money escape route to the CSL.

Tottenham, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain have all been linked with Bale in recent months, but it would seem none of them are prepared to match the $800,000 weekly salary he's getting at Real.

Pochettino prickly

Meanwhile, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino appeared to vent some frustration at his lack of input into the Londoners' transfer dealings.

With a little over a week of the English transfer window remaining, Spurs have only signed two players - midfielder Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon for a club-record 65 million pounds ($79 million) and 10 million pound teenage forward Jack Clarke from Leeds United, who has been loaned back to second-tier side for the season.

Chairman Daniel Levy, the man who oversaw Bale's then world-record sale to Madrid, has retained firm control of the Tottenham coffers throughout Pochettino's fiveyear reign at the club.

Pochettino became prickly after the victory in Munich when asked about leftback Danny Rose's future and possible new signings, saying his job title should be changed from manager to coach as he has no influence over transfers.

"I am not in charge of this. I know nothing about the situation of my players, I am only coaching them, trying to get the best from them.

"Things that may or may not happen - sell or buy players, extend contracts or not extend contracts - it's not in my hands, it's in the club's hands and in Daniel Levy's hands.

"At the moment I am just managing the team in the best way possible.

"The club needs to change my title and job description, no? My job now is to coach the team. It's not a question for me, it's a question for the club and maybe they need to change my title."

Asked if his role had changed recently, the Argentine replied: "That is not a question for me. I am only the person on the touchline managing the team. I don't have an answer. I can only tell you what is my concern."

Meanwhile, speculation that Rose is looking for a Spurs exit could be wide of the mark, with the England international a surprise starter in Bavaria against Real, for whom marquee summer signing Eden Hazard underwhelmed.

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2019-08-01 07:37:12
<![CDATA[Keeping motion on the ocean]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/31/content_37497133.htm Prospective Olympian prefers the open sea to riding waves in a pool

LIMA, Peru - American surfer Kevin Schulz loves wave pools but he's on firm ground when it comes to "hangin' 10" at the Olympics.

It should always be in the ocean.

The inclusion of surfing at next year's Tokyo Olympics has generated a wave of excitement and a fresh dimension as the International Olympic Committee seeks younger audiences. The big question is Tokyo's wave quality.

Japan's surfing culture goes back more than a century, but it's not known for the kind of giant waves found at famed surfing hot spots like Hawaii's north shore or California's Big Sur.

"Surfing began in the ocean and it should be represented in its purest form at the Olympics," said Schulz, who along with Canada's Cody Young made history on Monday as the first competitors in the ocean during the sport's Pan American Games debut in Lima.

"Consistency can be replicated in a pool... but in the ocean you have factors that play into a contest priority," Schulz said.

"There are more than one or two or three waves at a time. There's a larger playing field. There are more inconsistencies, but also more opportunities."

Surfing is one of the "wait and see" sports at the Pan Am Games. That means the top male and female surfers not yet qualified for the Olympics can earn a ticket to Tokyo.

Before surfing was included in the Olympics, the president of the International Surfing Association said the introduction of wave pool technology would be a "game changer" for surfing that would "drive us toward the goal of Olympic inclusion".

If wave pools are used, potentially any city hosting the Games could have surfing on the program.

Surf parks featuring massive pools with repeating, artificial waves have excited the surf community for years, as supporters from top athletes to retailers look for ways to swell the sport, lift sales and build a standardized way to train - even more so now that the sport has earned its coveted Olympic pedigree.

Kelly Slater, the 11-time world champion, has also been credited with creating the perfect artificial wave.

Last year, Slater introduced his Surf Ranch in a patch of California's Central Valley, about 160 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean.

With the push of a button, a hydrofoil moves along a track in a man-made lake to form waves for surfers to ride in a controlled environment. The World Surf League has run the Founders' Cup at Slater's ranch.

Many surfers have used wave pools as a supplement to the ocean to refine their skills on a consistent wave or just to enjoy some rides when natural conditions wouldn't allow it.

Some critics say that in the rush to surf parks, the sport could lose its soul. They say artificial waves could sanitize and commercialize a sport that the most passionate surfers describe as a rugged, solitary pursuit in which athletes commune with nature.

Schulz, the 2018 Jacks Pro QS 1500 champion, says he "loves "wave pools.

Last month, he won Stab High's "Freak Peak" event in Waco, Texas, with what has been called the biggest air landed in the history of BSR Wavepool.

"I don't think it takes away from surfing in the ocean. If anything, it allows us to broaden our spectrum - it allows people who don't live near the ocean to surf," Schulz said.

"That being said, surfing in the ocean, will always be the purest form of surfing.

"I just don't think that the Olympics should be held in a pool. It's not natural."

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2019-07-31 07:31:36
<![CDATA[Fans to sue over Ronaldo benching]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/31/content_37497132.htm

SEOUL - More than 2,000 South Korean soccer fans plan to sue a sports agency after superstar Cristiano Ronaldo stayed on the bench when his Juventus side played a friendly in Seoul last week, a law firm said on Monday.

The Portuguese striker did not play a single second of the match against a K-league all-star team, ignoring appeals from the capacity crowd of 65,000 at the World Cup Stadium to lace up his boots.

With frustration mounting, some even chanted the name of his great Argentine rival Lionel Messi.

When the game was first announced, organizers said the contract with Juventus obliged Ronaldo to play at least 45 minutes, prompting many fans to buy tickets, according to Seoul law firm Myungan.

Priced from 30,000 won ($25) to 400,000 won ($338), the tickets sold out in less than three hours when they were released on July 3.

"So far, over 2,000 fans have contacted us to pursue the suit," Myungan attorney Kim Hun-ki told AFP.

"We plan to officially file the suit sometime next week, if the agency doesn't offer a concrete plan to compensate ticket holders before then."

The Italian team's flight from Nanjing, where Juve played Inter Milan, was delayed, thereby pushing forward kickoff in Seoul by an hour.

Robin Zhang, CEO of The Festa, the Korean agency that arranged the game, wept as she told local broadcaster SBS that she had complained to Juventus vice-chairman Pavel Nedved during the match.

Zhang said Nedved responded with: "I also hope Ronaldo plays, but he says he doesn't want to."

Zhang pledged to "find ways to compensate" ticket holders.

Ronaldo has been subjected to a backlash on social media. "He belittled us," one spectator posted on Instagram. "I'm no longer a Ronaldo fan."

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2019-07-31 07:31:36
<![CDATA[Neymar rape investigation scrapped over lack of evidence]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/31/content_37497131.htm SAO PAULO - Police in Brazil investigating rape allegations against Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar have closed the case due to a lack of evidence, the Sao Paulo attorney general's office said on Monday.

The police decision will be sent to prosecutors, who will have 15 days to evaluate the case, a representative of the attorney general's office told AFP.

A final ruling on the case will be made by a judge.

A spokesman for Neymar said he was not able to comment on the police decision.

Neymar has vehemently denied allegations he raped a Brazilian woman in a Paris hotel in May.

The ugly affair, which has dominated headlines and conversations in the soccer-mad country for weeks, overshadowed Brazil's preparations for the Copa America.

Host Brazil went on to win South America's showcase tournament earlier this month without Neymar, who was injured in a warm-up friendly before the opening match.

The scandal blew up on June 2 when Neymar published a seven-minute video on Instagram, where he had first been in contact with Najila Trindade, revealing that he was being accused of rape.

In an attempt to defend himself against the allegations, Neymar's video was accompanied by WhatsApp messages and images of his encounter with Trindade - without her consent, possibly breaking Brazilian law.

The drama quickly snowballed. Extracts of a televised interview with Trindade, in which she accused Neymar of "aggression together with rape", aired just an hour before he was about to take the pitch for the pre-Copa game against Qatar.

Neymar tore his right ankle ligament in the 20th minute, ruling him out of the tournament.

In the following weeks, Neymar was questioned by police over the WhatsApp messages.

He also appeared before police in Sao Paulo, where Trindade filed her complaint at the end of May.

As the case dragged on, police filed a defamation suit against Trindade - who was dropped by multiple lawyers - after she insinuated the force was corrupt.

"The police are bought, aren't they? Or am I crazy?" she told television channel SBT last month in response to questions over the police investigation of an alleged theft of a tablet device from her home that contained a short video she claims has conclusive evidence she was assaulted.

Despite the seriousness of the allegations, polls have shown most Brazilians believe Neymar is innocent.

The PSG player flew back to France earlier this month, and the 27-year-old is now angling for a return to his former club, Barcelona.

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2019-07-31 07:31:36
<![CDATA[Suning's Santini signing extinguishes buzz over Bale]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/31/content_37497130.htm

Welsh superstar's proposed Jiangsu move is off as agent blames Madrid

The arrival of any foreign player to the Chinese Super League can usually be guaranteed to generate varying degrees of fanfare and excitement from media and fans alike.

Monday's announcement that journeyman Croatian striker Ivan Santini had joined Jiangsu Suning, however, elicited only disappointment and a sense of anti-climax.

With Santini's capture filling Suning's foreign-player quota, the signing signaled the end of the Nanjing-based club's highly publicized pursuit of Welsh superstar Gareth Bale.

Eagerly anticipated as a massive coup for Suning and the CSL, the deal reportedly would have netted Bale an eye-popping weekly salary of $1.25 million and shifted global glare onto the league like never before.

Instead, Suning has made do with the little-known Santini from Belgian club Anderlecht. Both he and Bale are 30 years old, but there the similarities end - and the gulf in class and star power could hardly be greater.

On Monday, Bale's agent, Jonathan Barnett, attempted to exonerate his client from any blame for the collapse of the deal.

"Stories suggesting that Gareth or his family were the reason the deal did not take place are completely false," Barnett told Sky Sports, responding to Spanish reports that Bale's wife was not so keen on relocating to China.

It is widely believed Madrid president Florentino Perez was the real reason the move collapsed. Perez reportedly would not agree to Bale, who is contracted at the Bernabeu until 2022, leaving for free or for a relatively nominal fee.

The transfer fee or lack of it had been key to the move, given that Suning would have to pay a 100 percent tax in line with CSL rules on imports.

The abrupt end to Bale's proposed move was all the more surprising given Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane had left it in no doubt he wanted the Welsh winger gone, saying before a preseason match last week that Bale's departure "would be best for everyone".

Zidane's very public disdain for Bale drew fresh criticism from Barnett on Monday.

"It's simple, Zidane doesn't like Gareth. There's no relationship between them. There never has been," the agent said.

"Zidane is a disgrace; he shows no respect for a player that has done so much for Real Madrid."

Barnett is not the only one somewhat perplexed at Bale's treatment at Madrid. Since signing from Tottenham for a then world-record fee of around $105 million in 2013, Bale has won four Champions League titles, scoring in two finals - most memorably when his spectacular overhead kick floored Liverpool in the 2018 decider.

Still, Bale remains ostracized by Madrid fans and Zidane, and has now been omitted from the Real squad for Tuesday's preseason match against Spurs in Munich.

The Spanish giant said on its website that Bale would instead train with injured teammate Luka Jovic.

Speculation over Bale's future will now inevitably rumble on, but finding a club willing to match his $800,000 weekly salary could be a major stumbling block.

At the time of the writing, rumors continued to swirl that another CSL club, Beijing Guo'an, might still swoop for Bale before the Chinese transfer window shuts on Wednesday.

Bayern Munich, Spurs, Manchester United and Liverpool have all been linked with Bale in recent months, although Anfield manager Jurgen Klopp all but ruled out a Reds move last week, telling Sky Sports: "Bale is a Real Madrid player; if he leaves he will be outstandingly expensive, with big wages.

"It's not just about him. You have to create a team. A team is not a collection of individuals. We are not going for these single players and hoping they will solve the future for us."

A more probable destination would be Paris Saint-Germain, especially if Neymar gets his way and returns to Barcelona.

Meanwhile, back at Suning, coach Cosmin Olaroiu will hope that despite his low profile, Santini can hit the ground running to boost the fifth-placed team's chances for a top-four finish and possible qualification for the Asian Champions League.

The 6-foot-2 forward, who has five Croatian caps, netted 16 times for Anderlecht last term and has also been prolific in recent seasons for Belgian clubs Standard Liege and Kortrijk, as well as Caen in France.

With Argentine Gabriel Paletta expected to leave Suning, Santini completes the team's four-man overseas player quota, along with fellow new arrival Miranda, Alex Teixeira (both Brazilians) and Italian Eder.

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2019-07-31 07:31:36
<![CDATA[Aussie doping case has exposed double standard]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/31/content_37497129.htm

According to news.com.au, Swimming Australia might have engaged in a cover-up to protect female athlete Shanya Jack. If true, the allegations expose double standards and utter hypocrisy in the treatment of Chinese Olympic champion Sun Yang by both Swimming Australia and some of Sun's fellow athletes.

Late last month, Jack failed a doping test for a drug called Ligandrol, which increases muscle growth. However, when the 20-year-old was abruptly withdrawn from the FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, on July 14, Swimming Australia put it down to "personal reasons".

Both Swimming Australia and the country's sports minister have defended that action, but their explanations fail to convince any objective observer. Even former Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority chief executive Richard Ings has taken to social media to point out that Swimming Australia's initial statement "was an untruth".

By lying to the public regarding the Jack case, Swimming Australia has lost every ounce of credibility in its defense of Mack Horton's podium stunt, when he refused to shake hands with Sun or stand beside the Chinese champion.

"Athletes in these situations have a right to a process," said Swimming Australia chief Leigh Russell, with Richard Colbeck, the country's federal sports minister, echoing that sentiment in calling for due process to be allowed run its course in the Jack case.

Russell and Colbeck could not be more correct in their statements. It is the sole responsibility of international governing bodies to adjudicate cases involving potential use of banned substances.

So why, when Horton made his attention-grabbing move at the podium with Sun, did Swimming Australia rush to his defense in the name of protecting clean sport? Does Sun not have the same right to due process as Shanya Jack?

Of course he does.

Apparently, Swimming Australia is not interested in due process, nor is it interested in protecting clean sport. If it was, the organization would have issued a statement after Horton's move calling on its athletes to respect fellow competitors and respect due process in all ongoing doping cases.

It also would have immediately made Jack's failed test known and promised to do its part to protect clean sport going forward. No such statements were made because this has never been Swimming Australia's intention.

FINA, which governs global swimming, has already issued its ruling on an incident involving Sun's 2018 out-of-competition drug test, clearing him of all wrongdoing. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has appealed that decision, and is perfectly within its rights to do so. FINA also ruled that Sun can continue to compete while WADA's appeal is adjudicated by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Due process is running its course, and third parties like Swimming Australia and Sun's fellow competitors should show respect and restraint.

Horton's own hypocrisy has also been made plain as this case unfolds. An ABC News Australia reporter on Saturday approached Horton outside the team bus in Gwangju, asking him if Jack's case had made him regret his actions toward Sun. Horton smirked and stood in silence before boarding the bus.

While he later issued a statement reiterating his commitment to clean sport, Horton did not address whether or not he regretted his actions toward Sun given the unfolding scandal in his own swimming association.

It is impossible to ignore the fact that the personal animus between Sun and Horton goes back to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Horton's selective outrage at the worlds was a clear indication that he is an opportunist aiming to score personal points while generating negative publicity for a powerful rival. He should stop pretending that protecting clean sport is his intention.

He is fooling nobody.

If Horton is concerned about Sun's ongoing case and believes it should preclude him from competition, he is perfectly entitled to his opinion and free to make it known. The mixed zone would have been the appropriate place to do so, in interviews and public statements. The podium must always be a place where respect, decency, and kindness to one's competitors prevails.

An old saying holds that "sunlight is the best disinfectant". Swimming Australia, with the aid of a few Australian government officials and some Australian media outlets, has actually done the public a favor by letting the sunlight illuminate its real intention: protecting the image of its own swimmer while sullying that of a decorated Olympian from a competing country.

Sun Yang has shown remarkable and commendable professionalism and restraint given the immense and unfair burden that has been placed on his shoulders by some of his fellow athletes.

International sports competitions should be events where political and cultural differences are set aside as the world's best athletes compete on a level playing field in a spirit of friendliness.

Clean competition is a bottom-line requirement for this spirit to prevail, and it must apply equally to all countries and athletes - without exception.

The Shanya Jack case should teach an important lesson to Swimming Australia, to Mack Horton and to some of the western media outlets that were so quick to point fingers at Sun.

The expectation of clean sport should never be used as a bludgeon to selectively kneecap one athlete while giving a pass to others.

Fairness, objectivity and respect for due process must always be maintained and applied equally to everyone.

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2019-07-31 07:31:36
<![CDATA[Bai's balancing act tipping towards tour promotion]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/30/content_37496710.htm Just a few months ago, Bai Zhengkai made the difficult decision to forego his senior golf season at the University of Central Florida to turn pro.

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Chasing wins in China while going to school in Florida a daunting task

Just a few months ago, Bai Zhengkai made the difficult decision to forego his senior golf season at the University of Central Florida to turn pro.

After missing the cut at the European Tour's Volvo China Open in Shenzhen in May, his decision proved a good one.

Bai currently sits 12th on the PGA Tour Series-China order of merit and has one title under his belt - last month's Huangshan Championship in Anhui province.

Despite feeling his game is strong enough to play at an elite level, Bai will return to school in the fall, when he plans to balance his studies with playing the final four events of the season in a bid to seal a place on the 2020 Korn Ferry Tour.

Last year, Bai's compatriot Yuan Yechun finished 25th on the order of merit before battling his way through qualifying to earn a card for the Korn Ferry Tour, where he is currently playing a full season.

Now Bai is looking to emulate his good friend and join Yuan in the US.

"I'm planning to go back to school but I think I can balance the schoolwork and leave to play professional tournaments," said Bai.

"Even if I get onto the Korn Ferry Tour, I will still keep up with my studies and probably take some online courses.

"Also Yuan is a very good friend of mine and we have both been coached by Sean Foley so it would be great to play together next year."

Now Bai is aiming for a top-10 finish on the order of merit, which would book him a spot in the final stage of the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament.

Just making it to that stage would guarantee him Korn Ferry membership next year, but a top-45 finish would guarantee him starts.

Bai said he's ready to make the step up.

"I think my game is really good at the moment. I didn't have too much expectation before I came to China this summer but I knew my game was good enough to do well here," he said.

"I think my game is ready for the Korn Ferry Tour.

"I've come very close to getting into some events, and I missed the Monday qualifier by one or two shots so I hope I can play there next year. I feel ready."

 

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2019-07-30 07:43:26
<![CDATA[Lane locks it down at Dongguan Open]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/30/content_37496709.htm American Joey Lane earned his first professional victory after being declared the 36-hole champion at the Dongguan Open on Sunday.

Officials had originally reduced the event to 54 holes, but after another extended weather delay they determined the tournament would be limited to 36.

Roughly half the field was forced to complete second rounds on Sunday, but Lane didn't have to play a single hole after taking the clubhouse lead at 10-under a day earlier.

Japan's Yuwa Kosaihira was just three shots back with six holes to play, but he failed to close the gap on Lane after finishing with six straight pars to secure solo second.

Japan's Masamichi Uehira carded a 67 to share third with Canada's Richard Jung (68), one shot ahead of American Charlie Netzel (65) and France's Cyril Bouniol (67).

It was a well-deserved victory for Lane, who carded an opening 8-under 62 on the Norman Course at Mission Hills Golf Club to grab a four-shot lead after the first completed round. He notched a 68 in the second round to move to 10-under.

"It's a hard golf course, and there were some tough pins so from tee to green it was awesome, probably one of the best rounds I've ever played," Lane said of his 62.

"Inside of 10 feet, I made almost everything so it was just a great round and one that only happens every once in a while."

Lane is playing his first season in China after being talked into competing by good friend and fellow PGA Tour Series-China player David Kocher, who remains third on the order of merit after a T7 finish this week. With the victory, Lane jumped 22 spots into eighth place.

Although quiet in the first half of the season, Lane last month followed up a tie for 18th in Suzhou with a tie for seventh in Huangshan before coming away with his breakthrough win.

"It's an awesome feeling. This is actually my first professional win on any tour, and this is the best tour I've played on so it's an awesome week," said Lane, who is looking to play on the 2020 Korn Ferry Tour.

"Finishing in the top 10 has always been one of my main goals for this year. I also have my eyes on a top-five in the order of merit. With four more events, hopefully I can play well and keep moving up."

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2019-07-30 07:43:26
<![CDATA[CBA Draft finally coming of age]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/30/content_37496708.htm From its embarrassing debut in 2015 to Monday's highly anticipated talent trawl, the Chinese Basketball Association Draft has evolved into a springboard for sending more young hoopsters to the nation's professional ranks.

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Record number of collegiate players picked in Shanghai

From its embarrassing debut in 2015 to Monday's highly anticipated talent trawl, the Chinese Basketball Association Draft has evolved into a springboard for sending more young hoopsters to the nation's professional ranks.

Initially ignored by most teams for having little value in terms of attracting talent, over the past few years the CBA Draft has become a high-profile stage for young players to demonstrate their commitment to the pro challenge.

The league's effort to upgrade the draft system is paying dividends, highlighted by the record number of 16 players - including six from the CUBA - selected by 10 teams at its fifth edition in Shanghai on Monday.

That's in sharp contrast to its 2015 debut when just a single player was picked - by the Chongqing Fly Dragons (now Beijing Royal Fighters).

The intense spotlight on this year's No 1 overall pick Wang Shaojie, selected by the Stephon Marbury-coached Royal Fighters, was a far cry from the cold shoulder given to Fang Junlei, the lone selectee in 2015, who retired right after spending his entire rookie season on the bench.

The different receptions given Fang and Wang, both standouts in the Chinese University Basketball Association (CUBA), reflect the association's progress in building a campus-to-pro talent pipeline to mirror the NCAA's contribution to pro leagues in the United States.

Wang, who led Peking University to the collegiate title in June and was named MVP of the final, topped the list of 23 college players participating in this year's draft - an all-time high.

That raises hopes the collegiate system will play a bigger role in complementing the State-run system, which produced 25 draftees this year.

"The CBA Draft is on its way to opening the doors wider to all talented players, no matter where they come from," said Zhang Xiong, the league's president of basketball operations.

"Our league is committed to offering opportunities to every player who has a professional dream, and the draft helps facilitate that."

As part of the reform initiated by CBA chairman Yao Ming in 2017, this year's draft featured a pre-selection training camp patterned after the NBA's Draft Combine.

Six days of physical tests, one-on-one battles, team drills and scrimmages in front of general managers and coaches helped them measure the depth of the talent pool.

"It helps expose each of the draftees' physical and technical strengths and weaknesses in an obvious way, which makes it easier for teams to identify and measure the players they like," Cui Wanjun, head coach of Nanjing Monkey Kings, told China Daily during the camp.

"The challenge for players to prevail in each of the tests has become tougher while the competition levels up. The camp offers a valuable measurement of their survival chances in the pro league."

To make a potential CBA career more appealing to college grads, the reform has extended rookie contracts from one to two years, at an increased annual salary of 500,000 yuan ($72,690).

Another highlight of the reform was inviting six grassroots players coming off neither collegiate nor pro backgrounds to attend the training camp. Although none were selected, the effort to widen the path to the pros is seen as a positive.

"Knowing I had little chance of being drafted, I still gave it a try because going pro is any baller's dream, no matter where you came from," said Zhou Rui, a 31-year-old who has earned a reputation as one of China's best streetball players.

Over the weekend, this year's draftees lost all three exhibition games against CBA Summer League teams featuring players developed by CBA clubs' own youth systems.

"It will take time for the draftees to sharpen their game to the level needed in the league, but the overall talent coming through the draft has improved a lot," said Cui, who led the Xinjiang Flying Tigers to the league finals in 2014.

The improved competitiveness of collegiate talent was showcased during CBA All-Star Weekend in January, when a CUBA select squad led by Wang defeated a youth team comprised of CBA reserves 90-88 in the Rising Star Challenge.

Jiang Yuxing, selected by Jilin Northeast Tigers as the top draft pick in 2018, won Rookie of the Year honors last season after averaging 8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2 assists in 47 games.

"Sooner or later, I believe players coming through the draft system will supply most of the talent in the league," said Jiang, a 24-year-old point guard drafted from the country's second-tier National Basketball League.

 

Fifteen of the 16 players selected in Monday's Chinese Basketball Association Draft in Shanghai pose with NBA star Jeremy Lin (front row, white shirt) and CBA chairman Yao Ming (rear). Provided to China Daily

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2019-07-30 07:43:26
<![CDATA[Top pick Wang says he's prepared to wait his turn]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/30/content_37496707.htm As the top overall pick in Monday's CBA Draft, college hoops star Wang Shaojie has realistic ambitions for his rookie season as a professional.

Unlike in the NBA, where first-round draft picks are under enormous pressure to shine right away, China's top pro circuit should be easier to navigate for Wang, who was named MVP of the Chinese University Basketball Association (CUBA) final this year.

"To start off the bench or even stay there for the majority of my rookie year is something that I expect and something I've prepared for," Wang said after being selected by the Beijing Royal Fighters on Monday.

With a grand ceremony patterned after the NBA and presided over by CBA chairman Yao Ming, the draft was staged at a theater and was attended by several celebrities, including free agent Jeremy Lin, late of the NBA champion Toronto Raptors.

Wang, a versatile 6-foot-9 forward with impressive mobility and shooting touch, was compared to six-time NBA All-Star Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers throughout his collegiate career at Peking University.

"The intensity of the competition and physical confrontation in the CBA is a whole different level than in college ball," said the 23-year-old Wang, who last month led PKU to the CUBA national title over Tsinghua University, contributing 22 points and 16 rebounds in the final.

"I am fully aware of that, so I am ready to work on every aspect of my game and physical conditioning as hard as I can to earn my minutes on the court."

Royal Fighters head coach Stephon Marbury, a former NBA All-Star, said earlier this month the capital's rebuilding franchise needs a young pillar like Wang. Even before his official appointment as coach, Marbury watched the CUBA final and met with Wang.

Including Wang, six CUBA-developed players were drafted on Monday, marking an all-time high since the draft was launched in 2015. CBA teams formerly relied heavily on their own youth programs and local sports schools within the State-run system to draw new blood.

Yao, who was voted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016 and took over as boss of the CBA in early 2017, said the league will continue working with the Federation of University Sports of China to make the draft a smoother pathway to the pro ranks.

"Being drafted only draws a comma in your career," Yao said in his opening speech. "How high you reach in your future career won't be determined by the number you were drafted today.

"Hopefully, we will see more players with a CUBA background make their presence felt in the league in the near future."

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2019-07-30 07:43:26
<![CDATA[NBA and Tencent expand digital partnership]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/30/content_37496706.htm

The National Basketball Association and Tencent Holdings Limited, the league's exclusive official digital partner in China, on Monday announced a five-year expansion of their existing partnership that will see Tencent provide extensive NBA coverage on its platforms through the 2024-25 season.

Tencent, the NBA's digital media partner in China since 2009, has streamed full seasons of live games and content to its hundreds of millions of daily users under the current partnership, which began in 2015.

NBA-themed mobile games, social media accounts and interactive fan events are also included in the package.

Last season, 490 million Chinese fans watched NBA programming on Tencent platforms, nearly tripling the number for the 2014-15 season. Tencent's coverage of Game 6 of this spring's NBA Finals drew 21 million viewers, marking the most-watched NBA game ever on a digital platform in China.

Under the expanded partnership, live games, video on-demand (VOD) and short video content will be available through Tencent's digital and social media platforms, including QQ.com, Tencent Sports, Tencent News, Tencent Video, QQ, WeChat and Weishi.

Tencent will also collaborate with the NBA to develop innovative advertising products, and launch and operate "mini programs" for mobile devices, including NBA Qiu Mi Quan (QMQ), the league's fan loyalty program in China.

In addition, Tencent will leverage its consumer insights to help the NBA expand its domestic fanbase and provide the league's global fanbase with new, customized interactive services.

"Tencent's commitment to NBA basketball in China is unparalleled," said NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

"The enormous reach and popularity of Tencent's platforms have been a driving force behind the growth of basketball in China, and we look forward to deepening our connection with fans across the country through this expanded partnership."

Tencent president Martin Lau echoed that sentiment, adding: "We believe the enhanced partnership between the NBA and Tencent will take our phenomenal success to new heights. Empowered by our technology capabilities, interactive platforms and content expertise, we will work closely with the NBA to further engage fans in China with sports excitement and technology innovations."

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2019-07-30 07:43:26
<![CDATA[Qinghai race shows it's now the wheel deal]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/30/content_37496705.htm YINCHUAN - On the weekend that Egan Bernal became Colombia's first Tour de France winner, the South American country enjoyed another two-wheeled triumph in scenic northwest China.

After 14 days and 1,841 km of grueling pedaling action that spanned three provinces, Colombian rider Robinson Chalapud of the Medellin team won the 18th Tour of Qinghai Lake on Saturday in the city of Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui autonomous region.

Spain's Oscar Sevilla, also of Colombian outfit Medellin, was 1 minute, 44 seconds back in second, with Australian Benjamin Dyball third.

Liu Jiankun was the best-placed Chinese rider in 25th.

The tour, which this year attracted 22 teams, has steadily grown in stature through the years, with the route's stunning scenery and challenging terrain proving a major draw for cyclists.

The race faced many challenges in its infancy. In its inaugural year in 2002, officials lacked basic electronic timing equipment, while in 2003 fears over the SARS virus scared away many teams.

However, a year later, Qinghai local government was rewarded for its hard work when the tour was elevated to 2.3 status by international cycling's governing body, the UCI.

In 2007, the entry system changed from invitation-based to open application. In 2013, the route expanded outside of Qinghai province, and for the first time the tour crossed three provinces and regions: Qinghai, Gansu and Ningxia.

Today the tour is among the biggest events on the UCI's calendar, rivaling the three Grand Tours - the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana - in terms of scale.

"Tours in Europe usually take eight days, but the Tour of Qinghai Lake takes 14 days. That makes it extra challenging, but exactly why riders want to finish the tour to prove themselves," said Tom Van Damme, president of the UCI's road commission and professional cycling council.

"The Tour of Qinghai Lake definitely plays an important role in Asian UCI tours.

"In past years, we have had winners from many different countries, showing that the Tour of Qinghai Lake is truly an international race."

The tour is also an important event in terms of promoting local tourism.

The route centers around Qinghai Lake, and extends to many regions including agricultural areas in Eastern Qinghai, pastoral and desert terrain in Western Qinghai, grasslands in the Southern Qinghai Plateau, Hexi Corridor in Gansu province and the Gold River Bank in Ningxia Hui autonomous region.

For tourists, it's a route that combines incredible scenery, rich local culture and fascinating ethnic diversity.

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2019-07-30 07:43:26
<![CDATA[Old stager Gatlin gunning for glorious final chapter]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/29/content_37496217.htm Sometimes after a particularly grueling workout, sprinter Justin Gatlin will turn to his younger training partners and inquire: "Are you sore, too?"

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Veteran American proud to still be a contender as Olympic swansong looms

Sometimes after a particularly grueling workout, sprinter Justin Gatlin will turn to his younger training partners and inquire: "Are you sore, too?"

It's just an age check. He doesn't feel 37 except on rare occasions. Like at big races when he sees so much youth on the starting line and not the familiar faces from years gone by.

Missing, of course, is his biggest rival, Usain Bolt, the Jamaican standout who rewrote the record books before saying goodbye to track nearly two years ago.

Arriving on the scene, a slew of 20-somethings such as Americans Christian Coleman and Noah Lyles who present another challenge for Gatlin, the defending 100-meter world champion.

 

"I don't think about age. I don't think about being old," said Gatlin. "I just feel like a time traveler in a way. I'm still here, still running, still putting down good times, still training really well. Just staying focused on what the goal is."

And that goal is to show the kids he's still young at heart. At a Diamond League race in Monaco on July 12, Gatlin won the 100 in 9.91 seconds, holding off Lyles by 0.01 seconds.

"These young athletes, they make me feel young," said Gatlin, who doesn't even consider the Tokyo Olympics next summer his finish line as he contemplates racing through the 2021 world championships in Eugene, Oregon. "They're running super-fast times that I ran before so it gives me a target. It gives me a sounding board to know where I have to be and how I'm going to have to compete."

Throughout his career, Gatlin has been a polarizing figure. With his doping past - his four-year suspension ended in 2010 - Gatlin's been booed (like the night he beat Bolt for gold at the 2017 worlds in London) and hounded (he gestured toward a heckler bothering his mom in the stands during the medal ceremony at the 2015 worlds in Beijing). He's never let it bother him.

Instead, he lets his performances do most of his talking.

"I'm an enigma," Gatlin said. "I've had my dark times and I've gone through an area where normally someone who's been away from the sport or had a ban would never come back from. I defied those odds to a point where I think that it made people uncomfortable because not only did I come back, but I came back better."

He said the younger generation doesn't judge him. An up-and-coming sprinter once joked with Gatlin that he happened to be in first grade when Gatlin won the 100-meter title at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

"Those kinds of things always shock me, how time really works. But it still doesn't make me feel old," said Gatlin, whose best 100m time is 9.74 seconds in Doha on May 15,2015.

"I've gained so many more followers just off of the respect of me working hard, me climbing, keep fighting for it no matter my age, no matter how many times I lost to Usain. It was all about staying the course, which was my course, and not veering from and trying to be something that everyone wanted me to be. I just wanted to be Justin."

Gatlin caused a major surprise by beating Bolt in the Jamaican world-record holder's final major 100m race. Gatlin also edged Coleman, who came in second that night with Bolt taking third.

Not having Bolt at the world championships this fall in Doha remains hard to fathom for Gatlin. They've had so many epic races over the years, like at the 2015 worlds when Bolt eclipsed Gatlin at the line.

But this thought keeps Gatlin working: The next Bolt is out there. It could be Lyles. Or Coleman. It could be Andre De Grasse of Canada or Matthew Boling, the teen from Texas who is headed to Georgia for college and who became a viral sensation this spring when he ran a wind-aided 9.98 in the 100 (Bolt's world record is 9.58).

It could be anyone.

"Track and field is a beautiful, beautiful novel with many, many unique chapters," Gatlin said. "I'm excited about what's going to come after and how it's going to be unique and maybe bigger and better than a Usain Bolt."

At the US nationals over the weekend at Des Moines, Iowa, Gatlin withdrew from the 100 final, which was won Coleman in a time of 9.99.

Earlier, Gatlin, who has a bye to September's world championships in Doha, finished third in his semifinal in 10.16 to Coleman's 9.96. Gatlin is skipping the 200 as he tries to get his hips and hamstrings feeling 100 percent.

To keep his legs fresh at 37, Gatlin has learned to take rest days. To keep his mind fresh at 37, he works out with younger training partners who bring new energy and ideas.

"That," Gatlin said, "is really what keeps me young."

 

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2019-07-29 08:25:24
<![CDATA[Leonard and George want to make history for Clippers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/29/content_37496216.htm LOS ANGELES - Kawhi Leonard and Paul George laughed and cheered along with the crowd when the multibillionaire owner of the Los Angeles Clippers waved his arms, stomped his feet and screamed his new players' praises in a cracking voice.

"Pretty cool! Pretty cool!" Steve Ballmer shouted with glee.

Leonard and George are already loving the Clippers' unique vibe, and they see their future together as limitless.

Nearly three weeks after these native Southern California superstars shook up the NBA by maneuvering to play together in LA, the Clippers' new dynamic duo finally made its first public appearance on Wednesday in a south Los Angeles community center gym.

"I think we've got something special," said Leonard, the two-time NBA Finals MVP coming off a championship season in Toronto. "We can make history here. We've got the right team to do it."

In explaining their decision to team up with the Clippers, Leonard and George both mentioned the importance of playing near their friends and family. Both were eager to join a team they grew up watching intently from their hometowns in the far-flung LA suburbs during the Clippers' leaner years.

But Leonard and George seemed to be most impressed by this steady, cerebral franchise's supporting cast and leadership - everyone from complementary players Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams to front-office architect Jerry West and coach Doc Rivers.

West and Ballmer structured their entire franchise specifically to attract elite talent this summer, and Leonard sees the Clippers as fertile ground to grow another champion quickly.

"It's an opportunity for us to just build our own, you know what I mean?" Leonard said. "To make history. They haven't been to a Finals. They haven't won a Finals. That was something big and exciting for me."

While Leonard joined the Clippers as a free agent, George got here through a trade with Oklahoma City. The All-NBA first-teamer described his departure from the Thunder as "a mutual thing between the both of us that the time was up" in Oklahoma City.

"I want to be a part of something special," George said. "I want to help build something special, and this is surreal to be home and do it for a team that I grew up with, and wanted to be a part of ever since they missed out on me in the draft. But that's another story. That wasn't on Steve's time, so it's cool."

Both Leonard and George mentioned the fact that they nearly played together with the Indiana Pacers, who drafted George in 2010 and Leonard in 2011 - only to trade Kawhi to San Antonio on draft night.

"I wish we would have stayed together," George said. "It just seems like this was destiny. We were supposed to play together, so here we are."

The Clippers' long-standing reputation as a miserable franchise has receded annually during their current run of eight consecutive winning seasons. The Donald Sterling era's flaws have been wholly erased since Ballmer bought the team seven years ago and trusted Rivers and West to run it.

For all of their recent success with the likes of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Tobias Harris, the Clippers still haven't reached a Western Conference final or stolen much of the local spotlight from the 16-time champion Lakers.

But this summer, their patient planning allowed them to acquire two men who appear capable of leading them into the NBA's elite.

"It means a great deal for players of this magnitude to decide to be Clippers, and to put their trust in us," Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said. "As much as we loved our team last year, we knew we needed elite talent to compete at the highest level. One of the hardest things to do in the NBA is to get one superstar, let alone two superstars who respect and complement each other like Kawhi and Paul do."

The Clippers did it by impressing Leonard in their free-agency pitch meeting. Frank said the Clippers offer the chance to play at home in LA in a "drama-free" environment, essentially contrasting them with the turmoil that envelops the wildly popular Lakers.

Both Leonard and George were heavily linked with the Lakers in recent years, but Leonard spurned the Lakers' earnest attempts to team him with LeBron James and Anthony Davis next season. While Leonard didn't criticize the Lakers, he praised the Clippers' front office for being "very transparent with me".

Leonard and George both know Los Angeles well enough to know the Clippers won't come close to matching the Lakers' formidable fanbase until they've got a few banners of their own at Staples Center - and the superstars say they don't care.

"As far as the last few years, as far as a basketball standpoint, the Clippers have been better," Leonard said to cheers.

"They're going to get the attention," Leonard said. "They're the Los Angeles Lakers. They've been winning championships for a long time. Even if we do win, who knows how the Clippers will change? I don't feel like I'm focused on that. I just want to win. I do things that make myself and my teammates happy. That's going to be my focus and drive. If we go to the championship and win and we're not getting no coverage, that's fine with me."

George was more succinct about his thoughts on the Clippers' place in Los Angeles in the years ahead.

"We're going to make it happen," he said. "LA our way."

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2019-07-29 08:25:24
<![CDATA[Bale nearing CSL switch]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/29/content_37496215.htm Gareth Bale is closing on a blockbuster move to Jiangsu Suning in what would be the biggest transfer in Chinese Super League history.

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Welsh superstar reportedly close to sealing mega-money Jiangsu Suning deal

Gareth Bale is closing on a blockbuster move to Jiangsu Suning in what would be the biggest transfer in Chinese Super League history.

Reports in Britain suggest Bale's representatives are putting the finishing touches to a three-year deal with the Nanjing-based club that could net the Welsh superstar an astonishing 1 million pounds ($1.24 million) per week.

Time is of the essence, however, with the Chinese transfer window shutting on Wednesday.

Both financially and in terms of star power, the deal would eclipse the CSL's biggest-name imports to date: Shanghai Shenhua's capture of Argentine Carlos Tevez, who reportedly earned wages of around $800,000 per week, and the signings of Brazilians Oscar and Hulk, who arrived at Shanghai SIPG for fees of $73 million and $60 million respectively.

Speculation about the possible Bale fee varies wildly, with some reports suggesting Madrid might even allow the attacking midfielder to leave for free as it bids to rid itself of the Welshman's $800,000 weekly wage bill.

Other reports suggest a price of between $50 and $60 million could be agreed, although Suning would have to pay double that because of the CSL's 100 per cent foreign-player transfer tax. All proceeds from this tax go towards developing youth soccer in China.

Former SIPG technical director Mads Davidsen said of Bale's possible arrival: "I was at SIPG when we bought Hulk from Zenit St Petersburg and then later Oscar from Chelsea.

"We were among the biggest transfers ever in Chinese history but now it seems Bale would be. Not only in branding and reputation-wise, but also his level. He would be a massive attraction for football in China."

Whether or not a deal can be completed on time, Bale's days at Real look numbered.

The 30-year-old has had six trophy-laden years - including four Champions League titles - since signing from Tottenham for a then world-record $106 million in September 2013. However, he has struggled to endear himself to Madrid's notoriously demanding fans, while rumors that he has failed to integrate socially at the club have abounded in recent seasons.

Bale was never a favorite of Zinedine Zidane during the Frenchman's first stint at the Bernabeu as coach. Things haven't changed since Zidane's return to replace the fired Santiago Solari in March, with Bale rarely named in Real's starting XI.

Throughout Madrid's preseason campaign, Zidane has admitted that Bale is nearing an exit, with the relationship between the two seemingly beyond repair.

"We hope he leaves soon. It would be best for everyone," Zidane said after omitting Bale from his squad for a preseason match against Bayern Munich in Houston earlier this month. "We are working on his transfer to a new team."

Bale has had some minutes on the pitch for Real since, however. He scored and missed a penalty in a shootout defeat to Arsenal and on Friday appeared off the bench during the 7-3 hammering to Atletico Madrid in New Jersey on Friday.

If Bale does depart for Suning, it will likely have a significant knock-on effect in the transfer market, with Madrid possibly using funds generated from Bale's sale to launch a bid for Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba.

 

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale on the ball during his team's 7-3 International Champions Cup defeat to Atletico Madrid in East Rutherford, New. Jersey on Friday. The Wales international is widely expected to leave Real for Jiangsu Suning in the coming days. AP

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2019-07-29 08:25:24
<![CDATA[Shanghai Masters' ticket treat for fans]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/29/content_37496214.htm As the only ATP Masters 1000 event in Asia, tickets for the Rolex Shanghai Masters are always in high demand.

With superstars like Roger Federer gracing the main court at the Qi Zhong Tennis Center, the final three days of the tournament usually sell out at least a month in advance.

In order to make this year's tournament (Oct 5-13) more accessible, a wider variety of ticket types will now be on offer.

In addition to the regular full-day ticket, new day and night tickets for matches played between Oct 7-11 will also go on sale.

"For a high-level event like the Shanghai Masters, the daytime matches and nighttime matches featuring the top international players are equally exciting," said Patrick Yang, deputy general manager of the event's promoter, Shanghai Juss Sports Development (Group) Co Ltd.

"The full-day ticket had been the only option for the fans. So many office workers who had to work during the day could only come to the tennis center at night. For those who are available during the day, they might not have been able get tickets. So that's a waste.

"As a top international tennis event, we have been working to better serve the fans and explore a wider market. We always want more fans to come to watch the matches and to feel the atmosphere. By offering the day and night tickets, we are spreading resources better."

The ATP has welcomed the new ticket options.

"While the Chinese tennis population is growing dramatically, the Shanghai Masters delivers a superb experience for fans. The new day and night tickets will allow more people to enjoy the tennis. For sure, it's good news," said Alison Lee, the executive vice-president of the tour's International Group.

The tickets are also on sale at affordable prices. For example, an Oct 7 day ticket costs only 160 yuan ($23) - a third of the price of an original full-day ticket. Family tickets are also available this year, with a the cheapest admission for a kid costing only 50 yuan.

The Shanghai Masters is the eighth of nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments on the calendar and is the only one not played in Europe or North America.

Qi Zhong Tennis Center boasts a 15,000-seat main stadium featuring a retractable roof of eight steel panels representing Shanghai's city flower, the magnolia.

Tickets are on sale now at the following websites: jusstickets.com, masters.tmall.com and www.meclub.org.

 

Left: The Rolex Shanghai Masters is played in Qi Zhong Tennis Center’s impressive main stadium. Right: Fans of Swiss superstar Roger Federer get in the party mood during last year’s tournament, which was won by Novak Djokovic. Provided to China Daily

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2019-07-29 08:25:24
<![CDATA[Turning from 'black gold' to green profits]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/28/content_37496012.htm Made prosperous by the "black gold" of its coal industry, Shanxi is now on the fast track to transforming itself into a tech-driven innovation province for high-end manufacturing, green energy and premium chemical products.

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Shanxi has prospered from its coal mining industry, but now it's redefining itself as a high-end manufacturing hub

Editor's Note: As the People's Republic of China prepares to celebrate its 70th anniversary on Oct 1, China Daily is featuring a series of stories on the role regions have played in the country's development and where they are today.

Made prosperous by the "black gold" of its coal industry, Shanxi is now on the fast track to transforming itself into a tech-driven innovation province for high-end manufacturing, green energy and premium chemical products.

In the busy factory of Jinmei Huayu Coal Chemical in Jincheng, 2.2 million metric tons of high-sulfur coal are turned into 1.2 million tons of methane, 500,000 tons of clean energy and multiple chemical products every year by the 300 employees.

Shi Wenfeng, the plant's chief dispatcher, said the factory began operations in August last year and by February had earned 660 million yuan ($95.9 million) in revenue.

"The exciting thing is that the project is earning profits already," Shi said.

In Changzhi city, a new production plant owned by the leading coal company Lu'an Mining Group has been running at full capacity since September.

According to the company's profile, in the first phase of the "180 Project" plant alone, 12,000 tons of coal a day was turned into value-added chemical products.

The 180 Project was designed to produce 1.8 million tons of oil products from high-sulfur coal every year. Currently it can produce about 1 million tons a year.

One of the products it makes is synthetic oil that can be used to make high-quality synthetic lubricants. Only foreign companies were able to produce such lubricants in the past, said Liu Junyi, general manager of Lu'an Mining Group, adding that many Chinese companies are making forays into producing coal-based chemicals.

The retail price per ton of the oil they produce to make the synthetic lubricant is 50 times that of the raw material, high-sulfur coal. Lu'an Mining Group estimates 40 billion tons of coal underground can be turned into the value-added, environmentally friendly commodity.

The company said the oil product initially produced at the plant was limited in scope and used mainly in base products.

But new production lines have been added and the company is now able to make 54 kinds of high-end chemical products.

Coal is not only a source for specialized oil products, but also a more economical way to produce hydrogen through a process called gasification.

Feng Zhiwu, chairman at Yangmei Chemical, a Shanxi-based company, said that hydrogen made from coal has been one of their most profitable products, compared with traditional ones such as ammonia and urea.

"There are a number of ways to produce hydrogen, such as from oil, water and coal, but the cheapest is from coal," Feng said.

"For every cubic meter of hydrogen made from oil, the cost is about 1.6 yuan to 1.7 yuan, but even when the price of coal goes up, the cost can be as low as 0.9 yuan."

Feng said the company makes a profit of 0.3 yuan on every cu m of hydrogen sold.

These success stories are indicative of Shanxi turning its traditional coal businesses into cleaner, greener and more profitable industries.

According to the Shanxi government work report this year, overcapacity of coal production was cut by 30.9 million tons last year. Over the past three years, the province has reduced overcapacity by a total of 88.4 million tons.

While coal production has fallen, optimization of the coal industry has risen, with more than 20 coal-based industrial parks established in Shanxi in recent years.

"Clean and renewable energy plays a leading role in meeting China's growing demand for energy," said Han Wenke, director of the Energy Research Institute at the National Development and Reform Commission.

"Green production and efficient use of coal will facilitate the country's industrial upgrade for overall green economic growth."

Han said China will see a drastic decline in coal consumption after 2020. Coal is expected to make up less than 50 percent of total energy consumption in 2030, and 30 percent in 2050.

Han Dong'e, a researcher at the Shanxi Academy of Social Sciences, said in recent years the province had been reducing its dependency on coal.

"Shanxi is the energy base of China with the country's second largest coal production capacity, which has powered national economic growth, but also brought the structural problem of being over dependent on coal," Han said.

"Shanxi has been very clear with its goal to lower its annual production of coal to 1 billion tons by 2020."

Han said under the targets, the main objective will be to increase the supply of high-quality coal.

While optimizing its traditional coal sector, Shanxi is also vowing to turn itself into a high-end manufacturing base.

According to the provincial statistics bureau, last year Shanxi's GDP hit 1.68 trillion yuan, up 6.7 percent year-on-year. Among the industries with yearly revenue over 20 million yuan, the coal industry saw only a 0.3 percent growth while the manufacturing sector went up 9.2 percent.

Overall, the manufacturing sector contributed 76.4 percent of Shanxi's industrial growth.

Early this year, the provincial department of industry and information technology said Shanxi will accelerate the development of industries, including railway transportation, new energy vehicles, biopharmaceuticals and modern coal industries.

According to the department's 2019 action plan, the province will build an industrial park and clusters for emerging industries. This includes turning Taiyuan and Datong into transportation equipment manufacturing hubs, and Taiyuan, Datong, Changzhi and Yuncheng into automobile manufacturing bases.

Contact the writers at renxiaojie@chinadaily.com.cn

Aerial view of a solar power farm in Datong, Shanxi province. The province leads the country in solar power generation. Provided to China Daily

 

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2019-07-28 14:44:31
<![CDATA[Steel company forges ahead with innovations]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/28/content_37496011.htm In the Shanxi factory of manufacturing giant Taiyuan Iron & Steel (Group), strips of thin, flexible stainless steel are being rolled up in preparation for shipment.

TISCO is the first Chinese producer of inox, a steel alloy containing a minimum of 10.5 percent chromium, which is different from heavier and thicker steel products.

The inox strips are only 0.02 millimeters thick and 600 mm wide. Inox, also called "hand-tear steel", can be applied in a wide range of areas such as aviation, new energy and foldable screens.

Wang Tianxiang, general manager of Shanxi Taigang Stainless Steel Precision Strip, a subsidiary of Taiyuan group, said earlier this year that in the past only a few countries, such as Germany and Japan, could produce steel sheets as thin.

During a recent visit to TISCO, Lu Yaohua, executive vice-chairman of the China Federation of Industrial Economics, said that after 85 years of development, TISCO has grown into a global leader in the stainless-steel industry. Lu said the company was effectively driving the overall sustainable development of China's steel industry, which is the "result of independent innovation".

Liao Xi, head of quality control at TISCO's advanced steel strip branch, said the strips were first put into use last year.

"Before they were created, our team had undertaken more than 700 experiments with numerous failures," Liao said.

"Now our products are only 0.02-millimeter thick, but the international standard is set between 0.05 and 0.5 millimeters. Our technologies are leading the world."

The steel strips are sold in grams, which is in stark contrast to other steel products that are usually sold by the metric ton. An inox strip the same size as an A4 sheet of paper can sell for up to 400 yuan ($58).

According to Liao, TISCO produced 24,000 tons of steel strips last year. But inox is not the only innovative product driving the company's profits. According to TISCO, high-end product sales last year accounted for 85 percent of total profits.

Last year, the company reported profit growth of 23 percent year-on-year to 5.29 billion yuan, amid market uncertainties caused by varying factors like iron ore prices. The company's profit in 2017 was 4.3 billion yuan, a 10-year high.

Company chairman Gao Xiangming, said TISCO has invented 18 advanced steel products. Twenty-six of its products have gained the largest market shares in China.

"We are ramping up efforts to make Taiyuan Iron & Steel a top-level manufacturer in advanced steel products worldwide," Gao said in earlier reports.

"We have been optimizing company structures, encouraging tech research and development in partnership with top institutes and research centers, and enhancing staff training systems. The outlook is bright."

Another manufacturing giant in Shanxi, Taiyuan Heavy Machinery Group, is also stepping up development of high-end product manufacturing to improve its global standing.

Last March, Taiyuan Heavy Machinery Group made 41,180 wheel units for railway trains. According to the group, they were produced in record time for the rail-transit manufacturing sector, with the achievement closely related to the company's developments in artificial intelligence.

"We are stepping up the development of technologies to make our company a first-class manufacturer worldwide. We hope to lead the country's manufacturing companies to climb up the global value chain," chairman Wang Chuangmin said.

The company has sold cranes, excavators, and other products for the transit-rail sector to more than 50 countries and regions. More than 50 percent of its products are exported.

Last year, Shanxi's manufacturing sector recorded total profits of 58.28 billion yuan, up 45.7 percent year-on-year, according to the province's statistics bureau.

Zhou Minliang, an economist specializing in regional economies at the Institute of Industrial Economics, said Shanxi's initiatives in high-end manufacturing were an effective way for the province to achieve high-quality development.

"In the past, Shanxi's economic development was heavily reliant on the coal industry, which would not help the province achieve sustainable development because coal is considered a non-renewable resource and the industry causes pollution," Zhou said.

"But Shanxi's rich energy resources give it an edge in developing manufacturing. The province is also launching a series of favorable policies to foster a good business environment. Meanwhile, China's demand for high-end manufacturing is huge," he added.

Zhou said the development of related industries and the establishment of an industrial chain are vital to Shanxi's advancement in manufacturing.

"That requires continuous efforts from local government. Going forward, more measures in building a mature industrial chain are expected," Zhou said.

Contact the writers at liuyukun@chinadaily.com.cn

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2019-07-28 14:44:31
<![CDATA[NBA e-sports eyes global gains]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/27/content_37495958.htm The NBA's e-sports league is making moves to slam-dunk the lucrative Chinese gaming market.

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New distribution deal boosts league's China ambitions

The NBA's e-sports league is making moves to slam-dunk the lucrative Chinese gaming market.

On Tuesday, the NBA 2K League announced tech giant Tencent as its first distribution partner in China.

The deal allows Tencent to stream games from the league's playoffs and Finals across its sports, video and news portals.

"This is another incredible step forward in the NBA 2K League continuing to grow as a global league," said the league's managing director, Brendan Donohue.

"Tencent is the ideal partner to distribute our games and bring the excitement of the NBA 2K League to fans in China. This partnership illustrates the popularity of e-sports and interest in the NBA 2K League among its hundreds of millions of daily users."

The league is based on hit video game NBA 2K. Its 2018 version, NBA 2K 18, has sold approximately ten million copies worldwide and is the best-selling edition in franchise history.

Each team features six players who compete as unique characters in 5-on-5 play in a mix of regular-season games, tournaments and playoffs.

The NBA 2K League has been expanding its fan base across the world since its inaugural season in 2018, generating over 293 million video views online. The league and its teams have more than two million combined followers on social media.

A total of 17 NBA teams participated in the inaugural season when Knicks Gaming defeated Heat Check Gaming 2-0 to be crowned champion. This season, 21 teams joined the show, with the playoffs tipping off on Wednesday and the Finals due to begin on Aug 3.

"The NBA 2K League is a world-famous professional e-sports league," said Tencent Sports general manager Ewell Zhao.

"Tencent Sports hopes the NBA 2K League will provide a new way to bring the charm of basketball and sports to more people."

The teams in the NBA 2K League are affiliated to actual NBA teams, with all the competitions taking place exclusively in North America to date.

However, with the league aiming to go global, establishing a Chinese franchise could be possible in the future, Donohue told China Daily during an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

"The e-sports market in China is exploding," said Donohue. "Also, there are millions of people who play basketball in the country. There's significant interest in the sport. So there's an ideal fanbase for our league in China. This is a new opportunity for us that looks really promising."

Meanwhile, the NBA 2K League has been working to disprove the geeky stereotypes associated with e-sports.

"We have taught our players the importance of health, fitness and balance," said Donohue.

"Our players wake up every morning to work out together, and their daily lives are very similar to their counterparts in the NBA.

"So, that healthy and balanced lifestyle is a key message of our teams."

 

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2019-07-27 06:53:26
<![CDATA[City CEO Soriano shrugs off China criticism]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/27/content_37495957.htm LONDON - Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano has denied the club is arrogant and said criticism of its preseason China tour will not affect its plans to expand in the world's most populous nation.

City was accused of failing to engage with Chinese fans and media during the tour, which featured a win over West Ham United in Nanjing and a penalty shootout defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers in Shanghai, as part of the Premier League Asia Trophy mini-tournament.

City manager Pep Guardiola claimed the allegations were false and described the tour as "an incredible experience".

Speaking to Xinhua via telephone from Hong Kong, where City thrashed local side Kitchee 6-1 on Wednesday, Soriano denied the club had been disrespectful.

"I don't think it is the case," he said. "We are not arrogant anywhere. You can see that our players were close to the fans, every media was treated the same way.

"Obviously, we will improve every time. Sometimes we make mistakes, sometimes we lose games, but our ambition is to be the best we can be. Manchester City wants to be the best in the world.

"Our promise is hard work and commitment. We obviously don't promise not to make mistakes from time to time, not to lose games from time to time. It is unrealistic.

"If you are a smaller club, you get less scrutiny. Because we are winning, we will be more scrutinized. We accept this as part of the game and part of the business. We would rather be in this position than the position of a smaller club that is not winning and has less scrutiny."

In February, City acquired a stake in Chengdu-based club Sichuan Jiuniu - evidence, Soriano says, that the club is more committed to developing soccer in China than some of its Premier League rivals.

"I don't want to say anything about West Ham or other teams ... they just came here to play games. This is not our case. Our commitment and investment in China is far, far more.

"We have a team in Chengdu. We have coaches in Chinese schools and we want to be part of China's football development. We want to play an active part and not just be a foreign team that comes to play and goes back.

"It is a long journey. We are here to stay. We have the aspiration and the commitment. We will be a positive force in the development of Chinese football. We have no doubt that in a decade, or even earlier, Chinese football will be much, much better."

City has had significant financial ties to China since 2015, when China Media Capital bought a 13 percent stake in the Emirati-owned club for $400 million.

Soriano claimed the club's trip to China has improved his relationship with City's Chinese partners and his understanding of the country in general.

"I have spent the whole of July in China. I moved my family here. Personally, I think it has been very good to spend a lot of time in China with my family, to be able to go to games and to do normal activities like other Chinese families over the weekend. I had the opportunity to speak to a lot of fans and our partners. I also have had the chance to learn more about Chinese football. Overall, the experience in China was very good.

"It's our obligation to understand China and the Chinese partners and fans. It is not their obligation to understand us. I think we understand them better and better."

City's tour got off to an ominously shaky start when an administrative error by a travel company forced it to delay its flight from England.

"It was unfortunate," Soriano said. "But in the end the trip was very successful. We don't remember the first 24 hours of inconvenience. We have been welcome everywhere, not only by the fans but everybody we've met.

"Both games in Nanjing and Shanghai were good, the fans were good, the atmosphere was good and the players were happy."

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2019-07-27 06:53:26
<![CDATA[Digest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/27/content_37495956.htm Winter Sports

Food for thought at nutrition forum

A forum on nutrition for winter sports athletes was held in Beijing on Thursday, attracting dozens of experts and representatives of sports bureaus across China.

Hosted by the National Winter Sports Administrative Center, the forum discussed scientific approaches to athlete nutrition, with the ultimate aim of improving dietary plans for Chinese competitors.

"The daily nutrition intake of winter sports athletes needs to be paid more scientific and careful attention," said Feng Meiyun, a technical expert of the General Administration of Sport of China. "Also, for athletes of different sports, the nutrition needs are different. That means that food technology is becoming increasingly important."

Food and beverage giant Master Kong also took part in the forum. The brand will work with the National Winter Sports Administrative Center to keep investing in and developing healthy food products for athletes.

First Olympic test event announced

The first test event for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics will be held in February 2020, Games organizers confirmed on Thursday.

The test will take place at the National Alpine Ski Center in the Yanqing district of Beijing, where the skiing, bobsleigh and luge events will be held.

The starting area of the ski center is situated at the summit of Xiaohaitou Mountain, 2,198 meters above sea level. Seven snow tracks will be built totaling 21 kilometers in length and featuring a vertical drop of over 900 meters.

The ski center, the first of its kind for Alpine sports in China, will host 11 events in total.

Golf

Resilient Li off to solid start at St Jude

China's No 1 Li Haotong dug deep to card a first-round 1-under 69 at the $10.25 million World Golf Championships-FedEx St Jude Invitational in Tennessee on Thursday.

The 23-year-old, who had six birdies, three bogeys and one double bogey, was seven shots off first-round leader Jon Rahm of Spain, who fired a 62 to match the lowest round of his PGA Tour career.

Bubba Watson, Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Cantlay, Cameron Smith and Shugo Imahira were tied for second on 65.

Li had started brilliantly at TPC Southwind, with three birdies before boarding the bogey train to drop five shots over five holes.

However, the world No 46 bounced back on his inward nine with birdies on the 11th and 14th holes before sticking a superb tee shot close to the pin on the par-3 17th for his sixth birdie of the round.

Swimming

New FINA rules forbid podium protests

International governing body FINA has revised its code of conduct in the wake of the controversial scenes during medal ceremonies that have overshadowed the ongoing world championships in Gwangju, South Korea. The new rules stipulate that "competitors shall actively participate in the full conduct of the competition including victory ceremonies and, if applicable, presentations and/or press conferences. They shall strictly avoid any offensive or improper behavior towards the officials, the other competitors, the team members and/or the spectators."

The rules were approved on Tuesday after Britain's Duncan Scott, a co-bronze medalist in the 200m freestyle, and Australia's Mack Horton, who won silver in the 400m freestyle, refused to share the podium with China's gold-medal winner Sun Yang.

Sun has been embroiled in controversy over a botched doping test, but in January was absolved by FINA of any wrongdoing.

Soccer

Chongqing snares Brazilian Marcinho

Brazilian winger Marcinho has signed with Chongqing Lifan, the Chinese Super League (CSL) club announced on Thursday.

"We hope that Marcinho can adapt to his new surroundings as soon as possible, devote himself to our club and deliver his best performances in future games," Lifan said in a statement.

Prior to his move, the 24-year-old had been on loan at Fortaleza from fellow Brazilian club Internacional. Last year, Marcinho helped Fortaleza gain promotion to Brazil's top flight - the Championship A Series.

Chongqing, managed by Dutchman Jordi Cryuff, currently sits fifth in the CSL, 21 points off leader Guangzhou Evergrande.

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2019-07-27 06:53:26
<![CDATA[HIGHLY SPRUNG]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/27/content_37495955.htm A mixture of fight and flight made for some spectacular images from the world of sports this week

 

 

Lin Sheng (left) of China and Lybov Shutova of Russia engage in combat during the women's team epee final at the World Fencing Championships in Budapest, Hungary, on July 21. China won the gold. AP

 

 

Fiorentina's Pietro Terracciano (right), Federico Ceccherini (No 5) and Arsenal's Alexandre Lacazette react to a shot during a match in Charlotte, North Carolina, on July 20. AP

 

 

China performs in the final of the artistic swimming team competition at the FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, on July 20. AP

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2019-07-27 06:53:26
<![CDATA[Jin primed to make a charge]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/25/content_37495374.htm Rookie pro is proving he can play with world's best

Coming off his best finish of the year at last week's Guangzhou Open, Jin Cheng is primed to make a charge at this week's PGA Tour Series-China Dongguan Open.

Although bad weather reduced the Guangzhou tournament to just 36 holes, China's former top amateur finished tied for third and is looking to keep the ball rolling at Mission Hills Dongguan - the world's largest golf resort.

Jin is having a solid rookie pro season. After winning mainland qualifying school by an impressive seven strokes to earn full playing status for 2019, he currently sits 26th on the money list through nine events - roughly 200,000 yuan behind compatriot Bai Zhengkai, who is in ninth place.

"Last week gave me a lot of confidence. I've been telling myself to stay confident and just try to keep the momentum going and see what happens. If I can get a similar result to last week, that would be great," said Jin.

"This is just my first year as a pro and I feel like my game has been improving. Finishing tied for third last week was a great sign and I hope I can do even better at the Dongguan Open."

The top 25 players on the order of merit at the end of this year will earn entry into the second stage of the Korn Ferry Tour qualifying tournament, while the top 10 earn entry into the final stage.

A top-45 finish in qualifying guarantees starts on next year's Korn Ferry Tour.

China's Yuan Yechun finished inside the top 25 on the 2018 Series order of merit to qualify for this year's Korn Ferry Tour and is currently ranked No 62 on the points list, within striking distance of earning a PGA Tour card.

Jin is hoping to give himself the same opportunity.

"I think it's been a great season so far. There are five tournaments left, so I'm going to give it my best to finish as high as possible on the order of merit," he said.

"I'm not going to try to force anything; I'll just keep working hard and stay patient and stay humble."

As a junior, Jin was one of China's top amateurs and became the youngest champion on the PGA Tour Series-China when he won the 2014 Nine Dragons Open as a 16-year-old. In 2015, he won the Asia-Pacific amateur championship to earn entry into the following year's Masters and British Open.

Commitment

Mission Hills Dongguan is one of China's leading golf venues and has hosted several top international tournaments. It started to work with PGA Tour Series-China in 2014, the year the tour was established, and is committed to the development of the sport in China.

Mission Hills Dongguan also has a history of offering programs to young players who aspire to achieve something greater on the international stage.

"Mission Hills has a youth development program and we give youngsters from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong a lot of opportunities to get better training and competition when they are very young," said Mission Hills Group vice-chairman Tenniel Chu.

"Starting from here they rise to bigger stages, like the PGA Tour Series-China. Competing in top-level tournaments like the PGA Tour Series-China gives them a great chance to learn from some of the world's best players."

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2019-07-25 07:32:09
<![CDATA[Tiger can't wait to unleash Presidents Cup squad]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/25/content_37495373.htm United States captain Tiger Woods can't wait to square off against the International Team for the Presidents Cup at Australia's Royal Melbourne Golf Club in December.

As Woods continues his preparation for the prestigious team competition from Dec 9-15, he said the depth of the American talent pool has been evident throughout the qualifying process, which will see the top eight players as of Aug 19 secure places on his team.

"I think it's never been more difficult to qualify for a US Team," Woods wrote in his latest captain's blog on www.presidentscup.com.

"You look at the names currently outside the top eight and it's amazing to think of the depth this team will have in December.

"It shows the incredible combination of veteran talent and young players who are ready to play on the biggest stage."

Those currently sitting outside the top eight include a trio of major winners and proven team members in Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson, while Rickie Fowler, Webb Simpson, Kevin Kisner and even Woods himself are presently out of the top eight and might require Woods to use his four captain's picks to complete the 12-man roster.

He is also excited at the prospect of young stars such as Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele making his team.

Cantlay won the Memorial Tournament in June while Schauffele has won twice this season, the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in China and Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

"Two of the best young guys are Patrick and Xander. I've played a lot rounds at Jack's place (Memorial Tournament) and enjoyed some success, but Patrick's 64 at the Memorial was seriously impressive," said Woods.

"He was also right there on Sunday at the Masters. For a guy who has only been out here a short time, Patrick is just scratching the surface of what he can accomplish.

"Xander is in a similar boat. He already has two wins this season and quietly went about his business to finish in the top five at the US Open. He has proven he can handle the spotlight, which is exactly what we need when we get to Royal Melbourne."

With reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year and world No 1 Brooks Koepka leading the US Team standings, Woods knows he can count on him to lead his squad.

"What else is there to say about Brooks? Winning the PGA Championship the way he did and almost making it three in a row at the US Open is really impressive," said the captain.

"He's doing all the little things well. If you watch his rounds, he misses the balls in the correct spots, leaving himself the easier ups-and-downs. If he misses a tee shot, it's always on the correct side. He's found what works for him and it's adding up over 72 holes.

"He's the leader of our standings, so it'll be nice to have him on the team in December."

Woods said he expects new US Open champion Gary Woodland to be among his troops primed for battle against the International Team, which will be led by South African captain Ernie Els.

"I couldn't be happier for Gary Woodland and his family. He's always had the game to win major championships, and I was glad to see him put it all together and perform under Sunday pressure," said Woods.

"Gary is trying to make a team representing the United States for the first time, so I'm interested to see how he continues to play before the top eight become official in August. Plus, who wouldn't want to see him hit those stingers at Royal Melbourne?"

The top eight players will automatically qualify for the US and International Teams following the BMW Championship, the second of three FedExCup Playoffs event, in mid-August.

Both Woods and Els will name their four captain's picks in early November after the PGA Tour's Asian swing, comprising the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges in South Korea, the Zozo Championship in Japan and the WGC-HSBC Champions in China.

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2019-07-25 07:32:09
<![CDATA['Assassin' ready to rock in Memphis]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/25/content_37495372.htm

The golf world may not be too familiar with Poom Saksansin, but PGA Tour stars Paul Casey and Henrik Stenson certainly know all about the baby-faced Thai who is nicknamed "Assassin".

The 26-year-old Poom will tee up in the $10.25 million World Golf Championships-FedEx St Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind in Memphis on Thursday with every intention of upstaging the stars in the city known as the birthplace of blues, soul, and rock'n' roll.

Poom earned his place in the elite field after winning the BNI Indonesian Masters last December for his third Asian Tour title.

While his recent form has been off key, the personable Thai is determined to make the most of his second WGC appearance.

"Playing in this event is a big opportunity for me, especially when the prize money is high and the field is very strong," Poom said on Tuesday, with the help of a translator.

Last year, Poom stood out as a hero for Team Asia in a loss to Team Europe at the EurAsia Cup in Malaysia.

He first partnered with Korea's Sung Kang, who is also in the field this week, to defeat Stenson and Frenchman Alex Levy 5-and-4 in the four-ball format, then stunned Casey 1-up in the singles.

"We need to rename him 'Assassin' instead of Saksansin," joked Stenson, who is a six-time PGA Tour winner including the 2007 WGCDell Technologies Match Play.

Poom's victory was especially sweet as he grew up idolizing Stenson.

Casey, a three-time PGA Tour winner, recalled his encounter against the Thai.

"He flat-out beat me ... . putted brilliantly and dusted me off at the last. And I was playing very nicely that week. I was trying to get a clean sweep of points. But that just shows how good he is, and I'm a good match play player," said the Englishman.

Poom, who finished a commendable T24 in the 2017 WGC-HSBC Champions in China, knows he needs to regain some semblance of his best form after hitting a recent road bump - thanks mainly to a misbehaving driver.

"My form is not on track at the moment but I'm doing everything I can to improve my game. I need my driver to work again," said Poom, who has hit 54 percent of fairways on the Japan Tour and 64 percent on the Asian Tour this season.

"For me, WGC is a big event. As there is no (halfway) cut, there will be less pressure, so it should be a good time to perform," added the Thai, who is currently ranked 249th in the world after starting the year at No 140.

Poom harbored dreams of playing collegiate golf in the US but failed the TOEFL(Test of English as a Foreign Language). "I got straight A's in most of my studies but not English. I would sleep in that class," he said with a laugh.

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2019-07-25 07:32:09
<![CDATA[Zhou making full-throttle run at F1]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/25/content_37495371.htm Young Chinese driver determined to realize his dream on biggest stage

Chinese Formula One fans have long dreamed of cheering one of their own in the world's most prestigious auto sport.

That prospect is looking ever more realistic thanks to the form of young gun Zhou Guanyu, who earlier this month became the first Chinese to claim pole position in a Formula 2 race, at England's famous Silverstone track.

The 20-year-old went on to finish third and climbed to sixth in the overall standings as UNI-Virtuosi Racing teammate Luca Ghiotto topped the podium.

In January, Zhou was appointed Renault F1's development driver, earning him the right to work alongside some of the sport's finest at the team's British base in Enstone.

The position involves driving the team's simulator and participating in engineering briefings, making him the first driver from China to fill a Formula 1 role with a manufacturer team.

"As long as I'm available, I'll sit in on the drivers' and engineers' meetings, so it's a great chance for me to learn from the experts," Zhou told China Daily in an exclusive interview during a visit home on Tuesday.

"Now I can acquire first-hand F1 experience - understanding how the teams actually work on every racing weekend. I can also communicate with the drivers, such as Daniel Ricciardo, in the pit."

Having graduated from F3, Zhou now hopes his superb season in F2 will attract more F1 interest in his talents.

"My goals are not only winning more pole positions and trophies in F2 - my ultimate ambition is to enter F1," he said.

Zhou has been a motor sports fan since he was a kid and started go-karting when he was just 8 years old.

F1's China debut in 2004 further piqued the youngster's interest, though he could barely distinguish between the racers as their cars zoomed around the Shanghai International circuit.

One blue car stuck in his mind: Fernando Alonso's Renault. And the two-time F1 world champion later became Zhou's idol.

The Spaniard's trademark tenacity soon rubbed off on the young Zhou.

"To chase my F1 dream, I went to Europe for higher levels of go-kart competitions when I was 12 years old," said Zhou. "It was a small school in the UK, and it was a tough time for me at first. I was the only Chinese kid in that school.

"At the very beginning, a Chinese face was not accepted by some and they would crash into me on purpose. All of that changed when I proved my worth by winning."

That sort of high-octane action has sadly been lacking from F1 in recent seasons, with several drivers, including world champion Lewis Hamilton, saying the races have become too processional.

"Don't point fingers at the drivers because we don't write the rules," Hamilton said after winning last month's French Grand Prix.

"We have nothing to do with the money and all that kind of stuff. You should put the pressure on the people at the head who should be doing their job.

"I think they are trying to, but for many, many years they have made bad decisions."

Zhou agrees with Hamilton's assessment and trusts the sport's governing body will find solutions to inject some excitement back into the sport.

"I wish there could be more intense battles between the racers," said Zhou. "Hopefully FIA will change some of the rules in 2021 to make the races more exciting."

 

Zhou hoists his third-place trophy in France in June. At Silverstone, England, he became the first Chinese to claim pole position in a Formula 2 race.

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2019-07-25 07:32:09
<![CDATA[Mayweather punches in as Team China's 'special adviser']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/25/content_37495370.htm The Chinese Boxing Federation is turning to Floyd to fill a void in preparing for next year's Tokyo Olympics.

Retired five division world champion Floyd Mayweather Jr has been recruited by the CBF to serve as a "special adviser" to the national team as it looks to at least double the three medals it won at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

In a statement posted on its official WeChat account this week, the federation said American legend Mayweather, the featherweight bronze medalist at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and one of the greatest defensive fighters in history, has pledged to "go all-out to use his influence and resources to support the Chinese boxing project in achieving excellent results at the Tokyo Olympics."

China first competed in Olympic boxing at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, but it wasn't until Athens 2004 that Zou Shiming won the nation's first medal in the ring, a bronze in the light flyweight division.

Zou and light heavyweight Zhang Xiaoping became national heroes by winning gold at the 2008 Beijing Games and Zou was champion again at London 2012, but there's since been little for Chinese fight fans to get excited about.

A total of 43 boxers (38 men, 5 women) have represented the nation in nine Olympics, bringing home 12 medals (3 gold, 3 silver and 6 bronze). In Rio, Yin Junhua captured silver in the women's lightweight division, Li Qian won bronze in women's middleweight and Hu Jianguan took bronze in men's flyweight.

While no job description or financial details of Mayweather's arrangement with the CBF are available, it's safe to say the 42-year-old isn't doing it for the money. After retiring in late 2016 with a perfect 50-0 record, one of his first moves was a "luxury tour "of China.

During a 2017 visit to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Chengdu (where he purchased naming rights to a baby panda), Mayweather posted online photos of himself and members of his entourage on the Great Wall.

"I'm here on 'The Great Wall of China', considered to be one of the greatest wonders of the world!" the champ wrote to his 22 million followers on Instagram.

"China has always been on my list of places to see throughout my travels in life. Coming here with 23 people has been a great experience and it doesn't hurt to get paid $3,000,000 to simply vacation in luxury for a few days. With money this long, everything is different. I move different, I dress different and I live different because my money is extremely different!"

After pocketing an estimated $350 million for defeating Manny Pacquiao in 2015's "Fight of the Century", Mayweather came out of retirement two years later to TKO Irish mixed martial arts champion Connor McGregor in a crossover match that ended in the 10th round and paid the American an astounding $178,041 per second after his share of worldwide pay-per-view revenue was included.

In a final "farewell" exhibition match last Dec 31 in Tokyo, Mayweather knocked out Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in one round.

The man who nicknamed himself "Money" was back in the news last Saturday when he was ringside in Las Vegas to watch the 40-year-old Pacquiao dethrone Keith Thurman as WBA world welterweight champion - sparking talk of a possible rematch with the Filipino icon.

"We would love to fight Mayweather again ... It would be bigger than the first fight," said Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's trainer.

But a Mayweather spokesman quickly dismissed the idea, saying, "Floyd is happily retired and looking forward to pursuing some interesting new projects.

"He has zero interest in a rematch."

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2019-07-25 07:32:09
<![CDATA[Li's legend just keeps growing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/20/content_37493808.htm

Chinese superstar prepares for Hall of Fame enshrinement

NEW YORK - Li Na remembers first watching tennis on TV at her childhood home in Wuhan, Hubei province.

Mesmerized by the unforgettable style of an American star with flowing locks who wore an earring and denim shorts, she became an instant fan.

"Andre Agassi is my role model," Li said on Thursday.

The 37-year-old Chinese legend, who will be formally inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on Saturday, told Xinhua she has been dreaming of establishing a tennis school since her retirement in September 2014.

"Although that dream has not yet come true, I am engaging in training young players, with the collaboration of Nike and Mercedez," she said.

"My training philosophy is interest-oriented, not title-oriented. It focuses on inspiring young kids who love the sport to play joyfully."

Li went from idolizing Agassi as a role model to becoming one herself.

Her triumph at the 2011 French Open made her the first player from Asia to win a Grand Slam singles title and put her on course to tirelessly contribute to the sport's growth in her homeland.

"She's an icon in China ... a huge superstar," said Mike Silverman, director of sport for the New York City Parks Foundation.

"Tennis in China has never been the same since more than 100 million people watched her win the French Open. It changed everything."

Li conducted a clinic with dozens of children from Silverman's organization on Thursday and her influence was obvious. The foundation uses tennis to promote physical fitness and build self-confidence by offering free instruction to thousands of kids in more than 36 parks throughout New York's five boroughs.

Justin Chong, 13, was thrilled to have the opportunity to trade some shots with Li.

"I started playing tennis at the age of seven and joined the program five years ago. I am so glad to have the chance to play with Li Na. Her career shows that if you work hard, you can achieve anything," Chong told Xinhua.

Li added a second major title at the 2014 Australian Open after twice losing in its final, rose to No 2 in the WTA rankings and earned more than 500 singles wins before hanging up her racket.

"At least I always tried my best on the court," Li said. "If you try hard at everything I think one day for sure there will be payback."

The mother of two said she was a little nervous about Saturday's induction ceremony in Newport, Rhode Island, but takes inspiration from something else she admired about Agassi.

"Andre never cared about what other people said, he just did things his own way," said Li, who is joined in this year's Hall of Fame class by two-time Grand Slam singles champions Mary Pierce of France and Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia.

Li said she can see the growth of tennis in China, where the WTA Finals will be played in Shenzhen for the next 10 years and which got another event on this year's tour calendar when the former Connecticut Open was moved to Zhengzhou.

"It's not only good for the athletes, it's good for the fans to have less traveling," Li said. "They can see a high-level tournament in China.

"I think Chinese tennis is still young. We have a lot of time to get bigger and better."

Xinhua / Agencies

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2019-07-20 07:26:26
<![CDATA[WWE bullish on building stronger fan support in China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/20/content_37493807.htm

WWE China's latest tryout camp ended at Shanghai's Mercedes-Benz Arena on Thursday, with 42 athletes participating in the four-day event.

After reviewing the talent at its second camp in Shanghai (the first was in 2016), the WWE will select a handful of wrestlers to undergo training at its performance center in Orlando, Florida.

"This year's tryouts represent the next step in our continued commitment to China," said WWE executive vice-president John Brody.

"The tryout system that we have going all around the world has yielded great success for us, with 60 percent of our superstars from outside the US.

"The greatest motivation to come back to China to hold another tryout camp was the Chinese superstars we have on our roster now," Brody added, in reference to homegrown wrestlers Xia Li Boa and Rocky.

"We have really high hopes for them. We could be back again quite soon to hold another tryout camp."

The WWE's commitment to expanding its presence in the Chinese market is evidenced by its recent move to renew its partnership with domestic broadcaster PP Sports to deliver WWE content.

WWE China vice-president and general manager Jay Li said the partnership has been a boon for the brand's exposure here, with over 2 billion video views and about 6 million followers across all its Chinese social media platforms.

"But we aren't just relying on organic growth - we're strategically choosing where to grow," said Li.

"For example, we launched our content on the QTT platform on July 1, which is extremely strong and fast-growing in Chinese cities that are tier 3 and below. We're very methodical about driving the consumption of our content."

WWE is planning to launch its WWE Now China talk show in the coming months. Produced in Mandarin, it will feature content that helps fans understand the real lives of Chinese WWE superstars.

Chinese fans can also expect to see more WWE content on other sports channels.

"We're working alongside consumers to understand what they're watching besides WWE," said Li. "Take English Premier League soccer, for instance. We understand the Chinese audience loves soccer and we have a tremendous relationship with EPL clubs like Man City and West Ham United.

"Those teams want to interact with us. We don't just want to talk about wrestling."

WWE is staging its fourth live show in Shanghai on Sep 21 at Mercedes-Benz Arena. The superstars expected to be in attendance include Roman Reigns, Asuka, Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura and China's own Xia Li.

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2019-07-20 07:26:26
<![CDATA[Digest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/20/content_37493806.htm

Diving

Xie extends perfect golden run at worlds

Defending champion Xie Siyi of China won the men's 3-meter springboard final at the world swimming championships on Thursday after Britain's Jack Laugher blew his last dive.

It extended China's perfect run at the championships in South Korea to 10 golds in 10 diving events.

Laugher led all the way until scoring only 30.6 points on his sixth dive, and had to settle for bronze with 504.55 points. Xie scored 102.60 points on his last dive for a total of 545.45.

"I looked at the scoreboard after the third round and then I focused on myself," Xie said. "I did not watch Jack's last dive but I comforted him before the medal ceremony."

Laugher said he simply made a mistake on his last dive.

"I hit the wall with my right fist after I saw the results," he said. "When you can potentially make history and then you make a mistake, well, I was really angry."

Volleyball

China's U23 women on a roll in Hanoi

Team China downed host Vietnam 3-1 on Thursday to remain unbeaten after four matches at the ongoing Asian women's U23 championship, which wraps up on Sunday in Hanoi.

China won by scores of 25-14, 25-15, 23-25 and 25-13 in 102 minutes, highlighted by many eye-catching aces.

Earlier, Team China notched 3-0 victories over New Zealand, India and Chinese Taipei. Also on Thursday, Hong Kong lost 3-0 to Thailand in 74 minutes.

Soccer

De Ligt world's most expensive defender

Dutch central defender Matthijs de Ligt, one of the world's most coveted players, signed with Juventus on Thursday after transferring from Ajax for a fee of $84.2 million, plus add-ons.

The 19-year-old agreed to a five-year contract with the Italian champion. Juventus said in a statement the fee would be paid over five years, with "additional costs" of $13 million.

The combined fee makes De Ligt the world's most expensive defender, surpassing the $95 million Liverpool paid to sign his Netherlands teammate Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton in 2018.

Basketball

Harden buys minority share in soccer teams

Houston Rockets superstar James Harden has made an investment in his NBA city, buying a minority stake in the group that runs the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer, the Houston Dash of the National Women's Soccer League and BBVA Stadium, where the two teams play.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity to join the ownership group of the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash and proud to be a part of a club with tremendous history and a great future," Harden said in a statement posted to the Dynamo website.

"Houston is my home, and I saw this as a way to invest in my city and expand my business interests at the same time. Soccer in general, and especially MLS, has exploded in this country throughout my lifetime.

"I've been a fan of the game for several years, and I know that Houston has a massive soccer fanbase, so it was an easy decision for me when this opportunity arose."

Ice Hockey

Ovechkin making 'important' trip here

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin will visit China next month as part of the NHL's continued outreach initiative.

Ovechkin will travel to Beijing in early August as a league ambassador. He's expected to take part in youth clinics, interviews and business development meetings.

The Russian superstar said on Thursday it's "very important to spend time to help make people all over the world see how great a game hockey is."

Ovechkin was outspoken prior to the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, at one point saying he'd like to go even if the NHL did not because of how much he values representing his country.

The NHL decided not to send players, and Ovechkin did not leave the Capitals to participate.

Boxing

Pacquiao looking to add to his legacy

Twenty-four years after first climbing into a professional boxing ring, Manny Pacquiao will attempt to defy the march of time when he challenges undefeated WBA welterweight champ Keith Thurman in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

The 40-year-old Filipino icon, an eight-division champion, clashes with Thurman at the MGM Grand in what is arguably his most daunting assignment since losing to Floyd Mayweather in 2015's "Fight of the Century", which generated nearly $1 billion in revenue.

Pacquiao, 61-7-2 with 39 KOs, looked sharp in his last outing in January, a unanimous decision against Adrien Broner of the US.

Thurman, from Florida, is renowned as one of the hardest punchers in the welterweight division, with 22 knockouts on his 29-0 ledger.

Tennis

US Open now richest Grand Slam in history

The Aug 26-Sept 8 US Open will be the richest Grand Slam tournament in history after organizers on Thursday announced prize money for the event has been increased to $57 million.

The US Tennis Association said the winners of the men's and women's singles titles at the tournament will receive record paydays of $3.85 million while the men's and women's doubles champions will pocket $740,000.

The purse is an eight percent increase over 2018, and enables the US Open to offer the highest payouts for each round of any of the four tennis majors. Over the past four years, payouts for first-round losers have increased by 47 percent, while players eliminated in the second round will receive $100,000.

Xinhua - Agencies

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2019-07-20 07:26:26
<![CDATA[Gettin' serious about rolling into Tokyo]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/18/content_37492947.htm For the new generation of 'urban athletes', sensible nutrition and training have replaced burgers and beer

BARCELONA - Hamburgers are out, hitting the gym is in.

With skateboarding set to make its Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games, top competitors are training furiously in a bid to qualify.

"Now we are athletes, within quotation marks, 'urban athletes'," joked 24-year-old Spaniard Danny Leon, sporting a surfer haircut, at a skateboarding competition in Barcelona.

 

Spanish rider Danny Leon takes part in an Open Street senior men's skateboard event at the World Roller Games in Barcelona on July 6. AFP

 

Decked out in jeans, a loose dark shirt and the obligatory baseball cap, Leon is well positioned to fly the flag for Spain in Tokyo - and he's taking it seriously.

"Before it would be just hitting the streets with your board and skating. Now we train," said Leon.

"We exercise and stretch before and after. We take care of our bodies more, eat better ... no more hamburgers and pizzas."

Leon is one of several top skateboarders currently in Barcelona for the World Roller Games, the world's largest event encompassing all disciplines of championship roller sports.

"Right now I go to the gym a lot to improve my resistance and then I train four hours every day, repeating tricks all the time," said Portugal's Gustavo Ribeiro.

The 18-year-old is ranked No 2 in the world in "street" skateboarding and has a good chance of finishing on the podium at the Olympics.

In Tokyo, competitors will be slotted in "street" and "park" categories.

Street skateboarding features stairs or benches, intended to mirror a natural street, while park boarding takes place on a hollowed-out course, usually involving bowls that give boarders great height, allowing for more complex tricks.

"It sounds crazy that I can get a gold medal representing my country at the Olympics," said Ribeiro.

'Lazy potheads'

His excitement contrasts with the misgivings many in the skateboarding community displayed when Olympic chiefs in 2016 supported a proposal to allow the sport in the Tokyo 2020 Games.

They feared it could curb skateboarding's street-culture roots.

"If you want to do it for fun, you can go to the street, do your tricks, have fun and have some beers. But I want to take it seriously," said Argentina's Matias Dell Olio.

"I get up early, I work out at the gym, I stretch, I eat better. I have been skating since I was six. That's my lifestyle ... but it's also my job."

Peru's Angelo Caro, 19, said the inclusion of skateboarding in the Tokyo Games opened the doors for him at his country's top training center for athletes.

He hopes it will also shatter stereotypes about skateboarders.

"People who see us as lazy potheads will see that it is really a beautiful sport that involves a lot of talent and effort.

"It's a very physically demanding activity. Every day we fall multiple times. It's a real sacrifice, and we hurt ourselves," added Caro, whose body is covered with scars and bruises.

Wardrobe worries

World Skate president Sabatino Aracu said that skateboarding will bring "fresh air" and "young blood "to the Olympics.

A total of 80 boarders will compete in Tokyo - 40 in the "street "category and 40 in the "park" category.

An equal number of men and women will compete in each category, and a country can send a maximum of three representatives per category.

Qualification depends on points obtained during major international competitions.

"We work with a calculator. There are tricks that are worth eight or nine points, but if you only need seven, you do an easier trick to secure a spot on the podium," said Dell Olio.

Aside from preparing tricks, Leon is worried about one other thing ahead of the Olympics.

"How should we dress?" he said.

"I can't imagine wearing track pants. We all skate in jeans, with a cap. I hope they let us dress however we want."

Agence France-Presse

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2019-07-18 07:27:12
<![CDATA[Tiger hoping less is more in managing major workload]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/18/content_37492946.htm PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland - Tiger Woods was on the practice range when the gates at the British Open were unlocked on Tuesday, and before long he was on the tee and ready to go.

He just didn't go for very long.

Woods played a full round at Royal Portrush when he arrived on Sunday morning, and then again on Monday. But on his third day of getting to know a links course that hasn't hosted the British Open in 68 years, Woods made it down No 1 and then skipped over to the 13th and played the homestretch.

It would be simple to assume it was fatigue. After all, Woods hasn't competed since June 16 at the US Open, and he has only 10 rounds under his belt since his April victory at the Masters - his 15th career major.

No one wants to overdo it at a major, so this was nothing out of the ordinary.

Then again, very little is ordinary with golf's biggest star these days.

When asked if there was anything physically bothering him outside the norm, Woods smiled and said: "Anything outside the norm?" The laughter made it hard to hear him say: "No."

His chances at the British Open are nearly as mysterious as Royal Portrush.

Even at age 43, with four knee surgeries and, more recently, more back surgeries behind him, he showed how capable he was against a young generation of talent by winning at Augusta National with smart, strategic golf to overcome a two-shot deficit and win a fifth green jacket.

It's everything since then that speaks to his outlook on golf.

He took a month off to recover emotionally and physically from his taxing win at the Masters, only to miss the cut at the PGA Championship.

He played the Memorial and then the US Open, and then he was off to Thailand for a family holiday before returning home to Florida.

At this rate, he'll play no more than 14 times in the PGA Tour season, though he still has a few events overseas at the end of the year.

This is the new norm.

Woods played plenty last year, trying to get back inside the world's top 50 - he's now up to No 5 - to become eligible for World Golf Championships he once took for granted. It led to more golf than he wanted to play.

"This year I made a conscious effort to cut back on my schedule to make sure I don't play too much," he said. "I want to play here as long as I possibly can. And you have to understand, if I play a lot, I won't be out here that long."

The trick now is to figure out how much he needs to compete in tournaments to be ready.

Still to be determined is what kind of weather - the wind, in particular - Woods and the rest of the field will see. The wind has not been the prevailing direction for two days of practice, and it hasn't been much wind at all.

The forecast? Take a pick.

One bulletin provided by the Royal & Ancient said the tournament days would feature "changeable conditions continuing with showers or longer spells of rain interspersed with drier and brighter interludes".

It concluded by saying, "Confidence low in any details."

That was about as clear as picking who stands the best chance at Royal Portrush.

Woods sees it as other links courses, where power can be equalized by control. Darren Clarke, who forged his game on these links as a junior, feels the same way. He even pointed to a six-foot-wide swath of fairway on a slope at the 17th that would send the ball down toward the green. Now that's control.

US Open champion Gary Woodland sees it differently.

"The last couple of days, power has been a huge deal," Woodland said. "I've hit a lot of drivers."

He played with Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson on Monday and found he had a "huge advantage" by being able to send the ball a long way in the air.

Woods used as references Greg Norman and Tom Watson, two former British Open champions who nearly won in their 50s because length is not as paramount at Augusta National or the other two US majors.

Norman was 53 (and still on his honeymoon with ex-wife Chris Evert) when he had the 54-hole lead at Royal Birkdale in 2008. A year later, a 59-year-old Watson was an eight-foot putt away from winning at Turnberry. He lost in a playoff.

Woods isn't that old. There was some speculation that cool air at the previous two majors didn't help his cause as he tries to keep his back loose.

"It's just part of, unfortunately, dealing with the procedures I've had, and being a little bit older," Woods said.

"It just doesn't move quite as fast when it's a little bit cooler. But the great thing is playing in an Open Championship, you can do it. Look what Tom did at Turnberry, what Greg did at Birkdale.

"The course is fast enough. You just have to navigate the bunkers and navigate the golf course."

Associated Press

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2019-07-18 07:27:12
<![CDATA['Lady Messi' wants to see some home improvement]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/18/content_37492945.htm

Wang Shuang urges Chinese league to try to match European standards

Wang Shuang believes a wholesale upgrade of China's professional women's league would help Team China's Steel Roses revive the glory days.

After leaving Paris Saint-Germain earlier this month, 'Lady Messi' kicked off the new Chinese season in style by finding the net to earn Wuhan Jianghan University a 2-1 win over Guangdong Huijun.

Afterward on Weibo, Wang acknowledged the passionate support of the local fans, but she's under no illusions that the league has a long way to go to catch up with Europe's elite divisions.

"There's a huge gap. Although the women's league is not as popular as the men's game in Europe, it still receives great attention," Wang said during a Tuesday interaction with fans on zhibo8.cc.

"In Paris, there are a number of hardcore fans of the women's team at each match. And before some important games, such as against Lyon, the club organizes comprehensive promotion to attract more spectators and create a great atmosphere.

"Each team knows how to promote itself and they are all very professional. As a pro player at the club, I felt so honored and motivated to play for the team."

Wang reckons a similar approach at Chinese clubs would quickly benefit Team China, whose last-16 loss to Italy at the World Cup last month underlined how far the Steel Roses - runners-up at the 1999 finals and 1996 Olympics - have let standards slip.

Apart from eventual winner the United States, the rest of this summer's World Cup quarterfinalists were European - evidence, Wang believes, of how important it is to nurture a strong domestic scene.

"We should guarantee the development of a better professional league," said Wang, who won more hearts back home when she broke down in tears after the 2-0 loss to Italy in Montpellier.

"The reason why there was seven European teams in the quarterfinals is because of the growth of women's soccer leagues in Europe.

"They have stronger body strength and greater soccer tradition. Considering they are so focused on building the women's game, it's natural that they've grown this fast.

"I hope the league in China can also improve in terms of better pitches, infrastructure and other aspects."

The premature end to Wang's two-year PSG contract has widely been attributed to her self-confessed difficulties in balancing club and country commitments, but she's stated that a return to Europe could be in the cards after next year's Tokyo Olympics.

The 2018 AFC Women's Player of the Year proved her immense worth both on and off the pitch during her stint in Paris.

The 23-year-old found the net seven times in the French top flight last term and became the first Chinese to score in the Champions League.

"In one season at Paris Saint-Germain, Wang Shuang really made her mark and won the hearts of all PSG fans," said Bruno Cheyrou, PSG Feminines sporting director.

"On the pitch she showed her true talents, seamlessly integrating into the squad and winning numerous individual awards.

"Off the field, she has become an iconic player who has contributed enormously to the club's reputation in China, with over eight million Chinese fans following her Parisian mini-series on social media."

Indeed, Wang's personal life has always intrigued fans, some of whom broached the subject of her love life during Tuesday's online chat.

"I'm still single and my requirement of any future boyfriend is that he treats me well," Wang said.

"When I'm off the pitch, I like watching movies and hanging around with my friends.

"I don't wear make-up very often ... but I will if I have to attend important events.

"Some of my friends always tease me for wearing sports jerseys too often in my daily life."

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2019-07-18 07:27:12
<![CDATA[Champions set to square off for Guangzhou glory]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/18/content_37492944.htm David Kocher narrowly leads fellow American Trevor Sluman in the 2019 PGA Tour Series-China order of merit as the tour swings into the Greater Bay area for this week's Guangzhou Open.

All eight of this year's winners will tee it up at Nansha Golf Club on Thursday for the ninth tournament on the 14-event schedule.

Japan's Taihei Sato pocketed 288,000 yuan ($42,000) in the season-opening Chongqing Championship after beating China's Liu Yanwei in a playoff. Sato currently sits eighth on the order of merit despite playing in just three events and has yet to finish outside the top 15.

Sluman claimed the Sanya Championship, the second event of the season, and currently trails Kocher by just under 50,000 yuan ($7,200) after recording three other top-10s.

Kocher overtook Sluman to top the money list after his runner-up finish at last month's Huangshan Championship moved him to 628,520 yuan ($91,300). The rookie pro is returning to Guangzhou, where he earned conditional status for the season at the second global qualifying tournament.

After earning a Monday ticket into the season-opening Chongqing Championship, Kocher had an impressive three-week stretch, backing a third-place finish in Chongqing with a tie for 18th in Sanya before netting 288,000 yuan with his win at the Haikou Championship.

Canada's Richard Jung also earned 288,000 yuan for his triumph at the Beijing Championship after playing in just two events. He sits 10th in the order of merit while splitting his schedule with events on the Japan Tour.

One week after Jung's victory, South Korea's Luke Kwon claimed the Qinhuangdao Championship and the following week American Kevin Techakanokboon defeated England's Stephen Lewton in a rain-soaked playoff to claim the Nantong Championship.

Kwon is fourth on the money list while Techakanokboon sits fifth. They'll be looking to retain their spots as the top five finishers at the end of the season will earn cards for next year's Korn Ferry Tour (formerly Web.com Tour).

Cyril Bouniolis of France, who became the first European to win on the tour with his one-stroke victory over Sluman at the Suzhou Open last month, is also competing in Guangzhou. The former European Tour player is currently seventh on the order of merit.

Leading the charge for China will be Bai Zhengkai, who won last month's Huangshan Championship. The 21-year-old will be playing his fourth series event of the season.

Meanwhile, American Max McGreevy is still on the hunt for a breakthrough victory in China.

The former NCAA champion with the University of Oklahoma has been the most consistent player on this season's tour, recording six top-10s. He's third on the money list with 576,232 yuan ($83,800) and in the hunt to return to the Korn Ferry Tour, where he played a full season in 2018.

Other former winners in this week's field include China's Jin Cheng, Zhang Huilin and Chao Haimeng; Canadians Peter Campbell, Justin Shin and Eugene Wong; Americans Jeffrey Kang and Sam Chien; Australians James Marchesani and Bryden MacPherson; and South Korea's Kim Tae-woo.

The PGA Tour established the PGA Tour Series-China in 2014 as its third international developmental tour, following in the footsteps of PGA Tour Latinoamerica and the Mackenzie Tour - PGA Tour Canada.

Since its inception, PGA Tour Series-China players have received official World Golf Ranking points for top finishes at sanctioned tournaments.

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2019-07-18 07:27:12
<![CDATA[Digest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/18/content_37492943.htm Diving

China runs away with mixed team gold

China's golden run at the World Swimming Championships continued on Tuesday in Gwangju, South Korea, with a victory in the mixed team diving final.

Lin Shan and Yang Jian won with a total of 416.65 points, collecting China's first gold in the event - involving 3 and 10-meter dives - since it was introduced at the worlds in 2015.

It was a runaway victory for the Chinese duo, whose closest rivals were Russian pair Iuliia Timoshinina and Sergey Nazin (390.05) and Andrew Capobianco and Katrina Young of the United States (357.60).

"I only knew I would compete in this event one week ago," said Yang, bronze medalist in the men's 10-meter platform in Budapest two years ago.

"We did not have time to train together. The most important thing was to show our best in the competition."

Until Tuesday, China's best result in the mixed team event was a third-place finish by Chen Ruolin and Xie Siyi in 2015.

Soccer

Paulinho's hat-trick punches out Dalian

Guangzhou Evergrande extended its winning streak to nine matches as Paulinho's hat-trick helped the seven-time Chinese Super League champion beat Dalian Yifang 4-1 at home on Tuesday.

In other CSL action, Shanghai Shenhua moved out of the relegation zone with a 3-2 triumph over Henan Jianye, while Guangzhou R&F edged Tianjin Teda 2-1.

The victory sent Evergrande top of the CSL table, one point ahead of second-place Beijing Guo'an, which was due to face to Beijing Renhe on Wednesday night.

"I'm thankful for my teammates and the club. What I did is just be at the right place at the right time to score the hat-trick," Paulinho said.

Griezmann raring to be Messi's right-hand man

Barcelona's new signing Antoine Griezmann is looking forward to the new La Liga season - and to playing alongside Lionel Messi.

Griezmann sealed his 120 million euro ($134 million) move from Atletico Madrid to Barcelona last week.

In a Tuesday interview with Barca's TV channel, the French midfielder said he's looking forward to the upcoming season when he will share a place in Barca's vaunted attack alongside players such as Messi and Luis Suarez.

"We are going to enjoy ourselves both on and off the pitch; that is why I have come here and I am going to help all that I can," Griezmann said.

The 2018 World Cup winner had special words of praise for Messi.

"He is the number one player in the game, like LeBron (James) in basketball. LeBron is the image of basketball and the NBA, the same way that Messi is the image of football."

Basketball

Simmons won't be suiting up for Boomers

Ben Simmons' new contract extension with the Philadelphia 76ers came with bad news for Australian basketball fans: The Melbourne-born NBA All-Star won't be suiting up for the Boomers at the upcoming World Cup.

Hours after Simmons and the 76ers agreed to a five-year, $170 million contract extension on Tuesday, Simmons said he wants to spend time with his new teammates in September instead of traveling to China for the Aug 31-Sept 15 World Cup.

"I wanted to let everyone know that after consulting with my representation, I've made the difficult decision to forego playing in the World Cup," Simmons said.

Basketball

Judge, Gregorius ignite New York power surge

Aaron Judge smashed a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth inning and Didi Gregorius followed with a grand slam later in the inning as the New York Yankees beat Tampa Bay 8-3 at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday to maintain a six-game lead atop the AL East.

A pitch after slicing a would-be homer just foul, Judge hammered a 3-2 fastball from left-hander Colin Poche (2-3) into the right-center field seats to make it 4-3.

It was Judge's 10th homer of the season, and he carried the bat nearly all the way to first base before tossing it down and going into his home run trot.

Gregorius took a curtain call after hitting a long grand slam later in the inning that ended a 1-for-23 skid.

Ice Hockey

Seattle expected to hire Francis as GM

Seattle's NHL expansion team is close to an agreement with Hockey Hall of Famer Ron Francis to become its first general manager, a source with direct knowledge of the situation told AP.

The source spoke on condition of anonymity because the unnamed team had not made an announcement. Seattle is set to begin play in the 2021-22 season as the NHL's 32nd franchise.

The 56-year-old Francis has been in hockey operations with the Carolina Hurricanes since ending his Hall of Fame playing career in 2004.

Xinhua - Agencies

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2019-07-18 07:27:12
<![CDATA[It will take time for Thunder to reload]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/17/content_37492493.htm

Westbrook's departure severs last link to OKC squad that came oh so close

OKLAHOMA CITY - Yosef Maaroof wanted one more Russell Westbrook memory in Oklahoma City.

When he learned last week that the Thunder planned to trade Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul and draft picks, the 20-year-old Tulsa resident prepared to make the two-hour drive to Oklahoma City with friends.

They wanted to take videos and photos in front of the large images of Thunder players that adorn Chesapeake Energy Arena during the season, hoping Westbrook's photo would still be up when they arrived on Friday morning.

It wasn't, so Maaroof came up with a different tribute. In a video he posted on Twitter, he put on the Westbrook jerseys he's collected since 2012, took them off one by one and laid them side by side in front of the arena. He donned 18 jerseys in the video, which has been viewed more than 85,000 times.

Maaroof said Westbrook has always been his favorite player. And the next addition to his collection will be a Rockets jersey.

"He was never perfect, but just the emotion he showed - he was very relatable," Maaroof said. "He was the underdog. People have always just not appreciated him the way they should have."

With their emotional spark plug gone, the Thunder, as we knew them, are no more. Westbrook was the last remaining player from the team that moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City in 2008.

Kevin Durant, James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Paul George and others, all gone. Now Westbrook.

He spent his entire 11-year career with the Thunder, despite earlier chances to leave. With Westbrook, the Thunder won at least 45 games for 10 straight years and reached the Western Conference Finals four times, including a run to the NBA Finals in 2012.

"It's a lot of heartbreak," Maaroof said as he recalled recent conversations with his friends. "Not to be dramatic, but it really feels like someone died. We're all 20 years old, so we all grew up with Russ, grew up with this team, pretty much through middle school, high school, now college."

Sure, Westbrook was a league MVP, two-time scoring champion and two-time All-Star MVP. Yes, he was a freakish athlete and triple-double threat every night. And against the odds, he evolved from perceived ball hog to two-time NBA assist leader.

But it goes beyond that for Thunder fans.

Westbrook is from the Los Angeles area, and with it came the flash and style one might expect. But he adopted Oklahoma City and supported the community with his reading rooms, basketball camps, comedy shows and his yearly Thanksgiving meal at the Boys and Girls Club.

The night everyone learned Westbrook was being dealt, he was at a comedy club in Tulsa for a benefit show.

"He's like the staple of the franchise," Tulsa comic Hynni B said. "He makes you want to stand up, he makes you want to have heart. You know where he came from, you know what he's doing for the community. It's hurtful to see him to leave."

Most of all, he'll be remembered as the one who had stayed. He signed an extension in 2016, then signed a long-term deal in 2017, forever endearing himself to OKC fans who felt burned by Durant's departure for rival Golden State.

"When he stuck it out, it was like bro, this is our leader," said Jerry Manna, a Tulsa resident at the comedy show. "This is our guy. After he did that, I didn't care what anybody said. I wasn't accepting no Westbrook slander. No sir."

Westbrook teamed up with Durant and Harden to introduce the Thunder as a league power early this decade. At their peak, the young trio led the franchise to the Finals seven years ago, a loss to the Miami Heat. Now, Westbrook will be reunited with Harden.

The run in Oklahoma City wasn't supposed to end yet, but George left first for the Los Angeles Clippers, opening the door for an earlier-than-expected reboot.

Thunder forward Jerami Grant was traded before Westbrook, and now OKC has added multiple first-round picks for its rebuilding project. It will take time and coach Billy Donovan will get plenty of chances to tinker with his lineup.

OKC hasn't been in this mode since the 2008-09 season, but mayor David Holt said it is time to embrace it. He notes that the same general manager who brought the success - Sam Presti - is still running the show.

And that offers a sliver of hope for aching Thunder fans.

Associated Press

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2019-07-17 07:54:39
<![CDATA[Roberts conjures Monday magic]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/17/content_37492492.htm England's Oliver Roberts fired a 4-under 65 to win Monday's qualifier and earn entry into this week's PGA Tour Series-China Guangzhou Open.

Nine other players from seven different countries and regions also earned a spot in the tournament, which opens on Thursday.

Australia's Dale Williamson shot a 67 in his first trip to China to share second with South Korea's Jang Seung-bo, one ahead of India's Priyanshu Singh.

It was a third consecutive successful qualifier for Roberts, who also shot his way into the tour's last two events. He went on to miss the cut at the Suzhou Open but tied for 34th the following week at the Huangshan Championship.

The Hong Kong-based Roberts carded five birdies against just one bogey in hot conditions at Nansha Golf Club on Monday.

"I thought I played really well; I was patient, and I played really sensibly," he said.

"The pins were quite difficult. Some of them were sloping, so I just tried to take my chances when I could. On Thursday, I'll stick to the same formula. I have to be very patient, but a lot depends on the weather.

"Today was one of the hottest days I've played in all year, so that might dictate how the course plays and how everyone feels."

Amateur Aaron Du from China shot a 71 to share fifth place with Korea's Lee Jae-yeong and Chinese Taipei's Lee Chao-hua.

Two other Chinese amateurs, Hu Jiaxuan and Chen Peilen, along with Singapore's Marc Ong, were the final three to qualify after shooting 72s.

 

From left: This season's PGA Tour Series-China champions - Luke Kwon of South Korea (Qinhuangdao Championship), Frenchman Cyril Bouniol (Suzhou Open), David Kocher from the United States (Haikou Championship) and Trevor Sluman from the US (Sanya Championship) - pose on Tuesday aboard a boat at Nansha Marina, a prestigious yacht club jointly launched by Guangzhou's Nansha district and Henry Fok Ying Tung Group Co Ltd, in Guangzhou, Guangdong province. The four will tee off at this week's Guangzhou Open on Thursday. Provided to China Daily

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2019-07-17 07:54:39
<![CDATA[Whitaker's defensive genius made him an all-time great]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/17/content_37492491.htm Pernell Whitaker, an Olympic gold medalist and four-division world champion who was regarded as one of the greatest defensive fighters in boxing history, died after being hit by a car in Virginia on Sunday night.

He was 55.

The driver of the car remained on the scene, and police said they were investigating the circumstances of the death.

Whitaker's "Sweet Pea" nickname fit him perfectly. He was a master of hitting and not getting hit, a slick southpaw who slipped in and out of the pocket and rarely gave an opponent an opportunity to land a clean shot.

He won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles - one of nine US boxing champions that year - and made his pro debut on national television.

He advanced quickly, and was fighting for a major title by his 17th fight, a loss to Jose Luis Ramirez that he would avenge the next year.

But Whitaker was also known as the victim of one of boxing's worst decisions - a draw that allowed Julio Cesar Chavez to remain unbeaten in their welterweight showdown before a crowd of more than 60,000 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, in 1993.

Four years later, Whitaker was on the losing end of another difficult decision against Oscar De La Hoya in Las Vegas, a fight many ringsiders thought he won.

"When you see the list of greatest robberies in boxing history they are usually No 1 and No 2," said Kathy Duva, Whitaker's longtime promoter. "And he's on every list of the top 10 fighters of all time, too."

Whitaker was a champion in four weight classes, winning his first one with a 1989 decision over Greg Haugen at lightweight, in a professional career that spanned 17 years.

He finished with a record of 40-4-1 and was voted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

Whitaker's style was unique and effective, a hit-and-don't-get-hit strategy that was later adopted by a rising young fighter named Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Whitaker and Mayweather never met in the ring, but Whitaker won a decision over Mayweather's uncle, Roger, in 1987.

Still, it was those two controversial decisions that defined his career more than anything.

The first came against Chavez, the Mexican great who was unbeaten in 87 fights when he and Whitaker met in San Antonio.

Whitaker came out in his trademark style, confusing and frustrating the champion.

Chavez stalked Whitaker throughout the fight, but Whitaker wasn't there to be found for the most part. When he traded punches with Chavez, he seemed to get the better of the Mexican.

Ringside statistics showed Whitaker landing 311 punches to 220 for Chavez, while throwing 153 more.

But when the decision came down, it was a draw that was roundly criticized throughout boxing.

"He would stand in the pocket and make everybody miss and frustrate the hell out of them," Duva said. "He said it was the most beautiful feeling in the world, to hit the other guy and not get hit."

Whitaker also lost his mega fight against De La Hoya, despite bloodying his opponent and seemingly out-boxing him over 12 rounds in their welterweight title fight.

A poll of ringside writers showed the majority thought Whitaker won, and he thought so, too.

"Of course I won, but that really doesn't matter," Whitaker said. "As long as the world saw it, then the people can say who won the fight. I should have gotten 10 out of 12 rounds. It was a shutout. For 12 rounds, he took punishment, he took a beating. He can have the title, but we know who the best fighter is."

Whitaker's last big fight came near the end of his career, when Felix Trinidad scored a unanimous decision in their welterweight title fight at Madison Square Garden.

Former heavyweight champion George Foreman wrote on Twitter that Whitaker was one of the greats in the art of boxing.

"When I first saw Sweet Pea in training camp, it was like watching a cat with boxing gloves," Foreman said. "He had the best balance I'd ever seen in a boxer."

Duva, whose Main Events company promoted all his fights, remembered Whitaker as being as sweet as his nickname. She said he was generous to a fault with a large group of family members.

Whitaker made millions in the ring-$6 million for the De La Hoya fight alone - but Duva said he had little left in the end.

"He wasn't a spender. He was very modest," she said. "But he was supporting an awful lot of people for a long time."

A native of Norfolk, Virginia, Whitaker battled alcohol problems throughout his adult life, Duva said. He also served time in prison after violating his probation in 2003 on a conviction for cocaine possession.

Associated Press

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2019-07-17 07:54:39
<![CDATA[Warming up for cold reality]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/17/content_37492490.htm China's Olympic hopefuls are getting head start on new season of challenges

China's preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics show no sign of slowing down in the midsummer heat, with top athletes embracing rigorous physical training to make the offseason count.

Running 3,000 meters a day doesn't seem quite relevant for fine-tuning curling skills, nor doing tire flips to help land tough snowboarding tricks. But these workouts have kept China's winter athletes busy on their mission to gain a physical head start on cold-weather regimens leading up to the 2022 Games.

Launched by the National Winter Sports Administrative Center in April, the massive training program involves 350 athletes from 14 different sports in drills designed by international physiology experts to test and improve their general strength and conditioning over a three-month period.

 

Athletes from China's winter sports teams are training rigorously in the summer heat as they work to improve their general strength and conditioning during a three-month program. Provided to China Daily

The center has hired 18 foreign trainers from traditional winter sports powerhouses, such as the United States, Finland and the Netherlands, to tailor workout, fatigue monitoring and recovery protocols to keep local athletes fit and strong for the 2019-20 season.

It has already paid dividends, highlighted by Chinese cross-country skier Wang Qiang's roller ski World Cup triumph in Beijing earlier this month.

"In winter sports we have no summer break," Gou Zhongwen, director of the General Administration of Sport of China, said last week at a competition in Qinhuangdao, Hebei province.

"Insufficient physical training used to hamper our athletes from making technical leaps in their respective sports. We shall make up for the lack of work this year in order to enter final preparations for the 2022 Games physically ready."

The contest in Qinhuangdao involved 239 athletes competing in four drills - tire flip, hexagon jump, solid ball throwing and a 3000m run - to test their core strength, agility, explosiveness and aerobic endurance.

Although the routine might seem as simple as a school PE test, it helped shed light on the fitness barriers each athlete has to overcome, said Isaiah McBride, an American strength and conditioning coach.

"Just looking at all the drills today, they are hitting on a lot of different physical characteristics such as strength and balance," added the Minnesota native, who is working with China's freestyle aerials team.

"You can get a good feel for where each team and athlete is at just because they are able to test every ability very quickly with these four drills."

As one of China's strongest snow sports teams, the freestyle aerials squad is carrying high hopes to snap up medals for the host in 2022. China's only Olympic gold medal on snow was won by men's skier Han Xiaopeng at the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy.

"I can tell you that being strong is a very important physical characteristic," said McBride. "To be able to handle the landing efficiently, aerial skiers need to be very flexible ...especially when they do their maneuvers as they climb the higher degrees of difficulty."

After a 50-day training program in Qinhuangdao and led by female world champion Xu Mengtao, China's aerials team has flown to Quebec, Canada, to move on to the water-jumping phase, which entails leaping off dry ramps to perform aerial tricks before landing in a pool.

"Right now, the water volume is very important so I have to make sure they are physically ready for that so they can improve their tricks by doing them repeatedly without getting hurt," said McBride.

The importance of conditioning has also seen China's elite curlers push for extra miles in endurance training, striving for consistent mental focus in long competitions on the ice.

Ba Dexin, a veteran member of China's silver-winning men's team at the Curling World Cup final in Beijing in May, said the physical toll a curling match takes is in stark contrast to the sport's leisurely play.

"We run the distance in the summer so we can be physically fresh enough to fully concentrate on each release on the ice," said Ba, a two-time Winter Olympian competing in the mixed doubles with Wang Rui (2014, 2018).

"I don't think people quite understand the physical demand for a curler to prevail at critical moments, but this is what makes the difference between the good and the great."

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2019-07-17 07:54:39
<![CDATA[Extra swagger in Spurs' step ahead of Shanghai trip]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/17/content_37492489.htm

After decades of underachievement, Tottenham Hotspur is a club on the rise.

Last term, the Londoners reached their first Champions League final and secured a fourth straight top-four domestic finish to boot.

In Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs boast one of the most coveted managers in world soccer. Stars like Harry Kane and Son Heung-min have supplied goals and global appeal, while the club's gleaming new stadium stands as a monument to its growing financial clout.

Tottenham, therefore, heads to China in bullish mood for an International Champions Cup preseason clash against Manchester United at Shanghai's Hongkou Stadium on July 25. It's part of a two-stop Asian tour that Spurs view as a way of demonstrating the team's gratitude to its burgeoning fanbase here.

"The trip is an opportunity for us to say thank you to those fans that support us from a distance and so passionately," Tottenham executive director Donna-Maria Cullen told China Daily by phone on Monday.

"We think of Tottenham as a global family, and China loves its football. So we have really found with our success on the pitch and making the Champions League final that our fan numbers have grown exponentially there."

While still shy of the sort of popularity the likes of United or European champion Liverpool enjoy in China, Tottenham has been tenacious in its attempts to engage the public on social media here.

"We were the second Premier League club to launch on Weibo and the first one on short-video platform Douyin," said Cullen.

"We've just launched on Tmall and WeChat and will also launch on Toutiao, so hopefully our fans will have greater access to our merchandise. In total, we have an online community of over 2.3 million in China.

"Our 2019 Chinese New Year campaign was the club's most successful to date, reaching 15 million fans with over 8.5 million video views.

"A new regular Weibo studio show in Shanghai was also launched, while Harry Winks became the club's third player (after Kane and Dele Alli) to launch his own personal Weibo account."

Keeping tabs on China's grassroots soccer scene is another of Tottenham's strategies here. But unlike other European clubs, Spurs aren't convinced establishing academies in China is the best way to go about unearthing the next Wu Lei.

"We don't believe in the franchise model," said Cullen. "If we send coaches out, they are the same coaches that come from our central pool. So they are the same caliber of coach that has worked with a Harry Kane or a Harry Winks when they were at the Spurs academy. That ensures a really high level of tutelage.

"We've worked with the China Youth Football Development Program for several years, so we'll be doing that again this summer, and I think an added element to this tour for us is it's the centennial year of our shirt sponsor, AIA, a company that was founded in Shanghai.

"Together with AIA, we will permanently have three of our top coaches on the ground in Asia."

Having ended its two-season tenancy at Wembley in April, Tottenham can now resume its bid for a first top-flight title since 1961 in the new 62,000-seat, multi-purpose Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which has opened to rave reviews on the site of its old White Hart Lane home in north London.

"We're looking forward to this season, having been homeless for the last two, so I think the new stadium is going to work for everyone - fans, the club, the staff and, more importantly, the players," said Cullen.

"It was always the third step in our business plan. We said we would invest in the first team, we would build a new training center, which we've done so we can attract the best talent of all ages, and that we'd then go for an increased-capacity stadium.

"You need the increase in match-day revenue to be able to compete in what is a very competitive transfer market and on the pitch, but I think the stadium does the club more than that.

"When we launched it, the launch went around the world. It's not just for football either - we'll see NFL, rugby and concerts played there, but also it's the start of something in the area in terms of regeneration."

And for any Chinese fans thinking of making the pilgrimage, the message is clear: "We'd love to see them here," said Cullen. "We had the Shanghai Supporters Group here last season and they got to meet Mauricio (Pochettino) and enjoy a match. Anyone coming out now is going to be able to take advantage of the fantastic facilities at the stadium and see the heritage that we've dressed it with."

For now, next week's showdown with United is the focus, with Cullen saying fans can expect to see Spurs' "strongest possible squad", including new club-record signing Tanguy Ndombele, who has arrived for 63 million pounds ($79 million) from Lyon.

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2019-07-17 07:54:39
<![CDATA[Digest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/17/content_37492488.htm Diving

Chen, Cao capture men's synchro title

China's Chen Aisen won his third straight world championship by partnering with Cao Yuan to take the men's 10-meter synchronized platform title on Monday in Gwangju, South Korea.

Chen, a double Olympic champion, has now won world championship gold in the event with three different partners.

He won his first title with Lin Yue in 2015, then teamed up with Yang Hao two years later.

Monday's medal was Cao's second gold in Gwangju following his victory in the men's 3-meter synchro springboard event on Saturday.

China took its overall diving tally at the FINA worlds to seven golds as Wang Han and Shi Tingmao finished first in the women's 3m synchro springboard.

Swimming

Sun tweaks training for seventh worlds

China's World and Olympic champion Sun Yang launched his seventh trip to the FINA World Swimming Championships with a training session in Gwangju, South Korea, on Monday.

"A few swimmers, not more than 10, have competed in more world championships than me; maybe Katinka Hosszu of Hungary is one of them," Sun said. "I have kept my daily training at a high level in order be standing here for my seventh worlds."

Coach Zhu Zhigen said Sun will only require abbreviated training sessions in Gwangju.

"Just to relax, adjust and maintain his condition. The idea is to be healthy and ready - that's what we're going to do here," Zhu said.

Soccer

Casillas is handed Porto coaching role

Former Spain international goalkeeper Iker Casillas has been given a coaching role at his current club Porto as he continues to recover from the heart attack he sustained during a May training session.

A statement said the 38-year-old 2010 World Cup winner will "ensure the connection between the players, the coach and management".

"I will try to do my best to help my teammates," said Casillas, adding that" (manager) Sergio Conceicao talked to me and he told me that he wanted me to stay with them, close to the players, near the younger players, because there would be a lot of changes."

Casillas joined Porto in 2015 after helping Real Madrid win five La Liga and three Champions League titles.

Delph departs City for Everton in 3-year deal

Everton said on Monday it has signed England midfielder Fabian Delph from Manchester City on a three-year deal. No financial details were released.

The 29-year-old joined City from Aston Villa in 2015. He played 89 games for City, winning two Premier League medals. He also has 20 England caps.

"When I look to bring a new player into our squad, the first thing I look for above all the other things is quality and Fabian is a player with high quality," Everton manager Marco Silva told the club website.

Delph expressed delight with the deal, adding: "Every time I have played against Everton, whether it was home or away, straight away the first thing that comes to mind when you see the fans is that they are very passionate."

Basketball

Huge extension keeps Simmons with Sixers

The Philadelphia 76ers and star guard Ben Simmons have agreed to a five-year contract extension worth $170 million, a source familiar with the situation told Associated Press on Monday.

According to the source, who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because the contract is not yet official, Simmons, 22, will make about $8.1 million next season, the last in his four-year rookie deal. His salary for the 2020-21 season will jump to about $29.3 million and rise to nearly $39 million in 2024-25.

The deal solidifies the 76ers' core for the next few seasons. All-Star Joel Embiid and Al Horford are under contract though 2023, Tobias Harris through 2024 and now Simmons through 2025.

Cavs waive Smith to stay under tax cap

The Cleveland Cavaliers plan to waive veteran JR Smith in order to stay below the NBA's luxury-tax threshold, Cleveland.com reported on Monday.

The Cavs have been unable to find a trade partner to take the 33-yearold shooting guard who is scheduled to make $15.7 million next season - of which just $4.3 million is guaranteed.

By waiving Smith, Cleveland can spread that $4.3 million over the next three years and only count $1.4 million against the cap this year. That would keep the Cavs below the luxury-tax line of $132 million.

Smith, a 15-year NBA veteran, has been with the Cavaliers since January 2015 and helped them win their first NBA championship in 2015-16.He has averaged 12.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in 971 career games (395 starts) with New Orleans (2004-06), Denver (2006-11), New York (2011-15) and Cleveland.

Agencies - Xinhua

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2019-07-17 07:54:39
<![CDATA[Epic end to England's wait]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/16/content_37492111.htm LONDON - Jos Buttler threw his gloves into the sky and wheeled away in celebration. Jofra Archer slid on his chest across the Lord's turf and beat the ground. Joe Root punched the air as he was lifted up by a teammate.

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Host crowned world champ after 'most ridiculous game ever'

LONDON - Jos Buttler threw his gloves into the sky and wheeled away in celebration. Jofra Archer slid on his chest across the Lord's turf and beat the ground. Joe Root punched the air as he was lifted up by a teammate.

After more than nine stomach-churning hours, the first super over in Cricket World Cup history, and one of the most extraordinary overs ever played, England ended its agonizing 44-year wait to be world champion of the sport it invented.

"The most ridiculous game of cricket to have ever been played," was how wicketkeeper Buttler summed up a crazy World Cup final against New Zealand on Sunday that had pretty much everything.

A sporting contest for the ages finished with England winning courtesy of a tiebreaker that few inside the home of cricket had likely ever heard of, or even understood: Boundaries countback.

That was because England and New Zealand - both bidding for a first Cricket World Cup title - couldn't be separated after the regulation 50 overs a side (each team scored 241) and then a nerve-shredding super over (both teams scored 15) played in early evening sunshine in northwest London.

In the end, England prevailed because it hit a total of 26 boundaries - fours and sixes scored across both the 50 overs and the super over - compared with New Zealand's 17.

"The guys are shattered," New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said. "It's devastating. Tough to swallow."

It was a slow-burner of a final that reached an astonishing crescendo at Lord's.

Chasing 242 to win after New Zealand won the toss and posted 241-8, England slumped to 86-4 before a partnership of 110 between Buttler (59) and New Zealand-born Ben Stokes (84) ensured the match would go to the wire.

Needing 22 to win off the final nine balls, Stokes smashed the ball high from Jimmy Neesham toward long-on. Trent Boult took the catch but fell back and stood on the boundary cushion before he had time to release the ball to teammate Martin Guptill nearby. Guptill signaled a six should be awarded and the umpires obliged.

The target to win was 15 heading into the last over, bowled by Boult. After two dot balls, Stokes slogged a six over midwicket. Nine runs were needed off three balls.

Stokes smashed the next ball into the leg side and set off to run two. As he sprinted back to the striker's end, he dived and stretched his bat out in a desperate bid to reach the crease - only for the ball, thrown in by Guptill, to strike Stokes' bat and deflect all the way to the boundary.

Confusion reigned but England had just scored six runs - two run, along with a four. Three required off two balls.

"That was a bit of a shame, wasn't it?" Williamson said.

Stokes was still on strike and he pushed down the ground, setting off again for a two to ensure he kept the strike. Adil Rashid was running to the non-striker's end and was easily run out, but Stokes had the strike and England had an extra run.

In an almost exact replica of that next-to-last delivery, Stokes toed a yorker out to long-on and again attempted to run two. This time it was Mark Wood run out at the non-striker's end, but again England collected the single to take the match to the rare super over.

Fans had their hands around their heads in amazement. A rule explainer came up on the big screen.

After a 10-minute break, Stokes and Buttler - the first two of England's three designated batsmen - came back out and hit 3, 1, 4, 1, 2 and 4 between them.

The Black Caps had to score more than England because of their inferior boundary count. And thanks mainly to a six by Neesham, they needed two off the final ball.

Guptill, who seemed to be involved in all of the match's defining moments, hit it into the legside. He scrambled back for a second run that would have earned the Black Caps their first world title but Buttler showed extraordinary composure to collect Jason Roy's throw from deep midwicket and remove the bails with his left hand.

England's players erupted in celebration - but still had an agonizing wait before the decision was confirmed by the TV umpire.

"OUT," read the message on the big screen after Guptill was shown to be three yards (just under three meters) out of the crease.

"I can't believe what has happened," England all-rounder Chris Woakes said. "I can't get my head around it."

There were so many players to be celebrated for their contributions, particularly Stokes.

A year ago he was cleared of affray following a street brawl on a night out in September 2017.

That deflection for four off his bat will be replayed and replayed.

"I said to Kane Williamson," Stokes said, "that I'll be apologizing for that for the rest of my life."

Humiliated in a group-stage exit at the 2015 World Cup, England ripped up its ODI gameplan and started all over again with a new coach, a new director of cricket and a new mindset.

Four years later, they are on top of the world in the most unforgettable way.

Associated Press

 

From left: England's Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes and Liam Plunkett celebrate their Cricket World Cup final victory over New Zealand at Lord's on Sunday. England won due to a superior boundaries total after a super over failed to separate the teams. Peter Cziborra / Action Images Via Reuters

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2019-07-16 07:30:32
<![CDATA[Rejuvenated Dou hits stride]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/16/content_37492110.htm After 10 straight starts with little success, China's Dou Zecheng headed home to Dallas last week for a little rest and recuperation.

The strategy paid off for the 22-year-old, who responded with a 6-under 66 on Sunday to finish tied for seventh at the Korn Ferry Tour TPC Colorado Championship in Berthoud, Colorado.

Dou's compatriot Zhang Xinjun finished tied for 10th at 11-under 277, marking his seventh top-10 finish (including two wins) of the season.

Zhang continues to lead the regular-season points list ahead of Robby Shelton and Scottie Scheffler of the US.

"I rested really well and came back more energized," said Dou, who finished at 12-under 276. "It was a great way to finish. I'm feeling good going into the rest of the season. I hadn't had a good week since the first one, but this sets me up pretty well."

Dou has struggled since winning the season-opening Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, missing 11 cuts in 15 starts since. Before Sunday, he hadn't finished higher than a tie for 35th.

In Colorado he rebounded from an opening 72 to reel off three straight sub-69 rounds.

On Sunday, Dou made the turn at 1-under then birdied three times in a four-hole stretch on Nos 12 through 15 before capping his round with a 128-yard chip for an eagle at No 17.

The finish is projected to move Dou to No 23 on the points list, with the top 25 players at the end of the season earning a PGA Tour card.

Dou credited the round to playing partner Scott Harrington, who shot a 28 on the front nine with six birdies and an eagle.

"Scott was playing really well and it got me going," Dou said. "Even though I shot 1-under, that normally wouldn't be that bad, but compared to me he was beating me by seven strokes. That's pretty bad. I just wanted to get close to him and I did."

Winning birdie

Argentina's Nelson Ledesma led after every round, but on Sunday it looked like he would be caught.

Scott Harrington made a wild charge. Dawie van der Walt came out of nowhere. Harry Higgs, Michael Gellerman and Erik Barnes were all in with a shot on the final two holes, but the day ended as it started, with the final group of Ledesma and Australia's Brett Coletta going head-to-head for the title.

Ledesma missed a birdie putt on No 17 that would have all but sealed the win, and Coletta nailed his birdie to tie it heading to 18.

Both smoked their drives into the middle of the fairway before Ledesma set himself up 20 feet from the hole. Coletta had a putt from the fringe and left it short.

The victory earned Ledesma a check of $108,000.More importantly, he's earned his PGA Tour card for next season - a dream started by watching PGA Tour player Andres Romero who is from the same hometown in Argentina.

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2019-07-16 07:30:32
<![CDATA[Djokovic determined to add adoration to acclaim]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/16/content_37492109.htm WIMBLEDON, England - Novak Djokovic has vowed to convince fans he is not public enemy No 1 even if he surpasses Roger Federer as the greatest Grand Slam title winner of all time.

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'Cold' Wimbledon champion hoping to convince fans he deserves more love

WIMBLEDON, England - Novak Djokovic has vowed to convince fans he is not public enemy No 1 even if he surpasses Roger Federer as the greatest Grand Slam title winner of all time.

The world No 1 saved two match points to clinch his fifth Wimbledon title and 16th major on Sunday, shattering Federer's bid to become the oldest Grand Slam champion in the longest final ever contested at the All England Club.

Despite being outplayed by the 37-year-old Swiss for long stretches of their marathon match, the top seed emerged victorious 7-6(5), 1-6,7-6(4), 4-6, 13-12(3).

At four hours and 57 minutes, it was the longest Wimbledon final, settled by a final-set tiebreak for the first time.

Djokovic also became the first man in 71 years to win the title from match points down.

He is now just two behind Rafael Nadal and four off Federer's all-time Slam record of 20 titles.

Djokovic has time on his side, being a year younger than Nadal and more than five years younger than the legendary Swiss.

After Sunday's epic triumph, Djokovic revealed he was able to turn the overwhelmingly pro-Federer Centre Court crowd of 14,000 in his favor by training his mind.

"I like to transmutate it in a way: When the crowd is chanting 'Roger'I hear 'Novak'," said the 32-year-old Djokovic. "It sounds silly, but it is like that."

Djokovic has spent the best part of his career in pursuit of Nadal and Federer and attempting to seduce fans skeptical of his character.

For many, he is viewed as too cold, too insincere, too calculating and prone to fads.

Federer and Nadal, by comparison, are treated almost reverentially.

"It's hard to not be aware of the crowd. You have that kind of electric atmosphere, that kind of noise," said Djokovic.

"Of course, if you have the majority of the crowd on your side, it helps. When you don't, then you have to find it within."

Djokovic said he won't get distracted by the pursuit of Federer's record haul, fully aware that he has time on his side.

"Whether I'm going to be able to do it or not, I don't know," he said.

"I'm not really looking at age as a restriction of any kind for me. What I said on the court, I really meant it: Roger really inspires me with his effort at his age.

"It just depends how long I'm going to play, whether I'm going to have a chance to make historic No 1 or win more Slams."

When asked if he sees himself still playing at 37, Djokovic said the motivation to be treated with the same respect is strong.

Eventually, hearing screams of 'Let's go, Novak, let's go' will be more than welcome.

"Hopefully in five years' time I can be hearing the same chants," he said.

Most consistent

Djokovic is by far the most consistent of the 'Big Three' at the Grand Slams.

Since the start of 2015, he has won nine of the 19 majors played, with Nadal winning four and Federer three.

The other three have been split between Stan Wawrinka (two) and Andy Murray (one).

On Sunday, Djokovic saved match points in the 16th game of the deciding set, which ran for over two hours and was settled by a 12-12 tiebreak for the first time in a singles match at the tournament.

It was another display of stunning mental fortitude.

He has been in similar predicaments in the past against Federer - saving two match points in both of his semifinal victories over the Swiss at the 2010 and 2011 US Opens.

"I just try to never lose self-belief, just try to stay calm and focus on trying to get the ball back, which wasn't serving me very well today.

"But in the most important moments, all three tiebreaks I guess, I found my best game."

Djokovic was off the pace for large parts of the final, only carving out his first break points in the eighth game of the fourth set.

Federer won more points in the match - 218 to 204 - and broke serve seven times compared to three. He fired 25 aces to 10 for Djokovic and 94 winners to the Serb's 54.

"I thought I could have played better. But the one thing that probably allowed me to come back and save match points and win this match was mental stability," said Djokovic.

Principal nemesis

Looking at the bigger picture, there's also this takeaway from Sunday: Nadal's status as Federer's principal nemesis has been well-documented and much-examined over the years - which is a small part of why Friday's semifinal victory for Federer was fraught with meaning.

But it's now time to discuss Djokovic's edge over Federer.

Djokovic has won their past five meetings and holds a 26-22 advantage overall head-to-head, including 10-6 at Grand Slam tournaments and 3-1 at Wimbledon.

By the reverberating sound of things around the old arena on Sunday, a vast majority of the spectators were pulling for the popular Federer.

While one person cried out, "We love you both!" - a fitting sentiment, given the high quality and unceasing shifts in momentum - the "Come on, Roger!" chants far outnumbered shouts for his opponent.

Yes, they roared for Federer's ace on the very first point and when he sent the final to a fifth set.

They even applauded when he kicked a ball to a ball boy or when he brought his racket around his back to make meaningless contact after Djokovic served a let.

But in the end, it wasn't enough.

Agencies

Novak Djokovic in action during his victory over Roger Federer in their record-setting men's final at Wimbledon on Sunday. At four hours and 57 minutes, it was the longest final ever played at the All England Club and was settled by a final-set tiebreak for the first time. AFP 

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2019-07-16 07:30:32
<![CDATA[Xu-perman soars into history books]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/16/content_37492108.htm Chinese table tennis marvel Xu Xin - aka 'Xu-perman' - wears championship crowns, not capes.

On Sunday, Xu became the first player to win three ITTF World Tour titles in a row by overwhelming Ma Long's conqueror, Wang Chuqin, 4-0(11-6, 11-8, 11-4, 11-8) in the Australian Open final in Geelong.

World No 1 Xu's feat was all the more remarkable given that he had just over an hour to prepare for the match following his epic seven-game semifinal against Germany's Patrick Franziska.

"I felt like I was still wearing my championship crown from last year and I think this helped," said Xu after becoming the first player to retain a singles title Down Under, where on and off the court the 29-year-old was greeted by cheers, smiles and selfies.

"People felt happy that I came back here and I am very happy that they cheered for me. It is quite extraordinary that I could get such treatment overseas. I was enjoying it.

"You get into good shape through competing, one match after another. I did not think about winning three straight championships. I just do what I need to do, to be active and switched on."

Xu could hardly be more switched on right now. The master of the penhold grip is arguably the greatest entertainer in the modern game, with his triumph Down Under following successes in Japan and South Korea.

Xu, also known as 'The Cloudwalker', seemed superhuman during his marathon 4-3 (11-7, 5-11, 11-6, 6-11, 6-11, 11-9, 12-10) semifinal victory over Franziska - saving a match point in the final game of a contest that will go down as one of the most gripping encounters of recent times.

Prior to his narrow loss to Xu, Franziska produced a superb fightback against Sweden's Mattias Falck over seven scintillating games, and shocked China's world No 3 Fan Zhendong 4-2 in the last 16.

Franziska wasn't the only player to provide Xu with a scare. Brazil's Hugo Calderano threatened to come back from 3-0 down to take the match to the wire, before Xu eventually prevailed 4-2.

Teenager Wang beat his boyhood idol, reigning Olympic and world champion Ma in the semifinals, but Xu made his final triumph over the teenager look routine.

Wang's 4-2 (11-8, 6-11, 11-4, 8-11,11-7, 11-8) defeat of Ma was another significant milestone for the 2018 Youth Olympic champion.

Despite being pegged back twice during the match, he always looked in control of his destiny as he reached the final of a platinum World Tour tournament for the first time.

Another Olympic medal could await the youngster in Tokyo next year.

Earlier on Sunday, another Chinese teenager, Sun Yingsha, beat Olympic and world champion Ding Ning 4-0(11-1, 11-9, 11-9, 11-9) to win the third tour crown of her budding career.

The 18-year-old avenged her semifinal defeat to Ding at last week's Korea Open.

It was Ding's second straight final loss after missing out on gold in Busan to Chen Meng. Nevertheless, the 'Queen of Hearts' confirmed her status as queen of comebacks after holding her nerve to fight back from 3-2 down against Japan's Mima Ito in their absorbing semifinal (11-3, 8-11,11-4, 8-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8).

Xu wasn't the only player rewriting the record books. South Korea's Jeoung Young-sik and Lee Sang-su became the first ever pair to defend a men's doubles title at the Australian Open, needing just under half an hour to complete a 3-0 (11-6, 11-8, 11-6) victory over China's Ma and Lin Gaoyuan in Saturday's final.

In the women's doubles, China's Chen Meng and Wang Manyu followed up their win in Korea last week by claiming a second successive title with a 3-1 (11-6, 11-3, 8-11,11-6) triumph over Koreans Jeon Ji-hee and Yang Hae-un.

The mixed doubles title went to Hong Kong duo Wong Chun Ting and Doo Hoi Kem.

ITTF.com contributed to this story.

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2019-07-16 07:30:32
<![CDATA[Digest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/16/content_37492107.htm Basketball

Shao leaves Lynx to rejoin Team China

The Minnesota Lynx of the Women's National Basketball Association terminated the contract of Chinese forward Shao Ting on the weekend.

Shao, who played the WNBA preseason with the Lynx in 2017 and signed with the club earlier this year, appeared in five of 16 games this season, averaging 1.2 points and 1.2 rebounds in 5.4 minutes per game.

In a posting on its website, the club said Shao will return to the Chinese national team to prepare for the Sept 24-29 FIBA Women's Asia Cup in Bengaluru, India.

To fill Shao's roster spot, the Lynx activated All-Star center Temi Fagbenle off the injured list and she was expected to rejoin the team for Sunday's home game against the Phoenix Mercury.

Giannis says he's got much more in the tank

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, the NBA's reigning MVP, said on Saturday he believes his game has a lot of room to grow.

"A lot of people say, 'You are the MVP, you are one of the best players in the league, you are so dominant'... but I think I can get better. I think I am at 60 percent of my potential. I just want to be better," the 24-year-old Greek forward told ESPN.

"If I am in the same situation again in the East Finals, I will react better, play the game better and execute better."

Antetokounmpo averaged career highs with 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists last season as the Bucks won an NBA-best 60 games in regular season and started the playoffs 10-1 before losing four straight to the Toronto Raptors in the East Finals.

Diving

Zhang and Lu strike gold in worlds debut

Zhang Jiaqi and Lu Wei won the women's 10m platform synchro event at the World Swimming Championships in South Korea on Sunday as Chinese divers continued their dominance by claiming their fifth straight gold medal.

Zhang and Lu dominated from the onset, racking up 345.24 points.

"It was the first worlds for both of us, so we were very nervous indeed. We encouraged each other before and after each dive. That helped a lot," said the 15-year-old Zhang.

Malaysian veterans Mun Yee Leong and Pandelela Pamg won silver with 312.72 points. Samantha Bromberg and Katrina Young of the United States finished third with 304.86 points.

Earlier, 17-year-old debutant Wang Zongyuan claimed China's fourth gold when he won the men's 1m springboard with 440.25 points.

Cycling

Tour of Qinghai Lake spurs sport's growth

The Tour of Qinghai Lake celebrated its 18th anniversary this year, with the high-altitude race spearheading cycling's growing popularity in China.

The race in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau region, initially hindered by a lack of development and harsh weather conditions, has been transformed into a world-class event largely through the efforts of Qinghai Province to overcome logistical difficulties.

As one of Asia's two continental races, the Tour of Qinghai Lake also stands out as the world's highest altitude cycling event.

China also stages a number of other high-profile races, such as the Tour of Hainan Island, the Tour of China, the Tour of Tai Lake, the Tour of Fuzhou and the Tour of Guangxi.

Soccer

Griezmann has 'pity' for Atletico response

French forward Antoine Griezmann said on Sunday that Atletico Madrid's angry response to his transfer to La Liga rival Barcelona is "a pity".

Barcelona last week paid the 28-year-old's $135 million release clause to sign him to a five-year deal, prompting a furious response from Atletico, which said the amount was "insufficient".

"Regarding Atletico, it's a pity. I went to see them on purpose so they would not be caught off guard and could prepare for the future," Griezmann told a media conference at Camp Nou. "You have to accept it."

Algeria faces Senegal in final of Africa Cup

Riyad Mahrez rifled in a stoppage-time freekick to earn Algeria a dramatic 2-1 victory over three-time champion Nigeria in the semifinals of the Africa Cup of Nations in Cairo on Sunday.

Algeria will face Senegal, which edged Tunisia 1-0 in the other semi, in the final on Friday. The match will be a repeat of a group-stage clash Mahrez's team won 1-0.

"We are very happy to be in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations because it is something very special," said Manchester City's Mahrez.

China Daily - Xinhua

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2019-07-16 07:30:32
<![CDATA[Good things come to those who wait]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/15/content_37491696.htm For Viv Kean, and thousands of tennis fans like her, the Wimbledon experience always starts in a tent.

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No matter how long, Wimbledon's quintessential queues are something to enjoy, not endure, as Associated Press reports

For Viv Kean, and thousands of tennis fans like her, the Wimbledon experience always starts in a tent.

In a small park across from the tournament grounds, they gather to camp out for days. The reward is being woken up at 5 am by stewards, then spending hours standing patiently in line to get herded into the All England Club.

And hopefully, after all that waiting, a ticket to Centre Court.

That's life in "The Queue," a decades-old Wimbledon tradition that has grown to become its own phenomenon, as much a part of the tournament as strawberries and cream.

Kean, a 69-year-old from northwest London, wouldn't miss it for the world.

"I've been coming every year since 1983, except one," Kean said, sitting in a camping chair outside her tent. "I spent my 50th birthday and my 60th birthday out here. It's almost more about the queue than about the tennis these days."

Kean was among more than 2,000 people who showed up to Wimbledon Park last Friday night hoping to be there early enough to get tickets to one of the top courts. Not for Saturday's third-round matches - but Monday's fourth round.

For some of them, even that wasn't early enough. Only about 500 tickets are made available most days for each of Centre Court, No 1 Court and No 2 Court. Several thousand passes for the smaller courts are also available each day.

Alex Leonidis and Ryan Kirkman, two 23-year-olds from London, were around 250th in line - meaning they were assured of succeeding in their goal of seeing Roger Federer on Centre Court.

"Last year we camped out one night and got tickets to No. 1 Court. But we're willing to push it to three for Federer," Leonidis said.

"He's a must for us," Kirkman added. "These days you never know when he might retire. It could be our last chance."

The queuing tradition at Wimbledon dates back to at least the 1920s. Even Richard Lewis, who is now the chief executive of the All England Club, remembers spending a night on the street as a teenager in the 1960s.

"I was 13 at the time. Queued up on the pavement," Lewis said. "Saw Rod Laver play Tony Roche in the final."

For decades, the queue itself started just outside the gates of the All England Club, with people pitching their tents on the sidewalk. But as the numbers grew, so did the problems.

"It was great, but it wasn't terribly comfortable for people, and potentially the stewards might have got hit by cars," chief steward Nick Pearce said.

So in 2008, the whole queue was moved to Wimbledon Park, where thousands of people gather each day and get organized into neat rows based on what time they arrived. Food stalls and portable toilets are set up nearby and each morning the long line of people snakes along the outskirts of a picturesque golf course, through a security check, across a covered pedestrian bridge over Church Road and into the tournament grounds.

It's such a large operation that more than 300 stewards - most of them volunteers - work around the clock to make sure it runs as smoothly as possible.

"If you go there, you first think, 'God this is absolute chaos, it's just a mass of people,'" Pearce said. "But when they get up they walk in a well-orderly line."

For many, it's the most British thing imaginable.

"We love a good queue," Leonidis quipped.

But there's more to it than just standing in line. People pass the time by playing games and engaging in impromptu contests. Even a tennis tournament is held every year.

In 2012, they even organized their own version of the London Olympics in the park. One of the events was to set up a gazebo as fast as possible, while blindfolded.

There are some strict guidelines for proper behavior, though, all laid out in the official guide to queuing that is handed out by the All England Club. Don't leave your place in the line for more than 30 minutes, for instance - a rule that is meant to ensure people don't arrive early to get a numbered queue card before leaving to return at a later time. The stewards rarely have to intervene, though, because it's a system that largely polices itself, Keane said.

"We try in the nicest possible way to police it and manage it," he said. "It's not the easiest thing at times, I have to say. But given we might get 120,000 people through the queue over the fortnight, we get a relatively small number of incidents that we have to resolve."

For some, the queue can even be the birthplace of lifelong friendships.

Kean was only a few tents away from Julia Saunders of Norfolk, who has also been coming for decades. She was on hand when Cliff Richard sang on Centre Court in 1996, and remembers American Andy Roddick coming over to spend time in the queue one year when he was still playing.

Kean and Saunders have become good friends through the years and make sure they arrive at the same time.

"We only see each other once a year, but then it's like it was yesterday," Kean said.

Wimbledon prides itself on being one of the few major sports events where fans can still show up on the day and buy tickets at the gates. However, in an age of online resellers and corporate packages, it faces increased pressure to find a more modern way of selling all of its seats. But Lewis said there are no plans to change the queuing system any time soon.

"I think it's a good example where technology could change things if you wanted to, but you'd think very carefully before you did away with it because it does seem to be so popular," Lewis said. "It's almost a rite of passage. I wouldn't do away with it in a hurry, I must admit."

That's good news for Kean, who has plans to celebrate her 70th birthday in the queue as well.

"As long as I can get out of the tent without someone having to haul me out," she said, "I'll continue to come."

 

People queue for admission to the Wimbledon championships at the All England Club in south London on July 3. The long wait for tickets has become part of the fabric of the tournament, with many people relishing the process and the culture and tradition attached to it. Reuters

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2019-07-15 07:50:49
<![CDATA[Humble Halep proves an ever-popular winner]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/15/content_37491695.htm LONDON - Simona Halep handed Serena Williams her most lopsided Grand Slam final loss to clinch the Wimbledon title on Saturday and there will be few more popular champions.

Humble and grounded, Halep had already showed incredible resolve to win the 2018 Roland Garros title having lost all three of her previous Slam finals.

She further endeared herself by announcing before that Paris final that she "would be OK" if she lost again, as "no-one would have died".

Halep, 27, is only the second Romanian woman to win a major after Virginia Ruzici claimed the 1978 French Open. Ruzici is now her manager.

Before her 2018 Roland Garros breakthrough, Halep had suffered three agonizing defeats when one set from glory at the majors.

She lost the 2014 Roland Garros final to Maria Sharapova and the 2017 championship match in Paris after leading Jelena Ostapenko by a set and 3-0.

Her third came earlier in 2018 against another perennial underachiever on the biggest stage, Caroline Wozniacki, in a marathon match in sweltering conditions at Melbourne Park.

Halep became world No 1 in August 2017 and her 2018 French Open win over Sloane Stephens made her the first player to win her first Grand Slam title while holding the top ranking.

A huge star in her home country - Halep has appeared on the front cover of Romania's Elle magazine and opened a restaurant called 'SH'in her hometown of Constanta, which lies on the Black Sea.

"The fact that I am able to win maybe will give an inspiration also to Romanians, the kids, that it's possible, even if you come from a little country, it's possible if you work and if you believe."

One of the main reasons why Halep had to wait so long to lift a major title was her relative lack of power when compared to the game's other big stars.

But she has found compensation. "I'm fast, though, no?"

Halep, who Sports Illustrated once described as an 'anti-diva', now has $33 million banked from her career.

But she has not been seduced by the glitter of the sports world.

On Saturday, she made a point of thanking her mother for inspiration while light-heartedly winning the hearts of the All England Club.

"My mom said when I was 10 that if I want to do something in tennis I have to play in the final at Wimbledon," she told Centre Court.

"I had lots of nerves, my stomach wasn't very well.

She added: "I said at the start of the tournament that one of my motivations was to win and become a lifetime member of the club!"

Her folksy charm has also seduced hardened reporters.

She only follows two people on Twitter - one is former coach Darren Cahill and the other, bizarrely, is three-time world snooker champion Mark Selby.

"I have no idea how you play snooker. But I appreciate him," said Halep.

"He's been in Romania a few times. I met him. Also I have a snooker ball signed from him. That's why I follow him."

Halep has also expressed a childlike delight in the British royal family, confessing she's a particular fan of the Duchess of Cambridge.

"Kate's my favorite," said Halep as the object of her regal affection looked down from the Royal Box.

But there still remains a steely streak, illustrated by the decision she made 10 years ago to undergo breast reduction surgery.

"It's the weight that troubles me. My ability to react quickly, my breasts make me uncomfortable when I play," she once said.

"I didn't like them in my everyday life, either. I would have gone for surgery even if I hadn't been a sportswoman."

Agence France - presse

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2019-07-15 07:50:49
<![CDATA[Serena bites back at King's 'celebrity' criticism]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/15/content_37491694.htm LONDON - Serena Williams delivered a stinging rebuke to fellow tennis legend Billie Jean King who said she should focus on tennis and stop behaving like a celebrity and fighting for equality.

King - who was no stranger to fighting for equality for women players when she was starting out - may feel justified after Williams was played off the court in the Wimbledon final on Saturday.

She was beaten 6-2, 6-2 in less than an hour by Simona Halep, who had lost on nine of the 10 previous occasions she had played the American.

King had said that running a business, looking after a child and battling for equality for women and ethnic minorities, could largely all be dealt with by Williams' staff while she focused on tennis for a couple of years.

The 75-year-old told the BBC earlier in the tournament that Williams should give up being a celebrity for a year: "Just stop all this insanity."

Williams, though, hit back on Saturday.

"The day I stop fighting for equality and for people that look like you and me will be the day I'm in my grave," said the 37-year-old in response to the question.

King later replied, telling Serena via Twitter: "I would never ask anyone to stop fighting for equality.

"In everything she does, Serena shines a light on what all of us must fight for in order to achieve equality for all."

On court, Saturday's blowout was the third time in the past year that Williams has failed to take the chance to equal Australian Margaret Court's Grand Slam titles record of 24 - her stated goal on returning from maternity leave.

Losses to Angelique Kerber in last year's Wimbledon final and then a meltdown in the US Open final against Naomi Osaka, after which she says she went to see a therapist, were painful enough.

Nevertheless, Williams refused to accept that the record may elude her.

"I don't know," she said. "I mean, I don't really think about it. I just go out there and play, see what happens.

"That's kind of how I've been in my whole career. You know, I never thought about time in general.

"I feel like I'm just really on this journey of just doing the best that I can, playing the best that I can when I can."

'Wake up!'

Her leaden-footed and lethargic performance - she only really got fired up in the first game of the second set yelling at the ground when she won a point - provoked one spectator to cry out: "Wake up, Serena!"

"Actually I did hear it," she said. "I definitely wasn't asleep. But I did hear it.

"Actually sometimes the comments help me, whether they're good or bad. It didn't bother me at all."

Williams, who had her close friend Meghan, Duchess of Sussex cheering her on from the Royal Box, said she did not know if as age advances she is getting more tense about winning another Grand Slam.

"Now, you know, in my 20s - I'm always expected to win, but it's a different circumstance for me," she said.

"Seems like every Grand Slam final I'm in recently has been an unbelievable effort to get there.

"It would be interesting to see how it would be under different circumstances. The only thing I can say is today I think my opponent played unbelievable."

Agence France - presse

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2019-07-15 07:50:49
<![CDATA[Xin turns the tide for China with historic open water gold]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/15/content_37491693.htm GWANGJU, South Korea - With childlike glee, Xin Xin ran into the arms of her coach and asked: "Am I good?"

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'Dream' triumph ends nation's wait for world championship title in discipline

GWANGJU, South Korea - With childlike glee, Xin Xin ran into the arms of her coach and asked: "Am I good?"

"Perfect!" replied her mentor, Jin Hao. And he was right. Xin had just claimed gold with a superbly timed tactical effort in the women's 10km open water race at the FINA World Swimming Championships in Yeosu, South Korea, on Sunday.

It was the first ever open water gold medal for China at the championships.

"I didn't expect I could be the champion. I just thought I should swim as easy as possible in the first part of the race by following the big stars. I wanted to keep more energy for the last lap, and I did it!" said the 22-year-old.

After finishing fourth at the 2016 Rio Olympics and 11th at the Budapest worlds two years ago, Xin was overjoyed to finally have gold around her neck and clinch qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the process.

"It was my dream to become the world champion. It was my great honor to raise our national flag and listen to the national anthem on top of the podium!" said Xin, who was a little unprepared for the medal ceremony and had to borrow the correct clothes from a teammate.

"Maybe I should bring my medal ceremony suit all the time. I believe that I can swim better and better in the future.

"My goal before this competition was to qualify for the Olympics," added Xin, who will be competing in her third Games in Tokyo.

"My strategy today was to relax and save energy in the first half, and to keep clear in my mind and also to maintain my confidence."

A total of 64 swimmers competed in the race, with the top 10 finishers qualifying for Tokyo 2020.

Against an experienced field in warm conditions, Xin was content to follow the leading pack for most of the race. She timed her breakaway on the last lap to prefection to finish in one hour 54 minutes 47.20 seconds, pipping Haley Anderson (1:54:48.10) of the United States to gold by just 0.90 seconds. Italy's Rachele Bruni finished third (1:54:49.90).

Olympic champion Sharon Van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands was 10th. Two-time world champion Aurelie Muller, of France, was 11th.

Xinhua

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2019-07-15 07:50:49
<![CDATA[Davis sure life with LeBron 'all about winning']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/15/content_37491692.htm LOS ANGELES - Anthony Davis' year of uncertainty finally felt finished when he stood in the Los Angeles Lakers' training complex and proudly held up his new gold jersey while LeBron James looked on approvingly.

After months of upheaval around his departure from the New Orleans Pelicans, the superstar forward is looking forward to years of success and stability on the West Coast.

Sure, Davis knows the Lakers are rarely stable, and championships are the only success this franchise understands.

The six-time All-Star can't wait for the challenge of winning big in the Hollywood spotlight.

"The most difficult part for me was just not knowing," Davis said on Saturday. "When it was announced that I was being traded, I don't want to say it was a relief, (but) it was something that I'd thought about for a long time. Obviously it was tough to leave the city I'd been playing in for seven years, but I think it was best for me.

"When I found out I'd been traded to the Lakers, I realized it was an unbelievable opportunity for me," he added. "To be here with a wonderful organization, and then to be able to play alongside LeBron and the players that we have now... to get the opportunity to do that and come here and play for an organization that's all about winning, and winning championships, and that's the only goal, I think that was the biggest thing for me."

The Lakers formally acquired Davis this month in one of the biggest moves of the NBA's eventful offseason, but this courtship has been happening for much longer. Davis became determined to leave New Orleans last season, and Los Angeles made an in-season run at Davis before eagerly blowing up its young core to get a second game-changing star to play alongside James.

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka introduced Davis as "the most dominant young basketball player in the world".

"There is no more complete basketball player in the game," Pelinka added. "There is nothing he can't do. He can shoot. He can make plays. He can defend 1 to 5.He can protect the rim. He can handle the ball. His dedication to his craft is unparalleled. To sit here next to him and think he's going to be on our team and he's going to be a pillar in this franchise for many years is just something we're incredibly proud of."

The Lakers gave up Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and a slew of draft picks to land Davis one year before he could become an unrestricted free agent. While Pelinka clearly expects Davis to sign a long-term deal to stay with the Lakers, Davis didn't make a declaration of his intentions right away.

"Right now, my focus is on this year, and trying to help this organization become a championship team," Davis said.

Davis' new jersey will bear a No 3 after his plan to take his usual No 23 from James fell through thanks to rules involving jersey supplier Nike, who had already begun planning for next season with James in the No 23 shirt. Davis will go back to the number he wore in elementary and middle school, although he jokingly said the denial of No 23"was pretty hurtful".

Davis and James have been kept up to speed on Pelinka's machinations to build a strong roster around them. Davis strongly endorsed the signing of DeMarcus Cousins, his former teammate in New Orleans - and not just because Davis prefers to play as a power forward instead of a center.

"I like playing the 4," Davis said to a laughing coach Frank Vogel. "I'm not even going to sugarcoat it. I don't like playing the 5, but if it comes down to it, coach, I'll play the 5."

Pelinka said the Lakers signed Cousins and re-signed JaVale McGee precisely so that Davis wouldn't wear down his body guarding centers.

Davis was asked about load management, and he dismissed it: "I'm playing. I'm 26 years old. I love the game of basketball. I'm ready to play."

Associated Press

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2019-07-15 07:50:49
<![CDATA[Digest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/15/content_37491691.htm Basketball

Simmons 'doubtful' for World Cup campaign

Philadelphia 76ers ace Ben Simmons is set to skip Australia's World Cup campaign in favor of preseason preparations, ESPN reported on Saturday.

The Melbourne-born star's agent, Rich Paul, told ESPN he was "doubtful" to play for Australia in the FIBA World Cup, which tips off in China on Aug 31.

Simmons, 22, had initially indicated he planned to play in the tournament, stating in May he was "looking forward to representing...Australia in the upcoming @FIBA World Cup in China".

However ESPN reported that Simmons, who also pulled out of the 2016 Olympics, wants to concentrate on the 2019 NBA season.

Australia's squad is still likely to be laced with other NBA players though, including Joe Ingles, Andrew Bogut, Patty Mills and Aron Baynes.

Golf

Jiangsu water town to stage minigolf worlds

One of China's most famous water towns, Zhouzhuang in Jiangsu province, will host the 16th Minigolf World Championships from Oct 23-27 this year.

It is the first time the championships are being staged outside of Europe, with over 300 golfers from over 40 teams across the world expected to take part.

The championships, authorized by the World Minigolf Sport Federation (WMF), will feature four events - individual stroke play, individual match play, group stroke play and mixed stroke play.

Golfers will compete on both concrete and felt 18-hole courses, with the same scoring systems of regular golf applying.

Minigolf originated in the United States in the early 1900s and grew in popularity globally, according to Gerhard Zimmermann, president of the WMF.

Zimmermann said he hoped that a Chinese governing body for the sport will be established within two years, with national championships then possibly taking place here in three years' time.

Soccer

'Fit-again' Neymar in cryptic Barca video

Neymar says he has recovered "almost 100 percent" from the ankle injury that ruled him out of Brazil's victorious Copa America campaign.

The world's most expensive player was speaking on Saturday in Sao Paulo ahead of his belated return to his club Paris Saint-Germain on Monday.

PSG was upset at Neymar's no-show at the resumption of training last week, an absence that fueled speculation of his possible departure back to Barcelona.

And later on Saturday he added fuel to the fire over a possible return to Camp Nou when he posted on Instagram a mischievous 10-second video of himself, a Barcelona shirt, his father, and a quote from the Bible: "No weapon turned against you will prosper."

Both the player and his father had insisted he had prior agreement from PSG to stay in Brazil to help his foundation, the Neymar Institute.

Icardi out of Inter tour as Juve rumors swirl

Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi has left the club's preseason camp in Switzerland and will miss its forthcoming Asian tour, the Serie A giant announced on Saturday, as speculation surrounding his future intensified.

The Argentine, who was stripped of the captaincy last season amid a protracted contract dispute, has been linked with a move to Juventus, which Inter faces in a July 24 preseason match in Nanjing.

Icardi was the joint top scorer in the 2017-18 Serie A campaign with 29 goals, but managed just 11 last term having spent 53 days on the sidelines after losing the captaincy.

"@MauroIcardi will today return to Milan from our training camp in Lugano," Inter said on Twitter.

"The club and the striker have come to this decision by mutual agreement. Icardi will continue his preseason training over the next few days and will take no part in our summer tour of Asia."

Ice Hockey

Bumper Blues deal for Cup hero Binnington

The Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues agreed to a two-year, $8.8 million deal with goaltender Jordan Binnington on Saturday.

Binnington was one of the players who was instrumental in the team's rise from worst team in the NHL to eventual champions, all in the span of a few months. He had a 2.46 goals-against average in the playoffs and became the first rookie in NHL history to record 16 wins in a single postseason.

"I'm happy to get this deal done with the St. Louis Blues," Binnington told the team website. "To the city of St. Louis, thank you for welcoming me in and trusting me to do me. I'm excited and motivated to keep doing my job and keep bringing success to the St. Louis Blues organization."

By agreeing to terms on Saturday, Binnington and the club avoid an arbitration hearing.

"We are pleased to have Jordan signed for two more years," general manager Doug Armstrong said in a statement. "His play was outstanding and we look forward to seeing him continue to be a major contributor for our team."

Motor Sports

Alonso free to race for other team: McLaren

Fernando Alonso would be free to race for a rival team in Formula One and remain an ambassador for McLaren, according to team boss Zak Brown.

The two-time world champion Spaniard has been linked with a return to F1 in recent weeks with Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko revealing that he had been informed by Alonso's agents that the Spaniard was "available" for 2020.

Brown confirmed that Alonso could race for another F1 team.

Alonso raced in Formula One from 2001 to 2017 and spent his last four seasons with McLaren. He has also raced in IndyCar for a McLaren-affiliated team.

"Fernando remains an ambassador for us," he said. "We have a great relationship and we are talking to him about racing programs with us that are not related to F1."

Xinhua - Agencies

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2019-07-15 07:50:49
<![CDATA[Leonard, George might be short-term signings]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/12/content_37490857.htm Two superstars officially join Clippers, but they could be gone in just two years

LAS VEGAS - Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are now officially with the Los Angeles Clippers - moves that bring them back to their native Southern California.

It might not be forever, however. Both players can become free agents in just two years.

The Clippers completed their blockbuster trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, acquiring George for guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, forward Danilo Gallinari and five first-round draft picks.

"Paul George is one of the greatest two-way players in our game," Clippers president Lawrence Frank said at a media conference to introduce the pair.

"He is both an elite scorer and a relentless defender whose versatility elevates any team. When you have the opportunity to acquire a contributor of his caliber, you do what it takes to bring him home."

George can become a free agent again in 2021 if he chooses to exercise that option, and Leonard will be in the same position.

A source with knowledge of the situation said the deal Leonard signed on Wednesday is a three-year max that could be worth nearly $110 million, though the third season is optional for the player.

The source spoke to Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Clippers did not release contract terms.

Before Leonard decided he was leaving the Toronto Raptors last week, he and the club had talked about a four-year max worth $141 million. But this move, which would make Leonard a free agent after his 10th season, gives him the maximum amounts of flexibility and future earning power.

"This is a historic moment for our organization and our fans," Frank said. "We are grateful and honored that Kawhi Leonard has decided to come home and join the LA Clippers.

"Kawhi is a peerless two-way player, a relentless worker and a natural fit for the serious, professional culture our group has established."

Leonard will cost the Clippers a lot of money. George is costing them a lot of money and a lot of picks.

The Clippers surrendered their first-round picks in 2022, 2024 and 2026, plus sent ones for 2021 and 2023 that were obtained through Miami, to Oklahoma City to complete the George trade.

Oklahoma City also has the right to swap first-round picks with the Clippers in 2023 and 2025.

"From the time that Paul and his representation made us aware of what had been transpiring and their subsequent request, our focus as an organization was identifying the best paths for our future," Thunder general manager Sam Presti said.

"Resiliency has been a staple of our city and our franchise, and this challenge provided us with another opportunity to demonstrate that." The Thunder also now has a $10.4 million trade exception.

"Our goal with this transaction was to create value both in the short and long term and help reposition and replenish the organization's future platform," Presti said.

"We are thrilled to welcome two extremely talented and efficient players in Shai and Danilo."

It's unclear if Presti is done making big moves this summer.

OKC has engaged teams in conversations about the possibility of trading All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, a source familiar with that situation told AP.

Miami is one of the teams that has been part of those talks, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the Thunder have not revealed specific details.

Presti said he wished George well.

"We are proud that Paul is a part of our history as an organization and that some of the best basketball of his career was in Oklahoma City," Presti said.

"He should be remembered fondly; we wish him and his family the best."

George averaged a career-best 28 points last season even while dealing with shoulder issues that required surgery, and the Thunder couldn't get out of the first round in either of his two seasons in OKC.

George was a finalist for both NBA MVP and Defensive Player of the Year this past season, when he led the league with 2.21 steals per contest.

Leonard is also coming off the best season of his career. He averaged a career-high 26.6 points in the regular season and was even better in the playoffs, averaging 30.5 points for the Raptors in their run to the title.

He won NBA Finals MVP honors for the second time, adding this one to the one he got as a member of the San Antonio Spurs in 2014.

"His expectation, and ours, is to contend for championships," Frank said.

Also on Wednesday:

·  Klay Thompson, who will miss part of next season while recovering from a torn ACL, signed a five-year deal to stay with Golden State for nearly $190 million - the largest free-agent one agreed to this summer.

Portland's Damian Lillard signed a $196 million extension that begins in two years, but he wasn't a free agent.

The Warriors also waived Shaun Livingston, who was part of all five of their NBA Finals teams over the past five seasons.

"He has been a tremendous credit to the Warriors organization and our community for the last five years," Warriors co-chairman and CEO Joe Lacob said of Livingston. 

·  The Philadelphia 76ers completed the signings of forwards Tobias Harris (who ended last season with Philly) and now-former Boston Celtics standout Al Horford. Both of those deals were agreed upon last week.

"We're excited to welcome one of the NBA's best frontcourt players in Al Horford to Philadelphia," 76ers general manager Elton Brand said.

"He has built his reputation around hard work and a tradition of winning, which are the same qualities that have formed the foundation of the 76ers. Al's playmaking, elite defensive talents and veteran leadership confirm why he is a crucial addition to our roster."

·  Washington completed the signing of two-time All-Star Isaiah Thomas to a one-year deal. He fills a major position of need for the Wizards, who are bracing to be without John Wall next season. 

Thomas said he's simply looking for a chance to prove himself again. Injuries have limited him to 44 games over the last two seasons.

"I want to compete. I want to win," Thomas said. "That was one of the most important things in the Wizards' meeting. I'm coming here to win. I don't know any other way. They felt the same way."

]]>
2019-07-12 07:50:03
<![CDATA[Amateur ace Wu undaunted by Open challenge]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/12/content_37490856.htm He's only 22, but Brandon Wu has already made some golf history.

Now he's looking to make some more.

The graduate of California's Stanford University and the No 6-ranked amateur in the world is in Britain this week to practice for the July 18-21 British Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.

Coupled with his appearance at last month's US Open at Pebble Beach, where he made it to the final round, the 6-foot, 170-pound Wu is the first amateur since 1967 to qualify for the two majors in the same year.

"I first picked up a golf club at age 7 in my hometown of Danville, California, and started to learn the game from my dad," Wu said on Tuesday from Pinehurst, North Carolina, where he was playing in an amateur tournament.

"My family (mother Zhang Xiaobing, a native of Beijing, and father Wu Yichun, from Guangzhou) moved back to Beijing when I was 8, and I started playing a lot of junior events there.

"I got my first taste of the big stage by playing the HSBC Pro-Am in Shanghai when I was 12, and it continued after we moved back to the United States the following year."

Wu went on to attend prestigious Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts, where he won a partial golf scholarship to Stanford.

"I always wanted to go to Stanford, so when they started recruiting me it was like a dream come true," he said.

In May, he finished 3-0 in match play to lead Stanford, alma mater of Tiger Woods, to its ninth National Collegiate Athletic Association team title over the University of Texas.

Wu, incidentally, has met Woods twice - once at Stanford and another time at a Nike-sponsored tournament.

On June 16, behind Pebble Beach's 18th green, Wu was presented with his degree in mechanical engineering after finishing 35th at the US Open.

US Golf Association president-elect Stu Francis, himself a Stanford graduate made the presentation.

"It's an awesome feeling, such a cool experience," Wu said.

While in the UK, Wu plans to play the Muirfield, North Berwick and Royal County Down courses before setting up at Royal Portrush on Monday morning.

In September, in what likely will be his last amateur event before turning pro and joining the PGA Tour, Wu is expected to play in the venerable Walker Cup at Royal Liverpool.

He is considered the top candidate to captain the 10-man US team, which will compete against a combined squad from Britain and Ireland.

"The Walker Cup is definitely one of the pinnacles of amateur golf," said Wu, who considers iron play and putting his main strengths.

"I'm a little superstitious in preparing for big events, but I'm going to just try to keep playing well to add to my resume."

That includes the British Open.

"I'm pretty carefree but also quite excited to be in the Open. I'll just go out there and try to do my best and not worry too much about how it ends up," he said.

]]>
2019-07-12 07:50:03
<![CDATA[Roger, Rafa set for 40th tango]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/12/content_37490855.htm Federer, Nadal squaring off at Wimbledon for first time since '08

WIMBLEDON, England - All these years later, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will meet again at Wimbledon for the 40th installment of their terrific rivalry - and first at the All England Club since their memorable 2008 final.

"Such a long time," Nadal said.

They moved on to the semifinal showdown everyone's been thinking about since the tournament draw by each overcoming a tough opening set on Wednesday.

 

Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates his Wimbledon quarterfinal victory over Sam Querrey of the US at the All England Club in London on Wednesday. Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP

A 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Kei Nishikori was No 2-seeded Federer's 100th win at the All England Club, the first man to reach that total at any Grand Slam tournament.

Not long after that ended on Centre Court, No 3-seeded Nadal finished off Sam Querrey 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 at No 1 Court.

Friday's other semifinal will draw far less attention: No 1 Novak Djokovic, the defending champion, against No 23 Roberto Bautista Agut, who has never advanced this far at a major.

Looking ahead to what comes next, Federer said: "Obviously, I know people always hype it up."

Why shouldn't they? These are, after all, two of the greatest players in the sport's long history, winners of more Grand Slam titles than any other men.

Of Federer's 20, a record eight came at Wimbledon. Of Nadal's 18, 12 came at the French Open, where he routed Federer in the semifinals last month.

That gave Nadal a 24-15 career edge head-to-head, including 10-3 at the Slams.

But Roland Garros is on the red clay that Nadal rules. This one is on Federer's territory: grass.

This is their fourth matchup at Wimbledon - and first that won't come in the final. Federer beat Nadal for the 2006 and 2007 titles, but Nadal won the championship 11 years ago in a 9-7 fifth set as dusk descended.

"Well, we have a lot of information on Rafa, and so does he about us," Federer said. "So you can either dive into tactics and all that stuff like mad for two days - or you're just going to say: 'You know what? It's grass-court tennis and I'm going to come out there and play attacking tennis.'

"If he can defend that, that's too good. And if he can't, well, then, that's good for me."

It is the 13th time that the Big Three of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are in the semifinals at a major tournament together. On 11 of the previous occasions, one of them claimed the title.

There were some shaky moments for all of them on Wednesday.

"The beginning was brutal," Federer said.

The eighth-seeded Nishikori jumped out to an early edge by breaking in the very first game, enough to give him that set.

But Federer quickly turned things around in the second, conjuring up whatever he wanted, exactly when he wanted it.

His approach shots were beyond reproach. His volleys vibrant. His returns were timed so well, and struck so violently, that one knocked the racket out of Nishikori's hands.

And Federer's serve? Sure, he faced break points, but he never allowed 2014 US Open runner-up Nishikori to convert another.

"Overall, I'm just very happy how I'm hitting the ball," Federer said. "Feel good off the baseline, too, which is clearly going to be important, maybe, for the next match."

Nadal, of course, is still a ball-retrieving, shot-whipping machine at the back of the court.

Still, he had some trouble closing out the first set against Querrey, an American ranked 65th who was trying to reach his second Wimbledon semifinal.

Nadal wasted three set points at 5-3, then another before getting broken when serving for it at 5-4. Again serving for that set at 6-5, he erased a trio of break points for Querrey before holding - and finally was on his way.

"I definitely think he's a guy that can win it again," Querrey said.

Djokovic, eyeing a fifth trophy at the All England Club and 16th overall at Slams, used a 10-game run to transform what was shaping up as an even, entertaining quarterfinal into a 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 romp against 21st-seeded David Goffin.

"I felt like I managed to dismantle his game," Djokovic said.

Down an early break, the defending champion grabbed control midway through the opening set and never let go.

Djokovic did to Goffin exactly what he does to so many men on so many surfaces and at so many tournaments: He takes their best shot, deals with it, then wears them down.

"I sincerely hope that my opponent feels like he's got to work twice as (hard as) against any other opponent to win a point," Djokovic said.

Bautista Agut, a first-time Grand Slam semifinalist, is supposed to be on the Spanish island of Ibiza right now, having a bachelor party with a half-dozen pals ahead of his November wedding.

Instead, he will play on after beating No 26 Guido Pella of Argentina 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Federer and Nadal are surely pleased to still be around, too.

Everyone else will be thrilled to see them trade strokes on Centre Court once more.

"I know they haven't played here in a long time. It seems a little more exciting, more special, that they are playing at Wimbledon, maybe, rather than outside of a Grand Slam," Querrey said.

"I'll be watching on Friday."

 

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2019-07-12 07:50:03
<![CDATA[Chinese training helping Uruguayan]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/12/content_37490854.htm

MONTEVIDEO - Victor Rostagno dreams of becoming the first Uruguayan gymnast to bring home an Olympic medal.

In a country where soccer rules, Rostagno found that the key to his Olympic ambitions lies thousands of kilometers away, in China, where he has been a frequent visitor over the last three years.

"I learned incredible new techniques in China," Rostagno told Xinhua this week.

"The instructors show you a small movement and your technique changes a ton."

Rostagno first visited China for a three-month training session in Changsha, Hunan province, in 2016, a trip that produced dramatic and historic results as he went on to capture Uruguay's first medals in the sport.

"After my first trip to China, I won medals in the floor exercise and the vault at the Pan American Gymnastics Championships and a gold medal in the floor exercise at the South American Artistic Gymnastics Championships," said the 20-year-old.

A year later, he made more history by securing Uruguay's first medal in artistic gymnastics at the South American Games in Cochabamba, Bolivia - a silver in the vaulting competition.

More than 300 Uruguayan athletes have traveled to China since 2016 to receive high-performance technical training as part of a cooperation agreement signed between the two governments.

In addition to learning new techniques, training in China can help an athlete take his skills to another level because of the lack of distractions, reckons Rostagno.

"It is not the same to be training here (in Uruguay) on a schedule and be worried about other things. In China, you can train full-time and just worry about the training," he said.

The impact has also been seen "in other sports that did not win medals but saw an improvement in their performance, such as judo or table tennis," he added.

Rostagno is mainly training in the floor exercise and vault, but also venturing into the individual all-around category because Uruguay's lack of a complete team makes qualifying for the Olympics more complicated.

"There are very few of us who practice this sport in Uruguay," he said.

Rostagno is currently preparing to compete at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru later this month.

]]>
2019-07-12 07:50:03
<![CDATA[Four-wheeled fun zooms into view]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/11/content_37490415.htm Fitness-based training sport wins new fans, charms public during exciting World Cup debut in China

If you're looking for a new way to freshen up your fitness routine, the four-wheeled fun of roller skiing might be just the thing.

The sport, a summer training staple, zoomed into the spotlight at its World Cup series opener in Beijing's Olympic Park last week and was an instant hit.

After witnessing a surprise Chinese victory in one of the professional races at the three-day International Ski Federation meet, an intrigued public took part in an open race for amateurs, which was predictably packed with plenty of laughs ... not to mention stumbles.

Organizers are confident the sport will catch on among urbanites.

"It's a great way to encourage more people to try winter sports and eventually realize the goal of having 300 million Chinese involved in ice and snow exercise activities leading up to the 2022 Winter Olympics," said Ding Dong, executive deputy director of the National Winter Sports Administrative Center.

Wang Qiang broke Scandinavian supremacy at the meet by finishing first in the men's 22.7km.

His unexpected victory, China's first FIS World Cup roller skiing title, was welcome news for government efforts to boost grassroots participation in winter sports ahead of the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

Roller skiing's accessibility - equipment is relatively cheap, and the sport can be enjoyed on any hard surface and by all age groups - fits China's ambition to expand participation in winter sports even in the nation's snowless southern territories, Ding added.

Long practiced by a handful of Chinese professional skiers as part of their summer training, roller skiing first grabbed the public's attention last July at an amateur race on the hot and dry highlands around Baiyin in Gansu province.

Eleven cities have been selected by the winter sports authorities as part of a pilot program to offer training and equipment to the public, especially in schools, facilitated by Norwegian ski wax producer Swix.

Plans are afoot to add another 29 cities in the future.

"Skiing in general is a technically challenging sport to learn, but on roller skis it's much easier to learn the basics in a safer and more cost-effective way," said Ni Shoujun, deputy secretary general of the Beijing Skiing Association.

"We had first-time learners of all ages, from 9 to 60, who managed to roll on the track during the open session. It speaks volumes."

Jilin city, a skiing destination in Northeast China's Jilin province, has added roller skiing to physical education curricula in 30 primary and secondary schools, involving more than 10,000 children.

"It helps lay the foundation in quantity and we believe it can translate into quality when we draft junior talent for the elite program in the near future," said Tian Haiyan, vice-president of Jilin Municipal Sports School.

China's growing interest in cross-country skiing has impressed some of the best in the sport.

Norway's three-time Olympic champion Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo, who won the 200m and 1.5km sprints at the World Cup meet, hailed Beijing's effort to introduce the warm-weather training method to the masses.

"I think it sends a good message that this sport can be for anyone," said the 22-year-old, who won three gold medals (1.4km classic sprint, 4x10km relay and team sprint) at last year's Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea.

"I think it's important to see that it's good for people's health - not necessarily competing, but just viewing it as an exercise. It's important to bring this concept to China."

Klaebo also hailed his win in Beijing as an important stepping stone in his bid for more Olympic glory at the 2022 Games in the mountains around co-host city of Zhangjiakou, Hebei province.

"I hope this race helps prepare me for the 2022 Winter Olympics. For sure I am going to do what I can to push my limits in 2022 and probably come home with more of these," Klaebo said while holding his World Cup golds.

]]>
2019-07-11 07:29:09
<![CDATA[China's World Cup team warming to Summer League task]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/11/content_37490414.htm LAS VEGAS - China's national team came to the NBA Summer League looking for education.

They're learning plenty - and have already claimed a victory.

Summer League is essentially several preseason games for Team China, which is in Las Vegas to get ready for the FIBA World Cup, which will take place in China from Aug 31 to Sept 15.

Team USA is the top-ranked team in the world and the favorite to win the World Cup for the third straight time.

Fans in basketball-mad China are already eager for the tournament. The national team's 84-80 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday was a sure sign of progress.

"There's high expectation, so we've got to be ready and we've got to raise the pressure," Team China coach Li Nan said earlier on Monday.

"Not just the players, also the coaching staff. We need to concentrate on our details, do preparations now, concentrate on our stuff."

Among the challenges for the Chinese so far in Las Vegas: Getting used to the speed and strength of the league. Li is urging his players to start becoming tougher mentally.

"It's so fast. It's a different level," Li said. "The contact, we've never seen this before. The rules are different. It's hard to play this tournament."

The Chinese (1-2) lost their first two games in Las Vegas. They fell by 41 points to Miami last Friday, but looked much better in a 17-point loss to Sacramento on Saturday.

They trailed by six in the opening minutes against Charlotte on Monday, then took the lead late in the first quarter and held it the rest of the way.

"We're still improving a lot," Li said. "We improved a lot since we came here. In the first game we weren't ready for the physicality, the fast game.

"The second game, on a back-to-back, we started realizing some things."

The players China brought to Las Vegas represent the bulk of what will be the nation's World Cup roster.

Longtime NBA player Yi Jianlian is expected to play in the World Cup, but he's not playing in Las Vegas because of an injury. Guo Ailun, one of the more talented Chinese players, didn't play against Miami. He scored 20 points against Sacramento and had 12 more against the Hornets.

"The intensity of the game here is really high," Guo said through a translator before Monday's game. "It's much stronger than in China. The pace is really a challenge."

In group play at the World Cup, China will take on Poland, Venezuela and the Cote d'Ivoire. Based on FIBA rankings, it's not a particularly strong group, so it's not unreasonable to expect China to make at least the tournament's second round.

Li believes the level of Summer League teams may even exceed what the Chinese see in group play.

"I think they're better than the other teams in the group. We're trying to play to win these games and we'll use them to have confidence to face the other opponents."

  ]]>
2019-07-11 07:29:09
<![CDATA[Juve going the extra mile on China trip]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/11/content_37490413.htm Italian giant plans additional stop with Nanjing game

As if seeing Cristiano Ronaldo strut his stuff in another installment of the fabled Derby d'Italia wasn't enough of a treat, Italian giant Juventus has an additional surprise up its sleeve for its Chinese fans this summer.

With superstar CR7 in tow, the Bianconeri are raring to put on a good show and test a batch of major new signings when they take on Serie A rival Inter Milan at Nanjing Olympic Sports Center on July 24.

It will be the second stop on the Turin team's preseason tour of Asia and part of the International Champions Cup mini-tournament.

Last week Juve revealed to China Daily that it is poised to announce another "big event" in another Chinese city as part of efforts to increase its commercial clout and satiate its growing fanbase here, four years since it last played in China.

"It's quite a long time since we last toured in Asia so we would like to do a fantastic preseason tour for fans, media and sponsors," Juve's chief revenue officer, Giorgio Ricci, told China Daily last Friday.

"We think this is a very strong opportunity to reach a wider audience because, playing against other big teams like Inter, it's really important for us to double the exposure of each match. The combining effect with the opponent is to reach a broader audience.

"Apart from the match in Nanjing we are working with our main sponsors to organize another big event in another big city. We can't disclose the details just yet but I can say that in addition to the ICC match in Nanjing, Juventus fans will have the opportunity to see the stars not on the field but at least at another big event.

"Cristiano is part of the team so of course he will be there with all the other players."

Ronaldo, as always, will be the main attraction on the tour, which also takes the team to Singapore and South Korea. However, a slew of new summer signings have added an extra layer of intrigue.

Welsh star Aaron Ramsey has arrived from Arsenal, French midfielder Adrien Rabiot has landed from Paris Saint-Germain, veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has returned from PSG for a second stint and coveted young Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt is widely reported to be close to a move from Ajax that could be completed by the weekend.

Juve is hopeful the new-look squad, under the stewardship of former Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri, can finally end its 23-year wait to be crowned kings of Europe.

"When Juve plays any game, playing well and playing to win are the priorities," said Ricci. "Even if it's a friendly match, it's really important. The ICC matches are part of the preparations for the season, to test the players. We will be there with our full squad.

"The only players that will not take part in the tour are the ones who have been at the Copa America (such as Argentina's Paulo Dybala).But all the other available top players will be there. The match in Nanjing is quite special because we will be playing against one of our big Italian rivals, so we consider this a very important event to promote the best of Serie A football in China.

"It's a really important match to engage media in Italy, but also to promote Serie A on the Chinese market."

Like all big European clubs, Juve is now locked in to boosting its presence on Chinese social media, and cites growing numbers of followers on all the main platforms as evidence of the inroads it's making here.

"Consider that worldwide over the last year we had an increase of more than 15 percent in terms of fans, and in the Asia-Pacific region the increase was 18 percent. In the Asia region we are growing faster than in the other parts of the world," said Ricci.

"We have around 60 million fans in China now. Our digital fanbase is around 3 million on the various platforms like Weibo, WeChat, our new Douyin account and TouTiao. We have 19 fan clubs in China - consider that there were only five in the 2017-18 season."

Establishing a stronger physical presence in China is also high on Juve's agenda. The club already has five soccer academies here, in Nanjing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Zhuhai and Meishan, with plans to open more.

"We want to establish our presence permanently within the Asian region with the goal of expanding more academies and being present with all our engagement projects," said Ricci.

"Following the path of the Chinese government with its strong commitment and investment in growing football, we think that it's really important for us to be present here and to give, on one hand, our support on the technical side, and on the other hand, to create new projects with the academies to engage more kids and their families."

 

Cristiano Ronaldo (left) will be joined by new signing Adrien Rabiot when Juventus takes on Inter Milan in an International Champions Cup preseason match in Nanjing on July 24. Reuters / AP

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2019-07-11 07:29:09
<![CDATA[Schmeichel happy to offer United a Brit of sage advice]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/11/content_37490412.htm

Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel is urging his former team to return to its roots and build for the future with British players at its core.

"We have to look at who we are, go back to our values, to our culture and start building the team from what we traditionally always have done, from within our local community," the 55-year-old former goalkeeper told Xinhua during a visit to Beijing on Sunday.

United has been overtaken on the pitch by Manchester City in recent years, with the last of the Red Devils' 20 English Premier League titles coming in 2013.

Last term, United finished sixth in the standings, 32 points behind champion City and outside the Champions League places.

Much of United's success over the past 20 years was achieved with a core group of British players, such as David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes.

Schmeichel, who won five league titles and a Champions League trophy as one of the pillars of those great Alex Ferguson-managed squads, hopes United can once again look to homegrown talent under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

"It's nice to have those players because they give new inspiration and new ways of thinking. I think the club has always been more successful with a core of British players," said the Dane.

Schmeichel is sure his former Old Trafford teammate Solskjaer is the right man to lead United out of its current mire.

"Ole is very different from a lot of managers; he's a very quiet lad who always infuses good energy into the environment," he said.

"Ole is also a guy who has a vision to build what needs to be built now. He has the personality that can get people on board. He's got an educational side to him, which is going to be very important now. And he's got a clear direction. He knows precisely what he wants to do, and I like his direction and I support it fully."

Schmeichel always provided a big vocal presence on the pitch as he directed his defense between the sticks, and he reckons the modern game is lacking in such dominant personalities.

"I think football today is too silent. There's a lot of focus on how you play (at the expense of) developing personalities, but I think personalities are hugely important in football," he said.

Schmeichel's son Kasper has also forged a successful career as a goalkeeper, winning the 2016 Premier League title with Leicester City and representing Denmark at last year's World Cup.

But despite rumors that Kasper might be set to replace current United custodian David de Gea, who continues to be linked with Real Madrid, Schmeichel senior expects both players to remain where they are.

"I'm absolutely sure that David de Gea will not leave. He'll stay at the club. For Kasper, he's in a really good place with a really good manager on an interesting team that should finish in the top four next year," he said.

This is the second time Schmeichel has visited China, and he expressed the hope that more Chinese players will soon feature for teams in top European leagues, just as his former Manchester City teammate Sun Jihai did.

"The support and the hunger for football is very apparent here in China, so to have players also coming across to Europe on a more regular basis would be incredible," he said.

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2019-07-11 07:29:09
<![CDATA[Refueling on the fly is crucial]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/10/content_37490062.htm Tour de France riders taking more scientific approach to the art of munching while moving

BRUSSELS - On the Tour de France, there are two types of eating.

There's food for pure pleasure - including rich Belgian chocolate - consumed with gusto by those who follow the three-week race through regions teeming with delectable edibles.

 

And there's food for fuel, gobbled hungrily on and off the saddle by the riders whose chances of success can be damaged by not eating scientifically.

Jakob Fuglsang, a 34-year-old Danish rider among the favorites to win this Tour, said he's a prime example of how understanding the role of food can make the difference between contending and seeing rivals race off ahead.

In finishing 12th on last year's Tour, Fuglsang said he repeatedly felt himself running short of energy - partly because of unbalanced nutrition.

"I felt like I had enough energy for one hour of full-out racing, and after that I was just empty, I didn't have the power that I needed," he said in a weekend interview with Associated Press.

Now, with nutritionist Marcel Hesseling advising him what, when and in what amounts to eat, Fuglsang is having a standout season.

The leader of the Astana team warmed up for his ninth Tour by winning the Dauphine stage race in June.

Regarding food-fueling, he's talking like a new man, a convert to Hesseling's diet regime "to make sure that what you burn, you also get back in".

"Now I feel that even when we come to the last hour of the race, I still have power," Fuglsang said.

Hesseling said his eating plans for Fuglsang are detailed right down to the hour for the big mountain stages that come in weeks two and three of the Tour. The exertions of scaling peaks at altitude can see a rider burn 8,000 calories per stage.

Having studied Fuglsang's training and the amount of power he generates, Hesseling said he's calculated "how much he has to eat in advance of the race, and how much he has to eat and drink during the race, so he knows exactly how much he has to eat each hour".

Fueling in the saddle includes rice cakes washed down with high-energy drinks and gels for the furious ends of stages.

But fueling has to be pleasurable, too, so riders don't get tired of the piles of food they consume for their 3,480-kilometer (2,160-mile) trek through Belgium and France.

Some are so ravenous after a day's racing that they wolf down plates of rice, pasta and other carbs almost immediately after climbing off their bikes.

Robert Gorgos, nutritionist on the Bora Hansgrohe team, said his diet plans aim to keep the riders' brains healthy, too, so they don't get bored.

For Sunday's time trial, where teams sped one after another on a 27.6 km (17.1 mile) course through Brussels, Gorgos had the team cook prepare a light meal for the riders three hours before they mounted their bikes, "so they don't lose any energy digesting and have all the energy for the short, very high-intensity" race against the clock.

Chocolate a must

On meeting someone who makes bars of chocolate for a living, the question that immediately springs to mind is: "After a time, do you get sick of eating the stuff?"

The reassuring response, firmly delivered by chocoholic chocolate-store manager Patricia Lafargue, is that it's simply not possible to have too much of a good thing.

"Every day I have to eat chocolate," she said, as she ladled molten sweet, dark scoops into a mold where the chocolate hardens into bars.

"I simply cannot cope without any chocolate. That's not possible for me."

With the Tour de France getting off to a riotous start in cycling-mad Brussels, it would have been almost criminal while here to not check out the country's world-famous chocolate industry.

Tough job, but someone has to do it. After all, one cannot live on cycling alone.

Brussels, where Stage 1 started and where, after a 194.5 kilometer (121 mile) loop south of the capital city, it also ended with a sprint finish won by Dutch rider Mike Teunissen, is choc-a-bloc full of chocolate stores.

That's somewhat nightmarish for dieters, but paradise for the sweet-toothed.

Given that Belgium is also big on fries, sold at some 5,000 "frietkot "kiosks and served with dollops of mayonnaise in paper cones, perhaps it's only natural that chocolate is big here, too, to pile on pressure on waistlines.

Confectionary is a 4 billion-euro ($4.5 billion) industry in Belgium, producing 700,000 tons of chocolate and pralines per year, according to the industry's trade group, Choprabisco.

It says that while most of the chocolate and pralines are exported, the average Belgian manages to munch through six kilograms (13 pounds) per year.

To make the bars, Lafargue first melts dark chocolate to 50C and then hand-cools it to a more manageable 32C on a cold marble table, vigorously massaging the mixture with spatulas, a process that improves the quality and texture of the chocolate once it hardens.

After pouring the fragrant goo into a rectangular mold, she sprinkles it with dried strawberries, raspberries and pistachio flakes.

Once chilled in a fridge, the bar is broken into chunks, bagged and sold. Well, most of it.

Lafargue couldn't resist a little taste of the molten stuff, leaving a tell-tale spot of chocolate on her chin. We won't tell.

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2019-07-10 07:38:24
<![CDATA[Tour legend Hinault touts young Colombian as next big star]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/10/content_37490061.htm BRUSSELS - Colombian rider Egan Bernal is young enough to surpass any of the Tour de France legends, French great Bernard Hinault said on Sunday.

The straight-talking 64-year-old's fierce competitive personality earned him the nickname 'The Badger', but he was in a relaxed and friendly mood on a sunny day at the Village de Depart in Brussels.

Hinault is the last Frenchman to win the Tour, back in 1985, when he clinched his record-tying fifth title.

He believes Bernal, the 22-year-old Colombian sensation, could surpass him.

"It's possible there will be another winner of five tours," Hinault said in an interview with AFP.

"There's Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil, me and Miguel Indurain, but there's no reason someone else won't win five.

"Look at Chris Froome, he's won four of them and let's see what condition he's in next year," Hinault said.

But Hinault was more confident another Ineos rider will be the one - not reigning champion Geraint Thomas but Bernal, even though he is yet to win a Tour.

"I believe Bernal will be the No 1 in Paris this year," Hinault said. "And Geraint won't be far behind him.

"He (Bernal) might go much further (than me) too if you think for a minute that he looks likely to win the Tour this year.

"If you start from that principle and remember that he is only 22 years old, he might go much further than any of us."

'Out to get you'

Hinault had a warning for the multi-talented Colombian, drawn from his own experience of winning a first Tour.

"Once you have won it, everyone else is out to get you," he warned.

"All their tactics are targeting you, so you have to work out a way of managing that.

"You have to think about the other riders and the attacks they might be planning.

"There are days when small teams will try to win a stage, which can be distracting. You need to know how much to give and how much not to give so as not to lose out in the big picture."

Hinault said that wearing the race leader's yellow jersey, which he did for 76 days, could also be a distraction.

"The first time I pulled on the yellow jersey was at Nancy, 41 years ago. It was the last big stage of the Tour and after that we went back up to Paris so there was no risk that time," he said.

"It doesn't change much, but you become the one who everyone wants to shoot down.

"When you wear the yellow jersey everyone knows who you are, the leader, this distinctive jersey is so eye-catching everyone automatically sees you and senses you are the leader."

Froome's chances

During a nine-year run when French riders won the Tour de France eight times, Hinault finished first, in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982 and 1985. He also won the Giro d'Italia three times and the Vuelta a Espana twice.

His five victories are officially the record, though Lance Armstrong later finished first seven times only to be stripped of his victories for doping.

Hinault said he saw no reason why Britain's Froome could not overcome the injuries he sustained in a June crash that have ruled him out of this year's race.

"He's 34 now and had a serious accident this year, so let's wait and see what happens with that next year, what condition he's in," said Hinault.

"I myself was seriously injured; I also pulled out of a Tour injured in 1980.

"I had an operation on my knee in 1983 and came back and came second the next year in 1984 and then won it the year after in 1985," he said.

"But I was much younger than Froome. He's 34, when I had my operation I was 26 and the second time I was operated on I was 29, so I think age can play a role."

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2019-07-10 07:38:24
<![CDATA[China out to send message at worlds]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/10/content_37490060.htm Title contenders head roster for upcoming meet in South Korea

Preparing for Gwangju but aimed at Tokyo, China's national swimming team is embracing the world championships in South Korea as a final test for a fruitful 2020 Olympics.

The nation's elite swimmers made their podium ambition at the FINA World Championships loud and clear on Monday, with a 43-member roster announced for the swimming segment at the biannual competition set for July 21-28 in Gwangju, South Korea.

Led by triple Olympic gold medalist Sun Yang, reigning backstroke world champion Xu Jiayu and female backstroke sprinter Fu Yuanhui, Team China is determined to reap a golden harvest against the world's best and get a major morale boost heading into next summer's Tokyo Olympics.

Sun, now training in Hong Kong on an individual program, remains the brightest hope for China, having clocked the world's fastest time in 400m freestyle (3:42.75) at the FINA Champions Swim Series in Guangzhou in April.

The Olympic champion in 200m (2016 Rio), 400m and 1,500m (2012 London) freestyle has signed up to compete in four individual events (200-1,500m) plus the team relays in Gwangju in an effort to cement his status at his seventh world championships.

Already one of the most dominant freestylers of all time, Sun continues to work on his technical refinement, particularly starts, turns and kicking. His improvements on those tiny but critical details were evident in a superb third leg during China's bronze medal performance in the 4x200m relay at last year's FINA short-course worlds in Hangzhou.

"I think my recent performances have made me believe I can achieve some good results at the world championships and the Olympics," said the 27-year-old Sun, who has won nine long-course world titles since his international debut in 2009.

Joining Sun in the Gwangju medal hunt is backstroke specialist Xu, who appeared confident of defending his 100m title during a break at the team's open training session on Monday.

"I've followed my opponents 'preparations a little bit, but it's up to whether I can bring the best out of myself for retaining the gold medal," said Xu, who became China's first male world champion in backstroke after winning the 100m in Budapest in 2017.

The 23-year-old shrugged off suggestions of pressure in Gwangju and is approaching the meet as just a major tune-up for his third Olympics in Tokyo.

"Every race is just a step forward in pursuing my dream to finish higher on the podium in Tokyo. I am confident of competing for gold in Gwangju but it won't affect my resolve to finish better at the Olympics either way," said Xu, who was beaten to silver by American star Ryan Murphy in the 100m at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Xu's world-leading mark of 52.27 this year, achieved at the national championships in March, has perhaps earned him a psychological edge in Gwangju over three-time Olympic champ Murphy and Australia's 2015 world champion Mitch Larkin.

Another men's title contender to watch is individual medley star Wang Shun, who has emerged as a legitimate challenger in the 200 IM to this year's world leader Larkin, Britain's Duncan Scott and Japan's former world champion Daiya Seto.

Wang, who just returned from a six-week training program in the United States, is drawing confidence from his improvements on speed and strength to fight for his first major long-course title.

"I've settled for bronze three times in a row (2015 and 2017 worlds and 2016 Olympics). It's time for me to change the color of the medal and I know I can do it," said the 25-year-old, who won his first 200 IM world title at the short-course worlds last December.

Spearheading the women's surge for China at the worlds are backstroke diva Fu, 50m butterfly Asian record holder Liu Xiang and double Olympic gold medalist Ye Shiwen.

Fu, who shot to stardom by bringing home gold in the 50m at the 2015 long-course worlds, has regained her pace after a long slump compounded by a shoulder injury and a lack of confidence.

The 23-year-old, who became a celebrity in China following her emotional post-final interview at the Rio Olympics, said she's come back from the brink of retirement to regain her form in the 50 and 100m events in South Korea.

"I feel like I am almost as physically and mentally prepared as I was in 2015. I've experienced the worst and I am ready to bounce back in Gwangju," said Fu, who tied for bronze at the 100m in Rio.

Liu, who finished sixth in the 50 butterfly at the 2017 worlds, expects to build her confidence with a better performance in Gwangju, while former 200 and 400 IM Olympic champion Ye (2012 London) looks set to regain her form as a medal contender in the 200m breaststroke.

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2019-07-10 07:38:24
<![CDATA['Mad Marko' brings unique mix of talent, truculence to SIPG]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/10/content_37490059.htm LONDON - Marko Arnautovic might not have the superstar status of China's biggest soccer imports, but the volatile Austrian will provide goals and drama in equal measure after completing a move from West Ham to Shanghai SIPG on Monday.

The Premier League club announced the deal for an undisclosed fee, but reports suggest the Hammers will get just $28 million for the 30-year-old after turning down a $44 million bid just six months ago when interest from China first arose.

Arnautovic was keen to go then and it showed in the diminishing returns towards the end of his time at West Ham, with just three of his 22 goals for the club coming after the January transfer window closed.

 

West Ham's Marko Arnautovic in action against Leicester City at London Stadium on April 20. The starry Austrian on Monday completed a move to Shanghai SIPG of the Chinese Super League. AP

Rather than hold onto an unhappy player with a reputation for sulking when he doesn't get what he wants, West Ham has cut its losses by allowing Arnautovic to continue a nomadic career that already included stints in the Netherlands, Germany and Italy before a six-year run in England.

Arnautovic will join forces with former Brazilian internationals Oscar and Hulk at the Chinese champion and while he may lack their global appeal, the man labeled 'Mad Marko' for his explosive antics, brings quite the reputation.

Jose Mourinho once described Arnautovic as having the attitude of a child, while Steve McClaren, his boss at FC Twente, reportedly told friends he was the "craziest" player he had ever managed.

Arnautovic, a close pal of former Manchester City star Mario Balotelli, another player happy to embrace a bad-boy tag, infuriated Mourinho when he briefly played on loan at Inter Milan.

Insulted police officer

While in Italy, Arnautovic borrowed teammate Samuel Eto'o's Bentley and it was stolen while in his possession.

"I drove it for two weeks to check whether I liked it. I was at a restaurant with friends when it was stolen. This incident affected me so badly I was unable to train," Arnautovic said at the time.

He has also cycled into a golf cart, tore a knee ligament while playing with his dog and reportedly insulted a Vienna police officer by saying: "Shut up! I earn so much I can buy your life".

While playing for Werder Bremen, he was suspended after being pulled over by police for speeding on the morning before a big match.

He had already got off to a bad start by turning up to training with 'Champions League winner 2010' printed on his boots, even though he was left off Inter's squad for the final.

Arnautovic vowed to turn over a new leaf after the birth of his daughter, just before his $2.75 million transfer to Stoke City in 2013.

"I must keep myself under control. I have a big responsibility as a father. That helps me to be more sensible," he said.

"It's better for me to just keep my mouth shut and let my feet do the talking."

Initially, Arnautovic made a positive impression at Stoke, but he angered then boss Mark Hughes by requesting a transfer when he was alerted to interest from West Ham.

After sealing a $27 million switch to the Londoners in 2017, he won the club's player of the year award with 11 goals in his debut season.

But his relationship with the club again turned sour in his second season when Arnautovic made it clear he fancied a move to China in January.

Now that his wish for a massive payday in Asia has finally been granted, there will likely be plenty of fireworks to go with his soccer.

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2019-07-10 07:38:24
<![CDATA[Shanghai tourney netting major gains]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/10/content_37490058.htm The China (Shanghai) International Youth Football Invitational kicked off on Monday as the city steps up its efforts to promote the local soccer scene.

Launched in 2015 as part of China's bid to become a powerhouse in the sport by 2050, the annual tournament features 16 teams from seven countries and regions, with a total of 32 matches being staged in the Putuo, Minhang, Qingpu and Yangpu districts until July 14.

The first match between China High School National Team and Melbourne City College of Football ended in a draw.

"It is really a good opportunity to play in a different country," said Melbourne player Jude Hardy, 16.

"I prepared for the match for roughly one month in Australia. It is my first time being overseas, and Shanghai is different from Australia. I really enjoy being here with so many people around us."

Luo Yiping, the representative of French club Villefranche Beaujolais, echoed that sentiment.

"More domestic and foreign teams are participating in this tournament, a sign that the event is increasing in influence. Besides bringing the world together through soccer, the tournament also helps with the development of national youth soccer," he said.

China's efforts to bolster interest and participation in the sport have been gaining pace.

According to the Ministry of Education, the goal of having 20,000 soccer-themed schools in the country by 2020 has already been met, with 20,218 in operation as of February 2018.

Shanghai, considered one of China's soccer strongholds, has more than 400 schools in regional and national competitions, and the number of registered student players in the city has surged from 4,500 to 30,000 over the past few years.

Co-hosted by the Ministry of Education, the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese and the Shanghai Municipal People's Government, the invitational is benefiting from the input of Shanghai's two Chinese Super League teams.

Reigning CSL champion Shanghai SIPG is now one of the organizers of the tournament while Shanghai Shenhua is also participating.

"The main goal of the tournament is to promote the overall soccer atmosphere in Shanghai and let the world know our city pays attention to the training of youth soccer players," said Cheng Yaodong, SIPG's director of youth training.

"We are more involved than before, helping to popularize and improve the tournament. As a professional club, we feel it is our duty."

Cheng reckons the emphasis of youth soccer should be on participation as opposed to achievement.

"Getting more young players and providing them with professional training and resources is key," he said.

Ten youngsters have been appointed ambassadors for the tournament in a bid to encourage others to take part. More than 360 volunteers from local colleges and high schools have also been enlisted to help.

Local authorities and supervision departments inspect schools and competition venues to ensure the successful staging of matches.

Activities such as tea ceremonies, tai chi and porcelain painting help the visiting foreign players integrate and gain a better understanding of traditional Chinese culture.

Tian Yi, the representative of Melbourne City College of Football, said: "The tournament definitely helps the cultural exchange between two countries.

"Shanghai is a city of diversity. We have showed the players around the city and visited places such as Shanghai Science and Technology Museum and Shanghai Oriental Art Center to help them better understand Chinese culture. This year, numerous activities will be hosted for cultural exchanges.

"The whole world pays great attention to soccer, which also acts as a kind of international communication. We hope the Youth Football Invitational can showcase Shanghai soccer's culture to the world."

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2019-07-10 07:38:24
<![CDATA[PSG primed for China mission]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/09/content_37489697.htm Paris Saint-Germain remains bullish on making further inroads into the Chinese market despite women's star Wang Shuang's departure from the club.

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French giant's preseason tour aims to build on success of Wang Shuang's stay

Paris Saint-Germain remains bullish on making further inroads into the Chinese market despite women's star Wang Shuang's departure from the club.

The Team China playmaker last week left the French giant to resume her career back home with one year still to run on her contract.

However, undeterred by Wang's exit, PSG is renewing its efforts to boost its Chinese fanbase with a 12-day, three-match preseason trip for its men's team to the world's most populous nation.

"China is a country which is developing rapidly in football and eager to learn from and welcome European clubs. It's a pleasure for us to come to China for the second year in a row," PSG's Asia-Pacific managing director, Sebastien Wasels, told China Daily last week.

PSG begins its Chinese tour against Suning-owned Inter Milan in Macao on July 27 before moving on to Suzhou, Jiangsu province, to face Sydney FC on July 30 and then traveling south to take on Rennes in a French Super Cup showdown in Shenzhen on Aug 3.

The Super Cup, or Trophee des Champions, played between the winners of Ligue 1 and the French Cup, will be a revenge mission for PSG after it was stunned by minnow Rennes in the domestic cup final in April.

PSG won the Super Cup's two previous Chinese editions, against Guingamp (2-0) at Beijing's Worker's Stadium in 2014 and last year against Monaco (4-0) at Shenzhen's Universiade Sports Center.

The Paris side has vowed to fly all its available superstars, including Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, to China.

"Those games are not going to be friendly matches for us. They are real tests to win the first cup for the season," said Wasels.

"We want to start the season the best way possible by bringing home a trophy, just like we did last year."

Win or lose in Shenzhen, Wang's exit is undoubtedly a blow to PSG's ambitions to expand its brand in Asia.

The 24-year-old attacking midfielder decided to terminate her two-year contract, signed last August, following Team China's elimination by Italy in the last 16 of the Women's World Cup in France.

Wang scored eight goals (including one in the Champions League) and contributed seven assists in 27 appearances for PSG.

Despite the premature end to her Paris adventure, which was reportedly because of a schedule clash between the French league and China's 2020 Olympics qualifiers, Wang made a major impression at the club.

"In one season with us, Wang really made her mark and won the hearts of all PSG fans," said Bruno Cheyrou, PSG women's sporting director.

"On the pitch, she showed her true talent, seamlessly integrating into the squad. Off the field, she has become an iconic symbol who has contributed enormously to the club's reputation in China."

An May online mini-series documenting Wang's daily adventures in Paris attracted eight million views and translated into an impressive spike in PSG's Weibo followers - jumping by 332,000 to a total of 1.65 million.

"As far as how she helped us in the brand awareness in China, it has been tremendous," Wasels said of Wang.

As a relative latecomer to the Chinese market, PSG is now focused on catching up with its major European rivals here.

"Obviously we came after the others but we believe that we are at least as dynamic as they are and we hope we can close the gap and join the top three popular clubs in the coming years," said Wasels.

Backing up those words, PSG last month signed a partnership with Chinese insurance giant Pingan Group to stage 200 trials for kids across 16 Chinese cities this summer.

Through the initiative, 50 outstanding youngsters will be selected to participate in PSG's academy program in Paris, which will include a two-week training camp and visits to the club's Parc des Princes stadium.

Both PSG and the French national team are renowned for their youth development, so hopes are high the club can help China unearth its own Mbappe.

"PSG has a strong tradition in player development and this is where we can make a difference and offer more support to the Chinese program," said Wasels.

Meanwhile, PSG opened its first fan experience zone in China last year at Shanghai's downtown Xuhui district. The area featured an indoor pitch replete with FIFA-approved artificial turf, rooftop fields, a merchandise store and a club-themed restaurant with big screens.

The club has also sponsored a Chinese e-sports team to compete in Dota 2 competitions as a way of targeting younger fans.

 

 

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2019-07-09 08:01:16
<![CDATA[Shenhua snares Italy's El Shaarawy]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/09/content_37489696.htm Italy forward Stephan El Shaarawy has agreed to join China's Shanghai Shenhua, the club announced on Monday, 10 days after it was reported the player wanted to stay at Roma.

Terms were not disclosed but Italian media reported El Shaarawy will earn a lucrative 15-16 million euros ($17-18 million) a year, while Roma will pocket a transfer fee that could reach 20 million euros ($22.5 million) according to Transfermarkt.com.

Sky Sport Italia reported in late June that the 26-year-old had rejected a move to the Chinese Super League struggler, with newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport claiming Shenhua had balked at his demands to have input into choosing the club's coach and playing staff.

El Shaarawy - nicknamed 'The Pharoah' because of his Egyptian ancestry - had only a year left on his contract with the Serie A club, having joined Roma in 2016 from AC Milan after a loan spell in Monaco.

Capped 23 times for Italy, he had reportedly sought a new deal worth four million euros a year with Roma. He scored 11 goals in Serie A last season as Roma finished sixth and qualified for the Europa League.

Shenhua is aiming to bolster its squad during the summer transfer window after slipping to 14th in the 16-team CSL, just one point above the relegation places, at the season's midway point.

The club said last week that Spanish manager Quique Sanchez Flores had resigned for "personal reasons" after just half a season in charge.

The former Watford boss has been replaced by South Korean Choi Kang-hee, who coached K-League giant Jeonbuk Motors for five years until 2018 before moving to Tianjin Quanjian and later Dalian Yifang, where he was last week replaced by Rafa Benitez.

Choi will reunite with former Jeonbuk forward Kim Shin-wook after Shenhua also said on Monday it had signed the South Korea international.

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2019-07-09 08:01:16
<![CDATA[Brazil coach Tite wants Messi to show some respect]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/09/content_37489695.htm RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazil coach Tite told Lionel Messi to show some respect following claims from the Argentina captain that the Copa America had been "fixed" so the host would win.

Brazil clinched the Copa by defeating Peru 3-1 at Maracana Stadium on Sunday, but Tite said his side had been victimized by some refereeing decisions because Messi's words had weighed on the officials.

"He has to show some respect, he must understand and accept when he's defeated," said Tite, whose side beat Argentina 2-0 in a controversial semifinal.

"We've been affected in many matches, even in the World Cup, so be very careful.

"He put a lot of pressure on because of how great a player he is.

"Everyone has their own problems and you have to be respectful."

Messi had slammed South American soccer's governing body CONMEBOL, accusing it of "corruption "after he was sent off in Saturday's third place playoff in which Argentina beat Chile 2-1.

He had also claimed after Argentina's semifinal loss that the tournament host was "managing a lot in CONMEBOL these days".

Argentina was angered that VAR wasn't used on two occasions to check the validity of its claims for penalties not seen by the referee.

Messi was then harshly sent off against Chile following a tangle with Gary Medel in which he seemed to do little, if anything, wrong.

The Barcelona star claimed afterwards he had paid for his previous criticisms.

"My words had repercussions, but you must always be sincere," he said.

Tite had his own gripe with the officiating, claiming that Peru's penalty in the final - converted by captain Paolo Guerrero - should never have been given.

"Today it wasn't a penalty. You have to be careful and show respect, as we respect others," said Tite.

Peru's Argentine coach Ricardo Gareca agreed with Tite's views on Messi.

"Messi is a voice of authority but that doesn't mean I agree with what he said," Gareca said.

Brazil midfielder Casemiro refused to be drawn on the controversy. "They can say what they want, we only talk about Brazil," said the Real Madrid player.

As Brazil players celebrated and posed for photos with the trophy, they were joined by the country's far right president, Jair Bolsonaro, a deeply divisive figure who has been accused of making racist, sexist and homophobic comments.

As he huddled with the players, some of them chanted "Legend!", as his supporters do.

His reception from the crowd was more mixed, with jeers audible above many cheering fans.

Asked about the message conveyed by his team celebrating with Bolsonaro, Tite sidestepped it.

"I'm so involved with football, I know things happen, but the way I've been brought up is that my focus is my essence," he said.

Gabriel Jesus set up one goal, scored another and was sent off in the second half.

The host took the lead after 15 minutes thanks to some brilliant skill from Jesus on the wing. The Manchester City forward bamboozled two defenders and crossed for the unmarked Everton to fire home from close range.

"In the last game I was quiet and I was very disappointed with myself," said man of the match Everton.

"I got it in my head that I had to give everything, independent of scoring. I had to sweat blood for my teammates. Our team deserves congratulations for a great game."

Peru pushed forward in the second half and was thrown a lifeline with 20 minutes remaining when Jesus was sent off.

He had been felled by Carlos Zambrano a few minutes earlier and when Jesus dealt out his revenge he was immediately shown a second yellow to follow a first-half caution for a bad tackle.

"I want to apologize," said Jesus. "I could have avoided it and I also need to grow up a lot."

But Brazil, playing in front of 70,000 rabid fans in Rio de Janeiro, had the final say when substitute Richarlison, of English side Everton, made it 3-1 with a penalty in the final minute.

It was Brazil's first major title since it won the Copa America in 2007 and the first for coach Tite, who took charge three years ago.

 

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2019-07-09 08:01:16
<![CDATA[Feng signals she's back to form]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/09/content_37489694.htm Feng Shanshan is back.

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China's former world No 1 nails down first victory in nearly two years

Feng Shanshan is back.

By holding her nerve to claim her first LPGA Tour victory in nearly two years at the Thornberry Creek Classic in Oneida, Wisconsin on Sunday, China's former world No 1 sent a strong signal that her game is rounding into shape.

Feng drained a birdie putt on her last hole for a final-round 63 and a hugely impressive 29-under total to claim a one-shot victory over Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn.

China's Yan Jing finished seven shots behind Feng in eighth.

The victory was Feng's 10th on the LPGA Tour but her first since Blue Bay in Sanya, Hainan province, in November 2017.

Ranked world No 26 before she teed off on Thursday, Feng is now hopeful she has finally halted her slide.

"Last season my ranking went from maybe No 1 to like, I don't know, 30s maybe. Then I just couldn't stop it from going down," said Feng.

"I was missing the cuts at the majors, and of course that's going to hurt rankings," added the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, who turns 30 next month.

"But what I was always thinking was I just need to get my ball striking back, because my putting wasn't that bad. My ball striking was just a little bit lost, a little off.

"I think last week my ball striking started to be a lot better. I knew that this week I would have to go low, and I was very concentrated on every shot.

"That really helped. At the end, I was lucky enough to win by one stroke, but I would say that it's a great win because I think now I've got my game back, my confidence back, and I believe I can win more in the future."

Jutanugarn, another former world No 1, appeared to be in control with a three-shot lead on the back nine.

She holed a bunker shot for an eagle on the par-4 sixth and closed out her 30 on the front nine with another eagle.

But the Thai pulled her tee shot on the par-5 15th, turning a birdie hole into a bogey that cost her momentum and the lead. In the group behind her, Feng reeled off birdies at the 13th, 14th and 16th holes, the last one a dart to two feet that gave her a one-shot lead.

Jutanugarn wasn't finished, however, with her final approach shot covering the flag and setting up birdie. But Feng had the last word.

"Before the round today, I didn't know what the others were going to do, so I was aiming for 30 under," said Feng, whose previous best finish this year was a tie for fourth at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions.

With the British Open teeing off on Aug 1 in Milton Keynes, winning her first major is next on Feng's hit list.

"My next goal is to win a major, so I think it's still not running out yet. I've still got two more chances this year, so I will go for it," she said.

"This is lot my last win, for sure. I want to win as many as I can.

"I haven't been having a good year so far. I missed all three cuts at the first three majors, so I was feeling a little bit lost.

"But I knew I was making changes to get better in the future. I was trying to gain a little distance. But after I gained the distance, then I kind of lost control about the direction.

"But starting last week I felt like my iron game kind of came back. This week I think I got everything together, which is what I said I wanted to do.

"I was just hoping to be back in the winning circle as soon as possible."

With rounds of 68-68-63-67, world No 136 Yan was justifiably pleased with her weekend's work.

"It's definitely a good sign of the work that I've been putting in," said Yan, who has never tasted victory on the tour.

"I started the year off well but then hit a couple of bumps. You need that little bit of a confidence boost to make sure you don't get dragged down with the bad performances."

Feng's 29-under was two shots shy of the LPGA record that Kim Sei-young set last year at Oneida.

South Korea's Amy Yang shot a 65 and finished in a tie for third at 25 under with American Tiffany Joh, who shot 67.

Kim Hyo-joo fired an 8-under 64 to finish alone in fifth, five shots back of Feng.

World No 1 Park Sung-hyun was tied for the lead with Feng and Jutanugarn heading into the final round, but she failed to make a back-nine charge and shot 69 for the second straight round.

Park finished in a tie for sixth with Korean-American teenager Yealimi Noh, who was trying to become just the third Monday qualifier in the history of the LPGA Tour to win a tournament.

 

China's Feng Shanshan imitates a selfie as she poses with the trophy after winning the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic in Oneida, Wisconsin, on Sunday. It was former world No 1 Feng's first LPGA title since November 2017. Stacy Revere / Getty Images / AFP

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2019-07-09 08:01:16
<![CDATA[Rapinoe fuses politics and pay to World Cup win]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/09/content_37489693.htm LYON, France - A Women's World Cup stirred by heated debates on politics, pay and technology saw the narratives fused in Sunday's final by the undisputed and outspoken star of the tournament: Megan Rapinoe of Team USA.

By opening the scoring with a penalty awarded after a video review, Rapinoe claimed a sixth goal and - thanks to three assists and playing fewer minutes - finished as the Golden Boot winner of the most-watched championship in the history of the FIFA women's tournament.

Winning the top player prize provided the pink-haired captain renowned for her individuality and activism with a platform for both after the Americans completed their title defense with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands.

The forward got to collect her scoring trophy before the main prize was handed out in Lyon, and revel in the adulation.

After the introductions of French President Emmanuel Macron and FIFA counterpart Gianni Infantino for the on-field trophy presentation, jeering and chants of "equal pay "echoed Rapinoe's campaign for more equitable prize money from the World Cup organizers and compensation from the US federation.

"A little public shame never hurt anyone," Rapinoe said with a winner's medal around her neck. "So I am down with it."

Not down with a visit to the White House, though, with Rapinoe's rejection of a post-tournament visit delivered publicly in a video that emerged during the competition.

"Megan should WIN first before she TALKS!" US President Donald Trump responded in tweet. "Finish the job!"

When the job was finished on Sunday, thanks to Rose Lavelle also scoring, congratulations came from Trump - for the entire team.

"Great and exciting play," he tweeted. "America is proud of you all!"

In the hours before the Americans won a record fourth World Cup, Rapinoe found an advocate for the pursuit of greater pay equality in the French president.

"We need to go progressively toward that," Macron said. "We should progressively converge."

That is undermined by the prize money for the men's World Cup in 2022 jumping to $440 million when the women's teams will only split $60 million in 2023.

This time, it is only half that.

Victory gave the Americans $4 million - double the amount earned four years ago - as part of a $30 million prize pot but well short of the $38 million earned by France for lifting the men's trophy last July in Moscow.

On the eve of the final, sitting in the same media conference position occupied by Infantino a day earlier, Rapinoe rebuked the head of soccer's governing body for disrespecting women as the prize-money gulf widens with the winners of the men's World Cups.

Rapinoe chose not to confront Infantino on the field.

"There was a wry smile, for sure," she said. "He knows. He did say we'll have a conversation or something. I said, 'I'd love to.'"

Rapinoe has something to be thankful to Infantino for - the introduction of VAR, which has had a disruptive debut in women's soccer as referees and players have adjusted to the new technology.

Replays confirmed Dutch defender Stefanie van der Gragt's high challenge on Alex Morgan and Rapinoe fired home from the spot for her 50th international goal.

"VAR wouldn't miss the final; it had to show up somewhere," Rapinoe said. "It has gotten a lot of stick in the tournament. There's some inconsistencies but this is the first time all these referees have actually used it. I think it's pretty good."

What has been less of a success were FIFA's efforts at attracting fans to some games.

FIFA knows it has to do more to raise attendances. The sellout crowd of 58,000 on Sunday was a rarity.

In a month when FIFA challenged the world to "Dare to Shine," efforts were dimmed by marketing mishaps around ticket promotions that saw thousands of empty seats in stadiums.

Venue choices will be scrutinized more closely with FIFA now realizing going to stronger soccer cities - rather than the likes of Montpellier and Nice - could have produced fuller stadiums.

"A lot can be done to popularize our sport a bit more, the way the men's World Cup is kind of seen as a destination even for those that aren't pure football fans," said Sarai Bareman, FIFA's head of women's soccer. "We need to do a lot more to promote the game to attract that kind of fan."

While the United States, Canada and Mexico were picked last year as joint hosts of the 2026 men's World Cup, FIFA has yet to pick the destination for its next women's showpiece in four years and the decision could be delayed again.

The FIFA Council was due to make the pick in March but Infantino said on Friday the bidding process might have to be reopened after revealing plans to expand the tournament from 24 to 32 teams.

 

Megan Rapinoe lifts her individual trophies after Team USA won the Women's World Cup final by beating the Netherlands 2-0 in Lyon, France, on Sunday. AP

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2019-07-09 08:01:16
<![CDATA[Clippers suddenly contenders as free agency enters overdrive]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/08/content_37489259.htm LAS VEGAS - Toronto said farewell to Kawhi Leonard. Miami said hello to Jimmy Butler. The Lakers finally have Anthony Davis.

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Leonard and George teaming up in Los Angeles headlines huge weekend of NBA deals

LAS VEGAS - Toronto said farewell to Kawhi Leonard. Miami said hello to Jimmy Butler. The Lakers finally have Anthony Davis.

Free agency became real on Saturday.

The four-team trade that sent Butler to the Heat - with a new $142 million, four-year contract - was one of the first big moves to get done once the league's offseason moratorium ended. But many of the other massive moves, such as Leonard's signing with the Los Angeles Clippers and the trade to have Paul George join him, remained in the paperwork stage.

Butler acknowledged that his longtime friend, fellow former Marquette star and now-retired Heat guard Dwyane Wade "may have had a little bit of something to do with" his move to Miami.

"I don't think anybody can take over the role that Dwyane Tyrone Wade Jr. had for this organization and for the game of basketball here," Butler said when asked about taking over as a leader in Miami. "I'm just fortunate and blessed enough to be able to call him a friend, mentor, role model. He's done so much for me."

There was no real worry about the pending transactions around the league: Some deals, including a few that got agreed upon very quickly when the negotiating window opened June 30, simply needed to be slotted in a certain order to make the NBA's money rules work. Others could get done after the NBA said on Saturday that the new league year was officially underway.

"I think it's going to be a really exciting season," said Portland's Damian Lillard, who wasn't a free agent and won't be for a long time after signing a $196 million, four-year extension that could keep him with the Trail Blazers until 2025. "Obviously, it's exciting to see players change teams. You know people love that."

Not all people, in truth.

Toronto awoke to the news on Saturday that two starters from this past season's NBA champion Raptors - Leonard and Danny Green - were moving on.

Leonard picked the Clippers and will sign a $142 million, four-year deal and George will be joining him in a massive trade that will send Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and five draft picks to Oklahoma City in a blockbuster deal that shook up both conferences. Green is joining the Lakers on a two-year deal.

"Teams are making moves to win now and that's obvious," said Heat forward Meyers Leonard, who left Portland and is part of the four-team Butler deal.

"The Clippers, for example, they're in 'win-now' mode. They played well last year in the playoffs. They go and get Kawhi and PG and all these other players. OKC has to be thinking, 'OK, we just got a ton of draft picks.' So people are positioning themselves in different ways."

The Clippers and Thunder couldn't talk about their deal until it was finalized.

The Raptors didn't have to adhere to such rules.

"On behalf of the Raptors, I say a very heartfelt thank you to Kawhi and to Danny, and we send them and their families nothing but good wishes," Raptors president Masai Ujiri said. "As an organization, the Raptors will focus on the future and continue our pursuit of a second championship."

Davis wasn't a free agent, but the Lakers' move to get him surely played a role in plenty of other moves during free agency.

The Lakers' trade for Davis got done on Saturday night, and it cost them a ransom. Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, the draft rights to De'Andre Hunter, two first-round picks, a first-round pick swap and cash went to the Pelicans - and then the Lakers had to send Isaac Bonga, Jemerrio Jones, Moritz Wagner and a future second-rounder to Washington. The Wizards sent cash to the Pelicans.

"Anthony Davis is arguably the most dominant all-around young player in today's NBA," Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said.

"Anthony represents everything we stand for, with his unwavering commitment to excellence both as a person and an athlete. This is a historic moment for the Lakers franchise, and we couldn't be more proud to have him."

The sign-and-trade that will have Kevin Durant leaving Golden State for Brooklyn as well as Kyrie Irving's signing with the Nets were both still pending on Saturday night.

Golden State's deal to keep Klay Thompson around at nearly $190 million for five years also wasn't immediately announced, though there would seem to be little rush there.

Boston completed a sign-and-trade with Charlotte, a deal to send All-Star Kemba Walker (four years, $141 million) to the Celtics and Terry Rozier (three years, $58 million) to the Hornets.

"Kemba has excelled in this league for many years while consistently playing at a level among the NBA's elite," Celtics President Danny Ainge said.

Davis was back for the second straight night at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, alongside James and Lakers guard Kyle Kuzma. James chatted for a couple minutes with Clippers consultant and NBA legend Jerry West - before the Lakers and Clippers met in a summer matchup.

Also at Summer League were a trio of young Atlanta stars - Kevin Huerter, John Collins and Trae Young.

"I'm super excited," Young said when asked about the moves across the league. "Some of the trades and where people are landing at is just kind of different. It's kind of a surprise a little bit, but it's good cause now the league is even more wide open."

Butler left Philadelphia via sign-and-trade for Miami, with Josh Richardson leaving the Heat for Philadelphia. Hassan Whiteside left the Heat for Portland as part of that deal, while Moe Harkless left the Blazers for the Clippers in another part of the same massive trade.

"Jimmy's leadership, tenacity, professionalism, defensive disposition and his ability to create his own shot will improve our roster immediately," Heat president Pat Riley said

"Any time you can add a four-time All-Star to your roster, you make that move."

Butler said Wade told him for years that Miami was the right fit for him. "And we were able to make it happen," Butler said.

Notes:

Among the other deals that got done on Saturday:

- The Lakers added DeMarcus Cousins and Quinn Cook, plus kept Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and JaVale McGee.

- Orlando completed the signings of its top two free agents, Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross.

Associated Press

The acquisitions of Kawhi Leonard (left), from the NBA champion Toronoto Raptors, and Paul George, who leaves the Oklahoma City Thunder, have made the Los Angeles Clippers favorites with many bookmakers to win next season's NBA championship. AP

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2019-07-08 07:58:32
<![CDATA[Superstar shuffle adds some overdue intrigue]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/08/content_37489258.htm There is no clear favorite.

This is what the NBA wanted. And needed.

The biggest piece of valid criticism about the league in recent years has been it is too predictable. Golden State got to the last five NBA Finals. LeBron James had made it there eight years in a row, four with Miami and then four more with Cleveland. Brooklyn used to be the 'other' team in New York, and the Clippers used to be the 'other' team in Los Angeles.

No more.

Welcome to a new NBA. If you think the Clippers can win it all next season, or the Lakers, or Utah, or Philadelphia, or Milwaukee, or Houston, or Denver, or even Golden State and maybe a few others, you're right.

Technically, there is a favorite: The sports books in Las Vegas, after hearing the news that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are heading to the Clippers, have listed them as the best bet to win the 2020 NBA championship. Yes, the Clippers. A team that has won exactly four playoff series since moving to Los Angeles in 1984.A team that had 12 consecutive losing seasons a generation ago.

There wasn't much NBA intrigue this time last year. The Warriors were adding DeMarcus Cousins to a team that won the last two championships and were seemingly locks to win a third consecutive title.

Everyone knows it didn't work out that way.

Toronto took care of that. It was just more proof that what seems obvious at this time of year doesn't always come to fruition.

This year, though, the newfound balance of power seems like a done deal. The East still has a 60-win team in Milwaukee returning the reigning MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo and shooting guard Khris Middleton, so the Bucks may be the favorite right now on that side of the league.

Philadelphia lost JJ Redick and Jimmy Butler, adding Josh Richardson and Al Horford to a team that looks to be dominant defensively. No one will count out Boston, because of Brad Stevens and now Kemba Walker.

Miami got better even after losing Dwyane Wade with the addition of Butler - and the Heat might throw their hat in the ring if Russell Westbrook is indeed available following the George trade to the Clippers. Brooklyn gets Kyrie Irving this season and now knows it'll be adding Kevin Durant next season, once he returns from his Achilles rehab. Atlanta's young core may be the most promising in the NBA.

And let's not forget the East also has the reigning NBA champion Raptors, albeit without Leonard and Danny Green.

But in the West... wow.

The Clippers kept Patrick Beverley, have an amazingly talented bench led by Lou Williams, a coach everybody wants to play for in Doc Rivers and now gets two of the very best players in the game with Leonard and George.

The Lakers still have James, added Anthony Davis, kept JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo, signed DeMarcus Cousins and Green - and might be in the market for another shooter.

Portland went to the West final last season and have an elite backcourt in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Utah had a brilliant summer, giving Donovan Mitchell more good players like Mike Conley to surround himself with. Houston still has James Harden and Chris Paul. Dallas figures to be better if Kristaps Porzingis is healthy to run alongside Luka Doncic.

The Lakers are almost certainly coming for someone's playoff spot out West. Same goes for the Heat in the East. And before long, New Orleans with Zion Williamson and David Griffin at the controls, Atlanta with that core led by Trae Young and Kevin Huerter, potentially Memphis with the Ja Morant era set to begin, it'll be their turn at the playoff table.

It's been a top-heavy league for a long time. Only five different franchises have represented the West in the NBA Finals over the last 20 years. In the East, it's five over the last 15 years.

Right now, the odds-makers in Vegas are predicting next June it'll be Clippers vs. Bucks. A couple of days ago the Lakers were the betting favorites.

A new day is here in the NBA.

Tim Reynolds is a basketball writer for Associated Press.

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2019-07-08 07:58:32
<![CDATA[Digest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/08/content_37489257.htm Soccer

Wang thanks PSG after exit confirmed

Wang Shuang thanked Paris Saint-Germain for giving her the opportunity to play abroad after the French giant confirmed the China international has left the club.

PSG on Friday said it had reached an agreement to terminate Wang's contract, which had been due to expire in June 2020.

Talking to local media in Sichuan province over the weekend, Wang, who joined PSG last August, said she had made the decision to leave the club for many reasons and did not rule out playing abroad in the future.

"I cannot go further with PSG, but I'm grateful for PSG for giving me the opportunity to step onto a big stage of life, to let more people know me, and to let me have a bigger future," she said.

Mixed Martial Arts

Song lands sensational KO at Vegas UFC event

China's Song Yadong made a stunning North American UFC debut by knocking out Mexico's Alejandro Perez in Las Vegas on Saturday.

The 21-year-old bantamweight, who improves to 14 wins and three defeats, ended the contest in the first round with a devastating right hook that floored Perez.

Song is 4-0 in the UFC and the promotion is eager to make him a star in its efforts to gain a larger promotional foothold in Asia.

Tianjin-born Song trains at the Northern California gym of longtime UFC title contender Urijah Faber.

Coach Tite adamant he won't quit Brazil

Brazil coach Tite vowed on Saturday to respect his contract regardless of the outcome of the Copa America final against Peru, amid rumors he's set to quit.

Tite gave short shrift to journalists asking about his future ahead of the final on Sunday (Monday morning Beijing time) in which Brazil was aiming for a first major tournament victory in 12 years.

"My contract is until 2022 and I'll be faithful to it," said the 58-year-old.

Tite's assertion came after reports claimed that he was angry a number of his backroom staff either have left or will be leaving after the Copa.

And he hit out at those spreading false rumors.

"I don't believe criticism means you're against someone, criticism is having a different opinion," he said.

Basketball

Bruised knee ends Zion's Summer League

Zion Williamson's NBA Summer League is over.

The New Orleans Pelicans announced on Saturday that the No 1 pick in this year's NBA draft will not play any more at the Summer League in Las Vegas because of a bruised left knee. The team stressed the move is precautionary.

"Zion will move forward from this incident without issue," said David Griffin, the Pelicans' executive vice-president of basketball operations. "However, in an abundance of caution, we have made the determination that he will not appear in game action for the remainder of the NBA Summer League."

Williamson's presence helped the Summer League sell out its opening day on Friday and reach another sellout on Saturday.

Golf

Cart-less Daly to play through pain at Open

John Daly's request to use a cart to help him play in the British Open has been rejected by the Royal&Ancient, but Daly vowed on Saturday to play through pain at Portrush.

American Daly said he might soon need a total knee replacement but will attempt to play in the major, which tees off on July 18 at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.

"My plan is to give it a shot in 2 weeks time at Portrush," Daly tweeted. "Fingers crossed I can make it thru the pain."

The 53-year-old, who won the 1995 British Open, was approved to use a cart at May's PGA Championship, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, but still missed the cut at Bethpage Black.

Xinhua - Agencies

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2019-07-08 07:58:32
<![CDATA[GOING THE DISTANCE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/08/content_37489256.htm Don't be fooled by the heavenly scenery. The 185-kilometer BMW Hood to Coast China Relay is a trip to hell and back designed for only the hardiest runners.

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At 185km long, the BMW Hood to Coast Relay is one of China's toughest but rewarding running experiences, as Shi Futian reports

Don't be fooled by the heavenly scenery. The 185-kilometer BMW Hood to Coast China Relay is a trip to hell and back designed for only the hardiest runners.

Over the weekend, the relay's third edition took place in 2022 Winter Olympics co-host city Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, with 1,800 brave souls from 360 teams taking on the grueling 26-hour challenge.

Torrential rain and strong winds in the first three hours on Saturday added an extra element of difficulty.

Beginning at Thaiwoo Ski Resort, participants traversed tough mountain terrain and bucolic grasslands en route to the finish line at Senado Field, where a grand party awaited the exhausted runners.

Courage and endurance alone, though, are no guarantee of completing the race, with the relay requiring a cohesive effort from the five-member teams. Each of the course's 19 sections must be completed by one team member while the other four travel by car and interchange at the end of every leg.

The relay debuted in China in 2017 when 805 runners participated; a year later the field grew to 1,280. The original Hood to Coast Relay, founded in 1982, takes place in the US state of Oregon every August.

It's an arduous and often hellish trek, but one that has proven addictive for repeat participants such as Li Yinan and his 61-year-old mother, Shang Xiumin.

"The Hood to Coast Relay means a lot to me as it has helped me grow as a runner," said Li, a PR professional.

"Three years ago when I joined the Hood to Coast for the first time, I had not even finished a single marathon. Now, as a more mature runner, the appeal of the relay is more about teamwork."

With an average age of 50, Li's team also featured a father-and-daughter duo and a grandmother.

"My mom has been my teammate in the relay for three years," said Li. "For the past two years, my mom has been training and taking part in many long-distance running events such as the Shanghai Marathon.

"For her, it's about running, cooperation and having fun with her family."

The relay also featured many current and former professional athletes, including China's retired Olympic race-walk champion Wang Liping, who won 20km gold at the 2000 Sydney Games.

"This is my first time joining the relay as a runner, and I've been waiting for this day for two years," said Wang, who at 43 was the youngest member of this year's oldest team (average age of around 61).

"I'm definitely not the strongest in my team. All the veterans in my team are serious and experienced marathon runners. They told me that they want to be role models to attract more young runners to the sport."

After retiring in 2006, Wang took a long break from athletics. Now, though, she's rediscovered her love for the sport.

"More and more people were starting to run and many came to me asking for advice," Wang told China Daily in an exclusive interview. "Compared with the time when I was an athlete, I have a different mentality - winning medals is no longer my goal. Now I just want to enjoy running and help more with my experience."

Wang's running group, Legend of Master, was represented by five teams this year, but she's careful about who enters.

"It's still a challenging race with risks. I always suggest that people should run scientifically," Wang said. "Runners should not blindly compare themselves with others and just want better results. For many, a half-marathon is enough."

Safety and enjoyment are also foremost in the minds of the race's organizers.

"Since last year's race, we've interviewed more than 30 running groups that participated and we've had discussions with industry experts to make improvements, including track design, volunteer services and environmental protection," said Li Lu, general manager of Starz Sports Running Culture.

In safe hands

Medical stations are dotted along the route and a quick-response team is also on call. However, given the sheer length of the course, medical aid cannot always be instant.

Thankfully, extra help is on hand in the form of the Beijing Doctor Runners, a group comprised entirely of physicians who have come to the aid of runners in numerous long-distance events throughout the country over the years. This year the group entered six teams, one of which functioned purely as volunteer medical support.

"Initially, 56 physicians signed up for the support team and we selected the best 15 people who are all senior doctors in Beijing's major hospitals," explained the group's leader, Ma Mingtai, an orthopedic surgeon at Peking University People's Hospital.

"Before the race, we trained all the members of all six teams, in terms of how to treat the runners who suffered pulled muscles, joint injuries and other emergencies. We outlined contingency plans for many situations.

"As long-distance running is growing dramatically in China, we feel obliged to contribute. We showed our spirit."

The route of this year's BMW Hood to Coast China Relay featured stunning scenery around Zhangjiakou, a co-host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics, in Hebei province. Provided to China Daily

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2019-07-08 07:58:32
<![CDATA[Swimming star Ning finding his stride after retirement]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/08/content_37489255.htm China's former swimming world champion Ning Zetao has kept a low profile since his sudden retirement in March.

However, it seems that the 26-year-old has not totally abandoned the sporting life, with the pool ace challenging his endurance on land over weekend in the BMW Hood to Coast China Relay, around Zhangjiakou, Hebei province.

"As a retired swimmer, I can actually follow all sorts of sports now," said Ning, who only managed to finish part of the grueling 185km course. "It's a very different experience running in the relay.

"I have mostly just run alone on flat roads, but the relay is a combination of roads and muddy cross-country sections. It's very different from what I had imagined."

Ning shot to fame in 2015 by becoming Asia's first world champion in the men's 100m freestyle.

However, despite his professional athletic background, he still found the relay extremely tough going.

"I have to say that it's a lot more difficult than what I expected," said Ning.

"It was a huge challenge. I only experienced part of the track, but we chose the most difficult sections. I underestimated how hard it would be."

"As a pro athlete, aerobic fitness was not my focus - strength training and improving my skills were the priorities. Now, I'm making changes which will benefit my heart health."

Ning also said he enjoyed the team element of the race. One of his teammates was office worker Wu Ya, who usually participates in triathlons.

"The Hood to Coast relay and triathlon are both tests of endurance, but they are different," said Wu. "The relay's length and time are challenging. Luckily, it's a team sport.

"I learnt a lot, and the experience will in turn help me to improve in triathlon."

Zhang Jingkun, a biketrial enthusiast, was another member of Ning's team.

"All of the members in our team have sports experience, so it might seem like the relay should be easy for us. But that's not the case. It's hard," said Zhang.

"If you really like the sport, you should keep on doing it. More importantly, just enjoy it."

The BMW Hood to Coast China Relay attracted some famous faces over the weekend, including (from left) former Olympic race-walk champion Wang Liping, retired swimmer Ning Zetao and actor Yo Yang from Taiwan. Provided to China Daily

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2019-07-08 07:58:32
<![CDATA[International duty beckons Asian stars]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/06/content_37488862.htm With seven weeks remaining until the top eight players on each team officially qualify for the Presidents Cup, four Asian stars - Li Haotong of Chinese mainland, CT Pan of Chinese Taipei, Thailand's Jazz Janewattananond and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama - are in the running to automatically qualify for the International Team that will square off against Team USA.

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China's Li, Pan among leading contenders for Presidents Cup

With seven weeks remaining until the top eight players on each team officially qualify for the Presidents Cup, four Asian stars - Li Haotong of Chinese mainland, CT Pan of Chinese Taipei, Thailand's Jazz Janewattananond and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama - are in the running to automatically qualify for the International Team that will square off against Team USA.

The Presidents Cup is returning to Australia's Royal Melbourne Golf Club for the third time from Dec 9-15, when the International Team, led by captain Ernie Els, takes on the US squad captained by Tiger Woods.

The Chinese mainland is poised to celebrate its first representative in the Presidents Cup with the talented Li, 23, currently occupying fifth place in the team standings. Strong performances in the World Golf Championships, where he has finished tied for ninth, tied for 19th and tied for 11th have put him solidly on Els' radar.

"It would be special to play for Ernie. He'll be a good captain. It would be a huge honor and hopefully I can make the team and win the event," said Li, a two-time European Tour winner.

Likewise, Pan is fighting hard to become the first golfer from Chinese Taipei to feature in the Presidents Cup. His first PGA Tour win at the RBC Heritage in April solidified his place in the automatic qualifying bracket, where he currently sits sixth.

"We've not had a player on the Presidents Cup team and I want to make history by being the first," said Pan. "The Ryder Cup sparks great enthusiasm among fans and that's something I want to do for Chinese Taipei."

Thailand's Jazz has moved to eighth spot in the International Team standings after a strong June highlighted by his win at the Kolon Korea Open two weeks ago. His fourth career Asian Tour victory, along with top-5 finishes in three Japan Tour events, also vaulted the 23-year-old to a career-high No 52 in the official world rankings.

"For sure I have a chance," said Jazz, whose triumph in Korea was his second win of 2019. "I would love to be on the team, but I need to work hard. It's not easy because the tournaments I play have smaller world ranking points, but I will try to get the job done."

Meanwhile, Matsuyama is seeking his fourth straight appearance in the Presidents Cup and sits fourth on the team points list largely due to his consistent form on the PGA Tour, where he has not missed a single cut since Cup qualifying began last August.

The 27-year-old has accumulated six top 10s, including three top fives and 10 other top-25s..

The rest of the top eight in the International Team standings include Marc Leishman who remains atop the standings, followed by Presidents Cup veterans Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott and Jason Day.

For Team USA, Chez Reavie collected his second career PGA Tour victory and first in 11 years at the Travelers Championship to move up to No 13 in the standings. The victory came one week after Reavie found himself in contention at the US Open, where he eventually finished tied for third.

At last week's Rocket Mortgage Classic, Nate Lashley collected his first PGA Tour title by six strokes to move from outside the top 100 in the standings to No 47.

Elsewhere on the US standings, Patrick Reed and Brandt Snedeker both finished tied for fifth in Detroit and each moved up two spots to Nos 20 and 21, respectively.

The top eight for Team USA remain steady, with Brooks Koepka sitting at the top of the standings. Woods, who will make his next start in two weeks at the British Open, sits No 12.

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2019-07-06 07:05:19
<![CDATA[Top four set for Shanghai]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/06/content_37488861.htm

Reigning champion Xander Schauffele will be challenged by the world's top four ranked players - Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose - at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions tournament from Oct 31 to Nov 3 at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai.

Tickets to the 15th edition of Asia's biggest tournament are now on sale, with organizers anticipating one of the strongest fields ever as the world's best golfers square off for an increased prize pool of $10.25 million.

Schauffele has gone from strength to strength since last year's victory, winning the Sentry Tournament of Champions on the PGA Tour, tying for second at the Masters and finishing third at last month's US Open.

The 25-year-old American, whose Chinese-speaking mother accompanied him to Shanghai last year, has since risen to as high as No 9 in the official world rankings.

"Winning my first WGC title at the HSBC Champions last year in front of my family was amazing," he said.

"Coming through such a world class field definitely gave me the confidence to know that I can deliver in the big pressure moments, so I am really looking forward to attempting my first successful title defense in Shanghai. It was an unbelievable field, but I think this year sounds like it is going to be even stronger."

World No 1 Koepka won his fourth major earlier this season at the PGA Championship, and with runner-up finishes at both the Masters and the US Open, his current position at the top of the game is undisputed.

"I am delighted to confirm I will be returning to Shanghai to play in the biggest event in Asia. I finished tied for second at Sheshan in 2017, so I know the course suits me well," Koepka said.

"I love the vibe and energy that the Chinese crowds bring to the course each year. I think the scheduling changes for the majors has made the HSBC Champions an even more important event for us this year. With no majors scheduled after July, everyone will be targeting winning the year's final WGC tournament."

World No 3 McIlroy has won twice on the PGA Tour this year, including the Players Championship. Having finished in the top five three times, he'll be looking to finally add the prestigious HSBC Champions title to his collection, while world No 4 Rose, the 2017 WGC-HSBC Champion, collected his 10th PGA Tour victory at this year's Farmers Insurance Open.

China Daily

 

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2019-07-06 07:05:19
<![CDATA[Brimming with confidence, Wang stays hot at Wimbledon]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/06/content_37488860.htm

LONDON - China's Wang Qiang said confidence is everything as she looks to cause an upset at Wimbledon.

Wang is playing at the top of her game, finding an ever-increasing sense of self-belief.

The 27-year-old is at a career-high ranking of 15th in the world after making the quarterfinals in Prague and Miami.

The secret to her run of form? "Confidence," she said.

"Last year I had really good confidence, but I think I need more, so I'm building my confidence for the second half of this year. More confidence on court," she said.

Wang's year-ending ranking has gone from 114 to 70, 45 and 20 over the past four years.

She is the 15th seed at Wimbledon and beat Slovenia's Tamara Zidansek 6-1, 6-2 in 54 minutes on Court 17 on Thursday to cruise through to the third round.

"I played really aggressive. I did everything right. I was very focused on the court. I'm happy with what I'm doing on the court," she said.

In her first appearance in the third round at the All England Club, Wang will face Elise Mertens, the 21st seed, in the round of 32 on Saturday.

The Belgian beat Romanian wild card Monica Nicolescu 7-5, 6-0 in round two.

"I think she plays really aggressive on the court," Wang said of Mertens.

"She tries to hit every ball as hard as she can. I will just try to be myself and not play so much on the defensive. I will just try to hit with her."

Despite being in peak form, Wang is not thinking too far ahead at Wimbledon.

"I don't think too much. Just step by step, match by match," she said, with Kiki Bertens, Petra Kvitova, Sloane Stephens and Johanna Konta lurking in her quarter of the draw.

The Tianjin right-hander said she has been working on her form and technique in training.

"That's what I practice every day. I just want to take what I practice into the match. I just try to do it correctly," she said.

Wang is more than impressed with US teenage qualifier Cori Gauff's stellar Wimbledon debut, knocking out two-time champion Venus Williams on her path to the third round.

"When I was 15 years old, I stayed at home and was playing games. I don't know how she did it. I have no idea!" said Wang.

It's not outside the realm of possibility that Wang and Gauff could potentially meet here - in the final.

Agence France - presse

 

China's Wang Qiang, seeded No 15, hits a return en route to a 6-1, 6-2 triumph over Slovenia's Tamara Zidansek in their second-round match at Wimbledon on Thursday. With the win Wang becomes the fifth Chinese woman to make the last 32 of every Grand Slam. She'll next face 21st seed Elise Mertens of Belgium on Saturday. Associated Press

 

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2019-07-06 07:05:19
<![CDATA[Murray makes triumphant return]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/06/content_37488859.htm

Former world No 1 Andy Murray made a victorious return to Wimbledon, where he won two of his three Grand Slam singles titles, partnering with Pierre-Hugues Herbert to a four-set win in their first-round doubles match on Thursday.

The 32-year-old Scot, who could become the first Wimbledon men's singles champion since Michael Stich in 1992 to also win the doubles title, returned to the court just two weeks ago after what he called "life-changing" hip surgery.

Murray and Herbert gelled as the match went on and beat Romanian Marius Copil and Frenchman Ugo Humbert 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-0 on Court One.

"It was nice," said Murray. "I was a little bit nervous at the start (he lost his opening service game) but got better as the match went on.

"It was a really nice atmosphere at the end, with the new roof closed and the crowd making more noise.

"It was great to get the win."

Murray, who made a dream return to the sport with a doubles title win at Queen's alongside Feliciano Lopez, said that having never before played with Herbert required making some adjustments.

"It was tough, but as the match went on we got more comfortable and were reading each other better. As it went on, we moved well and set each other up with great returns."

Herbert, who angered his usual partner Nicolas Mahut by opting to play with Murray, smiled when asked what grade he would give Murray for his performance.

"It is tough to give a mark to Andy as he won here in singles and that is much harder than winning in doubles," said the Frenchman.

AFP

 

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2019-07-06 07:05:19
<![CDATA[Former judo ace delivers Dutch delight]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/05/content_37488606.htm LYON - Jackie Groenen had not even managed a shot on target before coming up with the goal that sent the Netherlands through to its first women's World Cup final on Wednesday.

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Groenen's extra-time strike propels Netherlands to Cup final against US

LYON - Jackie Groenen had not even managed a shot on target before coming up with the goal that sent the Netherlands through to its first women's World Cup final on Wednesday.

Groenen's long-range strike nine minutes into extra time that lifted her team a 1-0 victory over Sweden in the semifinal in Lyon was just the midfielder's third goal in 53 international appearances.

"I just saw a nice angle and we've been saying for the last couple of weeks that I need to take more shots. The ball came really nicely so I just thought 'let's do it'," said a delighted Groenen, 24.

A bronze medal winner as a youth at the 2010 European Judo Championships, Groenen is now looking to take her side to the top of the podium in France as it prepares to face the United States in Sunday's final.

As reigning European champion, the Netherlands is dreaming of winning a first World Cup in only its second appearance at the tournament. Only Germany and Norway have previously held both titles at the same time.

"It went through my mind as soon as I got off the pitch," Groenen said of Sunday's clash with the holder.

"They're obviously a massive team, they have massive players, they're the biggest team in the world ... and I can't wait to play them."

Unlike the 'total soccer' for which the men's team is famed, the Dutch women are a hard-working, functional team that has struck late to win all three of their knockout matches, with a stoppage-time victory over Japan coming before two goals in the final 20 minutes downed Italy in the quarterfinals.

"We never thought this could be possible," Groenen said. "One more match and we could be world champion. It feels so great."

Groenen's winner shoots her to worldwide prominence just as she prepares to move to Manchester United, joining Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema and Danielle van de Donk in England at the same time that Jill Roord also joins the Gunners.

"I'm really proud I'm going there but to come there with a World Cup would be really cool," said Roord.

"She played really good today, she's had a really good tournament. Today she scored, she doesn't score all that often but it was a really good game," Roord said of Groenen.

Getting this far is a remarkable achievement for the Oranje, appearing at just their second World Cup, but they will need to improve drastically if they are to stand any chance of defeating the Americans.

The Netherlands has long been a force in the men's game, but had never even been to a major women's tournament until a decade ago.

"I think the potential has been in the Netherlands for a longer period of time but the facilities were not there," said Dutch coach Sarina Wiegman, pointing to the start of the Dutch league in 2007 as the catalyst.

"It's the whole development in the Netherlands and also the individuals that made bigger steps.

"Now they have been in a couple of tournaments so they are very experienced and they believe they can perform really well."

Team USA made it through to a third straight World Cup final after beating England 2-1 in a nailbiter on Tuesday.

That match had it all, and it was always going to be difficult for the second semifinal to reach the same heights.

"It was a really tight game tonight. It was really tough to get some pace going," Netherlands forward Lieke Martens said.

"I thought we had really good character. We really played until the last minute. We worked 200 percent. The effort was so big today. I'm really proud of the girls."

The priority for Martens now is recovering from an ongoing foot injury that forced her to the sideline at halftime.

"If I'm not 100 percent fit then I want another girl to come in and give 100 percent," she said.

"That's the most important thing. It's easy. As a player, you always want to play the biggest game of your career and this is one of the biggest ones I hopefully am going to play.

"I'm going to do the recovery. I really believe in the medical staff."

If Groenen's goal wasn't agonizing enough for Sweden, the 2003 World Cup runner-up also saw midfielder Kosovare Asllani go off on a stretcher at the end after being hit in the face by the ball.

Sweden will now face England in the third-place playoff in Nice on Saturday.

"Now it's about the medal," said coach Peter Gerhardsson.

"Ending up in third place of course feels a lot better than ending up fourth, so we'll do everything in our power to try to do that."

AFP - AP

 

Jackie Groenen (right) celebrates with Shanice van de Sanden after scoring in extra time to lift the Netherlands to a 1-0 victory over Sweden in Wednesday's Women's World Cup semifinal at Stade de Lyon in Lyon, France. The European champion Netherlands will face the United States in Sunday's final. Benoit Tessier / Reuters

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2019-07-05 08:07:48
<![CDATA[Coach praises Peru's gritty response]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/05/content_37488605.htm PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil - Peru coach Ricardo Gareca praised his squad for overcoming adversity after it reached the Copa America final with a 3-0 win over defending champion Chile on Wednesday.

Peru was completely transformed from the meek outfit that was thrashed 5-0 by Brazil in its final group-stage match as goals from Edison Flores, Yoshimar Yotun and Paolo Guerrero carried it to the final for the first time since 1975.

"We've come through some tough moments in the Copa and we deserve to be in the final," said the Argentine coach.

"We managed to overcome the huge adversity of the defeat to Brazil that was hastily judged and provoked a wave of harsh criticism," he said in a pointed rebuke to the Peruvian press.

Captain Guerrero, whose cool finish in injury time put the gloss on an impressive performance said there was still work to do.

"It was a derby against Chile, a difficult match, we prepared well and won it very well," he said.

"We kept our concentration and we're in the final. Now we have to work hard and think about Brazil."

Chile coach Reinaldo Rueda was at a loss to explain his team's performance, which was in stark contrast to its impressive showing last time out against Colombia in the quarterfinal.

"I don't know what factors could have influenced those first 20 minutes that made the difference," said the Colombian. "We didn't get into the game, we didn't show the attitude or aggressiveness of other matches.

"Mentally, we wanted to play the final without dealing first with this step... and Peru surprised us."

But, he noted, "their goalkeeper had a great night."

Pedro Gallese was the villain of Peru's hammering by Brazil but has made up for it since.

He crucially saved a shootout penalty by Uruguay's Luis Suarez in the quarterfinal and made brilliant stops to deny Jean Beausejour, Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas on Wednesday.

Chile captain Gary Medel said the reigning champion had much to be proud of after winning the previous two Copa editions.

"We had a lot of chances in the second half but we couldn't convert them. Now we have to fight for third place and give our all against Argentina," Medel said.

"There's nothing more to say. There is always a chance for revenge in football and we have to stay positive and take the benefits from this - what we did badly, what we did well.

"We've had a great tournament. It's not easy to win the Copa America, and we did it in the best way."

Agence France - presse

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2019-07-05 08:07:48
<![CDATA[No trip too trying for Messi fanatic]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/05/content_37488604.htm

It took Hu Qingwei nearly 30 hours to fly from Shanghai to Brazil, but the arduous journey and jet lag were more than worthwhile as he watched his idol Lionel Messi from the stands at the ongoing Copa America.

Even a 2-0 loss for Messi's Argentina in Tuesday's semifinal against the host at Belo Horizonte couldn't dampen Hu's enthusiasm.

"Messi was still a threat in the match, but soccer is a team sport," Hu said.

"Brazil just capitalized on a few tiny mistakes to win the game. The young Argentine team needs time to grow up, and I hope they grow up quickly."

Born in 1978 when Argentina won the World Cup on home soil, Hu said he was a fan of Argentina from the first time he watched soccer, and he rates Messi as the greatest player on the planet.

His hero worship has taken him all over the globe, witnessing numerous Messi appearances for club and country, including Argentina's gold-medal victory over Nigeria at the 2008 Beijing Olympics; a last-16 win over Mexico at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa; the 2014 World Cup last-16 triumph over Switzerland in Brazil; and Barcelona's treble-clinching win over Juventus in the 2015 UEFA Champions League final in Berlin.

"I love his talent, his skills and his mentality," Hu said of Messi.

"To be perfect, my life needs the Copa America. I've experienced the World Cup, the European championship, the Asian Cup, the UEFA Champions League and the AFC Champions League, so it would be a pity if I couldn't see the Copa."

Hu failed to secure tickets for the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil, where Germany beat Argentina in extra time, and for any of the matches four years later in Russia, where Messi's major-tournament heartache continued.

"I was not there, so Argentina lost all these matches," quipped Hu, who has an uncanny knack of sourcing tickets when he arrives on foreign soil.

"He seems to have a sixth sense and always gets the tickets he wants," said his wife and constant traveling companion.

Xinhua

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2019-07-05 08:07:48
<![CDATA[Irrepressible Zhang aces another major milestone]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/05/content_37488603.htm Zhang Shuai reveled in producing another little piece of Chinese tennis history at Wimbledon on Wednesday.

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Late-blooming star makes more Grand Slam history at Wimbledon

Zhang Shuai reveled in producing another little piece of Chinese tennis history at Wimbledon on Wednesday.

The 30-year-old beat Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer 6-3, 6-2 to reach the third round at the All England Club for the first time and become the fourth Chinese woman (along with Li Na, Zheng Jie and Peng Shuai) to make the last 32 of every Grand Slam.

Afterward, Zhang was quick to share her joy with the fans that have stuck with her throughout her 13-year pro career.

"Thank you to all the Chinese fans; I really enjoyed playing and fighting when I was surrounded by the voices of your cheering," she wrote on Weibo.

Next up for the world No 50 is 2018 Australian Open winner Caroline Wozniacki.

Zhang, a Tianjin native, has every reason to believe she can produce an upset after winning the Australian Open doubles title with Sam Stosur in January and stunning French 23rd seed Caroline Garcia in the first round at Wimbledon to reach another individual milestone.

"Finally, I won a game in each Grand Slam," Zhang said after ousting Garcia.

"I know that those who win all the time might say I'm too easily satisfied, but for ordinary players like me it means a lot."

Zhang could also challenge for doubles honors at Wimbledon.

She has again teamed up with Stosur in the women's draw and is partnering with another Aussie, John Peers, in the mixed competition.

"To win a Grand Slam in 2019 I signed up for matches in singles, doubles and mixed doubles," said Zhang.

"I only have four chances in the singles a season, but together with doubles and mixed doubles, I have 12 chances.

"I never thought I could achieve my goal this early this year when I won the Australian Open doubles title with Sam Stosur. I really cannot tell if it's because my dream pushes me forward or I keep motivated by pursuing my dream.

"I really want to thank my two Australian partners. I played bad before, but they did not give up on me."

In the build-up to Wimbledon, Zhang ruffled a few feathers when she accused 20-year-old British player Katie Swan of failing to correct an alleged bad line call at Eastbourne.

"Who can tell me what's true? They said it was 100 percent sure the ball was out, including my opponent. Sometimes the integrity is devaluation..." Zhang wrote in broken English on Twitter after her victory.

Swan hit back, tweeting: "I don't think it's fair to blame me on this...it was the line judge's call and in the moment I didn't see it. I was just playing tennis. There were many bad calls for both players. This has nothing to do with my integrity."

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the argument, some - Zhang included - have suggested the spat was a sign of the Chinese player's tough resolve and spirit.

"When I encountered unfair situations before, I would just choose to keep silent," Zhang said in a Titan Sports article.

"But I realized that I couldn't always be like that. Others won't hate you when you show your attitude. Just like this time, many have supported me, telling me I'm doing the right thing."

Zhang has also found her voice in defense of Chinese tennis.

With the WTA increasing its presence here, some players criticized adding the Zhengzhou Open to the calendar, just after the US Open in September.

But Zhang thinks the dissent is ludicrous.

"Some players are being too dramatic in claiming the schedule must be changed," she said. "I don't speak too much, but I couldn't keep my mouth shut that day.

"Each year, Asian players travel two to three months to Europe to play matches.

"If some players think it takes too long in Asia to play, they can choose to rest. Why are they not happy to see there are more tournaments in my country?

"Our players, media and the fans have made great efforts in leveling up tennis development in China, and that's the right we earned. I just protected our right."

 

China's Zhang Shuai hits a return en route to her Wimbledon second-round victory over Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer on Wednesday. Zhang's 6-3, 6-2 triumph makes her only the fourth Chinese player to reach the last 32 in all four majors. The Tianjin native will face 14th seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark in the third round. Hannah Mckay / Reuters

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2019-07-05 08:07:48
<![CDATA['I can beat anyone' says an inspired Gauff]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/05/content_37488602.htm LONDON - Cori Gauff, the 15-year-old American schoolgirl who stunned five-time champion Venus Williams in the first round, continued her Wimbledon dream debut on Wednesday when she eased into the last 32, proclaiming: "I can beat anyone."

Ranked No 313 in the world, Gauff defeated 2017 semifinalist Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 6-3, 6-3 in the first match played entirely under the new Court One roof.

She is the youngest player to advance to the third round since compatriot Jennifer Capriati went all the way to the semifinals in 1991.

"I think I can beat anyone. If I don't think I can win the match then I won't even step on the court," Gauff said.

Her confidence is justified.

She has yet to drop a set in five matches at the tournament, including three in qualifying.

In her two matches in the main draw, she has been broken just once and has committed a paltry 18 unforced errors.

Still, Gauff said she is staying grounded in the face of her sudden fame.

She is unwinding by watching YouTube videos of make-up tips while giggling along to online pranks. Her phone is loaded with goodwill messages.

"One is (14-year-old actress) Navia Robinson. My little brother actually watches one of the shows she's on.

"Storm Reid, another actor, she's in the new series Euphoria," Gauff explained to a generally mystified press corps.

"Surprisingly, social media relaxes me before the match. That's what I do. Not really Instagram so much. I just watch You-Tube videos before my match. It gets me in a laughing spirit."

Despite her nods to everyday teenage pastimes, Gauff insists she has a serious streak.

During qualifying, where she played on a wild card, she needed to complete a high school science exam.

It's all part of her strong work ethic instilled in her by parents Corey and Candi Gauff, both successful college athletes.

"They just told me, 'You have another match. The tournament's not over. Don't focus too much on what happened.' My goal is to win it," she said.

Practice is also key, even if it means driving herself harder and harder on the courts.

"These last couple weeks, when they say practice is over, I say, 'Let's do one more. Hit the ball harder to me.'

"I was telling my training partner Courtney, 'I need you to hit the ball harder ... we need to do more rounds.'

"I didn't know this would happen. Looking back on these past few weeks, I can see how maybe that little extra time definitely helped."

Next up for Gauff is a last-32 clash against world No 60 Polona Hercog of Slovenia on Friday.

AFP - AP

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2019-07-05 08:07:48
<![CDATA[Just 18, 'FAA' is taking flight]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/05/content_37488601.htm WIMBLEDON, England - Dealing with jitters early in a match is nothing new to Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Being among the favorites to win Wimbledon? Considering the Canadian is just 18 and never had won so much as one Grand Slam match until this week, well, yes, that's not the sort of thing he is used to.

One more victory, and the kid known to many by his initials, "FAA", could be taking on defending champion Novak Djokovic.

Not that he's worrying about that just yet.

The first player born in the 2000s to win a men's match at a major, the 19th-seeded Auger-Aliassime progressed to the third round in his debut at the All England Club with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory over French qualifier Corentin Moutet on Wednesday.

"I can recall being 10 years old and playing (for) the first time away from home and being very nervous. Since (I was) very young, you kind of learn how to deal with this pressure, with the stress," Auger-Aliassime said.

"Now it's Grand Slams. Maybe one day I'll play finals of these events and I'll be, for sure, extremely nervous. I think it's emotions you can't go against. Today, I was able to deal with it in a good way."

Auger-Aliassime is hardly the only one contemplating the possibility that he could play for a major championship in the not-too-distant future.

Much like Coco Gauff, the 15-year-old American who beat Venus Williams on Monday and won again Wednesday, Auger-Aliassime is fascinating folks because of his play and his age.

Tennis has been waiting for quite some time to discover a worthy successor to the Big Three of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic, who have won the past 10 major titles and 53 of the last 64. So there is a bit of irrational exuberance whenever some youngster comes along with the sort of talent and poise Auger-Aliassime seems to possess.

As of Wednesday evening, British bookmakers were listing the 6-foot-4 Auger-Aliassime at 25-1 odds to lift the Wimbledon trophy, behind only the top three seeds: Djokovic, Federer and Nadal.

That's remarkable. Before this tournament, the Montreal native only played one Grand Slam match, and lost. He had never been ranked above 108th until this season.

But who else is there to rate right behind the game's dominant figures?

It's just three days into Wimbledon and the guys ranked Nos 4-6 - Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, all in their 20s and touted as up-and-comers - already are gone, as is three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka, who lost to 21-year-old Reilly Opelka of the US in five sets.

"I understand that people want to see a new winner of a Grand Slam. They don't want to see three of us dominating the Slam titles. Eventually it's going to come," Djokovic said, then waited a comedic beat before adding with a smile: "... in about 25 years."

Djokovic moved into the third round by dismissing Denis Kudla of the US 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

"There were some moments in the match where maybe I could have done better," Djokovic said.

Associated Press

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2019-07-05 08:07:48
<![CDATA[Digest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/05/content_37488600.htm Soccer

Toure takes talent to second-tier Qingdao

Former Manchester City and Barcelona star Yaya Toure has put his retirement on hold to join Qingdao Huanghai, the Chinese second-tier club announced on Wednesday.

Huanghai, which currently leads China League One by four points, said it hopes the 36-year-old can help it earn promotion to the top flight for the first time in its history.

Four-time African player of the year Toure has been without a club since having his contract terminated by Greek giant Olympiakos last December. In May, his agent, Dimitri Seluk, said Toure had "finally decided to hang up his boots".

However, a statement on Toure's website this week read: "Since the start of my career, I have always loved challenges and now I have decided to take this new challenge and make history once again with Qingdao Huanghai Football Club."

Wu's Espanyol in early start for Europa League

Chinese star Wu Lei's club Espanyol on Wednesday became the first top-flight team in Spain to return to preseason training.

Although the new La Liga campaign does not kick off until mid-August, Espanyol will be in Europa League action this month thanks to the Barcelona-based club's seventh-place finish last term.

To reach the group stages, however, Espanyol must battle its way through three two-legged qualifying rounds on July 25 and Aug 1 - with either Icelandic side Stjarnan or Estonia's Levadia Tallinn the first hurdle.

Wu, who has thrived in Spain since arriving from Shanghai SIPG in January, will miss those matches as he continues his recovery from a May shoulder operation but he is expected to be fit for the next round should Espanyol advance.

Brazil's Tite in awe of 'extraterrestrial' Messi

Brazil head coach Tite reserved special praise for Lionel Messi after the host booked a place in the Copa America final with a 2-0 victory over Argentina on Wednesday.

Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino scored as Brazil set up a clash with Peru at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium on Sunday.

Argentina controlled a greater share of possession against Brazil and had 14 shots on goal to Brazil's four. At the center of most of Argentina's best moves was Messi, particularly during a pulsating second half.

"He's an extraterrestrial," Tite told a media conference. "In all respects, both with the ball and without it."

Basketball

Well-traveled Wu joins Eagles as head coach

Former China international Wu Qinglong has been appointed head coach of the Qingdao Eagles, the CBA team announced on Wednesday.

"Qingdao is a team full of hardworking and innovative spirits. Players, coaches and managers are showing their great potential and strong determination," said Wu. "Qingdao has signed many talented players to reinforce the team since last season."

Wu played as a guard for Team China and boasts a long coaching resume, including serving as head coach of China's youth team and the Chinese Olympic team, and as an assistant coach of the senior national team.

He has coached numerous CBA clubs, including Liaoning and Xinjiang.

Volleyball

China rests veterans in loss to Turkey

Turkey outclassed China 3-1 (25-22, 25-19, 22-25, 25-22) at the FIVB Women's Volleyball Nations League finals in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on Wednesday.

After winning four of the five stops to lead its six-team group, China rested most of its veterans from the squad that won Olympic gold at the 2016 Games in Rio. They will return to action when qualifiers for the Tokyo 2020 Games begin at September's World Cup in Japan.

Earlier on Wednesday, defending champion Team USA beat Poland 3-1 (21-25, 25-16, 25-15, 26-24).

Xinhua

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2019-07-05 08:07:48
<![CDATA[Giddy qualifier requests selfie with US legend]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/04/content_37488102.htm WIMBLEDON, England - It used to be that players dreaded the prospect of facing Serena Williams, especially at Wimbledon.

Nowadays, they seem to be eager to go up against her - not because they think they can beat the American legend, but because, well, she's Serena Williams, and what better way to create a memory for life than to share a court with one of the greatest in the history of tennis.

That's why Giulia Gatto-Monticone, a 31-year-old qualifier from Italy making her debut at the All England Club, was thrilled when the draw put her up against Williams in the first round on Tuesday, and the schedule put them on Centre Court, to boot.

So what if Gatto-Monticone fell behind 5-0 in 17 minutes and wound up losing 6-2, 7-5?

"Incredibly happy to play her," Gatto-Monticone said afterward. "Serena is Serena."

The whole day was, she said, "a dream come true," filled with smiles and tears and goosebumps, starting with a morning tour of the stadium with her coach, her physiotherapist and her physiotherapist's son.

"We went through the club members' area. Just a spectacular place. Truly beautiful couches, flowers. We saw the trophies. We saw the entrance to the court," Gatto-Monticone said.

To the match itself, which was briefly even in the second set at 5-all, prompting an Italian reporter to ask whether Gatto-Monticone wondered whether maybe she had a chance: "No," came the quick reply. "I never thought that."

To the handshake after a highlight-worthy 12-stroke exchange that capped the result, including a trade of volleys at the net.

"She told me I'm an amazing player. I don't know if she really thought so, but she was so nice. I told her she's the queen of this tournament. I thanked her."

Gatto-Monticone asked the 37-year-old Williams if they could pose for a selfie together.

"She was sweet, because I was panicking and I couldn't find my phone," Gatto-Monticone recounted.

"She said, 'That's fine. Don't worry. I'll take it with mine and post it on Instagram.' I said, 'Perfect!'"

Consider, too, the attitude of the next woman standing in the way of Williams' bid for an eighth Wimbledon championship and 24th Grand Slam singles trophy overall (which is aside from her hardware in women's doubles and mixed doubles, an event she is entering this week with Andy Murray).That's another qualifier, 18-year-old Kaja Juvan of Slovenia, who was born a little more than a year after Williams won the 1999 US Open.

Juvan, like Gatto-Monticone, relishes the opportunity to meet Williams.

"I'm very glad I get the chance to still play with her, because she's done so much in her career," Juvan said.

The thing right now for Williams is that she hasn't been able to do much this season, in part because of an injured left knee that was a big reason Tuesday's match was only her 13th of 2019.

Associated Press

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2019-07-04 07:10:40
<![CDATA['I had goosebumps': Harris hails idol Federer]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/04/content_37488101.htm

As a 10-year-old, Lloyd Harris sat on Centre Court at Wimbledon to watch his idol Roger Federer.

Twelve years later, he swapped his seat high up in the stands for a place on the court where he gave the eighttime champion a huge scare before losing their first-round clash, 3-6, 6-1,6-2, 6-2 on Tuesday.

"I was 10 and it was the first time I had seen a pro tennis match," recalled Harris.

"My parents snuck us on to Centre Court and I saw Federer play Marat Safin.

"I thought it was amazing seeing these guys moving and the way they played. Here I am, playing him a few years later."

Two-time major winner Safin was always a crowd favorite, but for Harris, seeing the Swiss star win that fourth-round match in 2005 was key to his decision to become a tennis professional.

"Federer was always my idol. He was beautiful with finesse and the best role model for players," said the world No 86, who was making his Wimbledon debut.

Despite losing and with his chances compromised by a left calf injury, Harris will remember his Centre Court debut for years to come.

"I had goosebumps when I walked on," he said.

"The crowd was cheering loudly and I had to take a few seconds to absorb it."

Harris said the reaction to him playing the eight-time Wimbledon champion and 20-time major winner had been overwhelming - both before and after the match.

"It was chaos. I have never got so many messages," he said.

"I got thousands of messages from people I know and from people I don't know."

Agence France - presse

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2019-07-04 07:10:40
<![CDATA[Williams and Murray set to light it up in mixed doubles]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/04/content_37488100.htm WIMBLEDON, England - This is quite a pairing: Serena Williams teaming up with Andy Murray for mixed doubles at Wimbledon.

Murray's agent, Matt Gentry, said on Tuesday night that the two Grand Slam champions and former No 1-ranked players will be partners at the All England Club.

The deadline for signing up for mixed doubles was Wednesday morning.

When Williams appeared at her post-match news conference after a first-round victory in singles on Tuesday - which happened before the announcement that she'd play with Murray - she was greeted by questions about the possibility.

"His work ethic is just honestly off the charts. That's something I've always respected about him. His fitness, everything," said Williams.

"To do what he's done in an era where there's so many other great male players, so much competition, to rise above it, not many people have done it. He's one of the few.

"There's so many things to be admired. Above all, he really stands out, he really speaks up about women's issues, no matter what. You can tell he has a really strong woman in his life. I think, above all, that is just fantastic."

They are sure to draw plenty of attention, much more than mixed doubles normally attracts, and fill the stands - whenever and wherever their first-round match is played.

Williams, of course, is one of the most successful and famous athletes in history, someone who has transcended her sport as a global icon while winning 23 major singles championships, along with another 14 in women's doubles with her older sister, Venus.

There are even a couple of mixed doubles titles on her resume, with Max Mirnyi at both Wimbledon and the US Open, in 1998.

Murray, meanwhile, is one of Britain's biggest sports stars, forever known as the person who ended the nation's 77-year wait for a homegrown men's singles champion at the All England Club in 2013.

He won Wimbledon again in 2016, plus the US Open in 2012, along with being the only tennis player to win two consecutive Olympic gold medals in singles.

Murray is limited to playing doubles at the moment as he returns from an operation for a hip replacement. He announced at the Australian Open in January that he thought he would need to retire this season because of pain in an already surgically repaired hip.

But following a second procedure shortly thereafter, he decided to make a comeback.

Murray won the doubles title at the first tournament of his return, last month at Queen's Club in London with Feliciano Lopez. He is entered in men's doubles at Wimbledon with Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

Associated Press

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2019-07-04 07:10:40
<![CDATA[Benitez lured by dreams, not dollars]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/04/content_37488099.htm Rafa Benitez may now be the most expensive coach in the Chinese Super League, but the Spaniard is adamant his eye-popping salary was not the main factor in his decision to ditch the English Premier League for Dalian Yifang.

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Super League's priciest coach drawn to Dalian's 'incredible' ambitions

Rafa Benitez may now be the most expensive coach in the Chinese Super League, but the Spaniard is adamant his eye-popping salary was not the main factor in his decision to ditch the English Premier League for Dalian Yifang.

On Tuesday the former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Chelsea coach was introduced as Dalian's new boss, with reports claiming the 59-year-old will earn 12 million pounds ($15 million) annually in a two-and-a-half-year deal.

Benitez, though, insisted it was the lure of spearheading "an incredible project" at struggling Dalian that saw him quit one thrifty northeastern club, Newcastle United, for a more extravagant one in China.

"I have had offers of greater financial significance during my career, but they weren't the project I was looking for," Benitez said on his website.

"What I have found at Dalian is an incredible project that has arrived at the perfect time and this has been a major factor in my decision. We've accepted the challenge of leading a superb project with the full backing and confidence of the club's leadership team."

As the only manager in history to have won the Champions League, Europa League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup, Benitez' resume is among the best in the global game.

His feat in keeping a low-budget Newcastle team in the EPL for the past two seasons also bodes well for his immediate task at Dalian, which now sits 10th in the CSL, just six points above the relegation zone.

"It's a pleasure for me to be here, and it's a challenge," said Benitez at a Tuesday media conference to confirm his appointment.

"We're coming to a new country with a new culture. We need help, but we will try to do our best."

Getting the best out of Dalian's star playmaker Marek Hamsik, who was signed for a reported 20 million euros ($22.6 million) in February, will be high on Benitez' to-do list.

Benitez worked with Hamsik at Napoli but on Tuesday seemed keen to deflect attention away from the Slovakian's struggles, saying he was more focused on improving the skill and morale of the squad's Chinese players.

Having already studied videos of Dalian's matches, Benitez said he will work on the younger players' reading of the game and decision-making.

Dalian is confident Benitez' vast experience will have major long-term implications for the club and, in particular, its youth setup.

"I hope Benitez can lead the club and help build a better youth training system here," said chairman Zhang Lin.

"We know that Benitez played a significant role in building the youth training system when he was at Liverpool.

"We believe he can build a solid and promising future for Dalian. That's his strong suit and the reason why we want him.

"We still need time and the young players still need room to grow. Now the team is ranked 10th and our performances are inconsistent. However, we are looking to next year and even the next decade."

Dalian will, indeed, be glad to see the back of this season, which has been marred by a very public dispute between Belgian attacker Yannick Carrasco and former coach Choi Kang-hee.

Carrasco, a big-money acquisition from Atletico Madrid last year, has seemingly been angling for a return to Europe, with the winger missing training sessions and blaming a missed flight for his no-show last month for a loss to Hebei China Fortune.

Dalian responded by fining and temporarily suspending the player, who was then angered when he was scratched from the squad for a June 23 draw with Tianjin Tianhai.

"The attitude of some of the club's leaders and my teammates towards me is incomprehensible given my commitment and performance with the team so far," Carrasco wrote on social media.

Coach Choi thought different, saying: "If a foreign player wants to fit in to the team better in the future, he needs to display better professionalism and more devotion."

Now, Benitez must try to unite his squad ahead of his first test, Sunday's visit of fellow struggler Henan Jianye.

It's a match that Dalian will hope signals the dawn of a new era for the club.

 

Dalian Yifang's new head coach Rafa Benitez (center) gets down to business at Dalian Sports Center Stadium on Tuesday. The Spaniard will earn a reported $15 million per year at the club, making him the most expensive coach in the Chinese Super League. Provided to China Daily

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2019-07-04 07:10:40
<![CDATA[Messi vows to play on after latest heartache]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/04/content_37488098.htm BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil - Lionel Messi vowed to extend his international career after yet another bid to win a major title with Argentina ended in failure at the Copa America on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old Barcelona star, who infamously quit international soccer after Argentina's loss in the 2016 Copa America Centenario final, said he has no plans to hang up his boots after a 2-0 semifinal loss to Brazil.

"If I can still help in any way, I will continue to do so. I feel really good in this group," said the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"This is a good, talented generation who showed that they love the national team," he added. "They have a future and great foundations. They just need to be given time."

Messi will get another chance to end his tournament title drought next year when the Copa America takes place in Argentina and Colombia, with the 2022 World Cup looming on the horizon.

Meanwhile, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said his new-look squad has a bright future despite the loss.

"Without a doubt, today we showed that this group of players feel the jersey like no others," he said.

"We showed an image for the future of this squad and these players and the great path they are on. To play in this stadium, in these conditions and to be superior to our opponents.

"It doesn't matter because they're going to the final, but if we're aware of what we did today then there's only positives."

He said the defeat was "unfair "claiming that "no other team has created as many scoring chances against Brazil as we did".

Messi's best chance came in the 57th minute when he volleyed against the post.

Scaloni said the veteran was Argentina's "standard-bearer".

"Brazil continuously tried to stop passes from reaching him and we kept looking for ways to get him the ball," said the coach.

"It was thrilling to see him play. It didn't work out today, but he'll have his rematch and the whole squad will have their rematch."

Scaloni was unhappy with some of Ecuadorean referee Roddy Zambrano's decisions - particularly that Argentina picked up six bookings to Brazil's two.

"I didn't like the referee, and I don't usually make those comments," he said.

"I don't think he was qualified for a match of this level. If a midfielder player is on a yellow card, this changes things.

"There were a lot of small details where the match started to lose its balance because of those decisions."

'I knew I'd score'

Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring in the 19th minute from a Roberto Firmino pass, then in the 71st he returned the favor as Brazil qualified for its first Copa America final since 2007.

"I knew I would score. I'm not saying that because I scored. Other times I didn't say this," said 22-year-old Manchester City forward Jesus.

"I was very confident and I managed to score in a great team performance. Firmino set me up really well.

"I'm delighted, not for the goal but for the team. We scored the goals, we're all delighted about the match, about the commitment, about the performance."

Brazil coach Tite said: "Gabriel impresses all the professionals that work with him because he never gives up."

Associated Press

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2019-07-04 07:10:40
<![CDATA[Wheely interesting spectacle aimed at new fans]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/04/content_37488097.htm

Featuring thrills without chill, roller skiing is defying seasonal odds to attract urban spectators at the World Cup series opener in Beijing.

Built for the 2008 Summer Games, the Olympic Park in northern Beijing seems the least likely location for winter sports in July, but the arrival of an international roller skiing event has turned it into a sizzling summer showcase for the snowless version of cross-country skiing.

The three-day opening leg of the International Ski Federation's roller skiing World Cup series kicks off on Thursday with 131 athletes, including 42 locals, competing in three disciplines ranging from a 200m sprint to a 22.7km endurance race on a track encircling the Bird's Nest and Water Cube, two iconic 2008 venues.

Developed in the 1940s as a dry-land training regimen for cross-country skiers, roller skiing involves racing on wheeled skis on tarmac or plastic tracks. It has evolved into a competitive sport in its own right, with the annual World Cup series and biennial world championships sanctioned by the FIS.

From Beijing, the series moves on to Russia and Italy for three more legs through September, and organizers said staging the event here will go a long way towards redefining the Chinese public's perception of winter sports.

"Roller skiing as a summer training tool for elite cross-country skiers has great potential in our country for expanding entry-level mass participation in winter sports," said Ding Dong, executive deputy director of the National Winter Sports Administrative Center.

"It's a fun exercise for general fitness and a great tool for people who are not familiar with cross-country skiing to have a sense of what the sport is about."

The Beijing World Cup event was approved by the FIS after China successfully hosted a lower-profile competition last summer on the hot highlands around Baiyin in Gansu province, but the recent scorching weather in the capital has raised health concerns for athletes and spectators at the afternoon sessions.

The Beijing Municipal Sports Bureau said the organizing committee has heatstroke prevention measures in place and has made the program flexible if rescheduling becomes necessary.

The track will open to the public to experience roller skiing for free after the competition, according to the bureau.

"It will be a waste if we don't get the public involved," said Chen Jie, deputy director of the bureau. "Roller skiing is an ideal exercise in a country like China that for the most part lacks natural snowfall for skiing."

The organizing committee, with support from skiing wax producer Swix, has invited Norway's three-time Olympic champion skier Johannes Hosflot Klaebo to compete in Beijing and help promote the event.

Klaebo rose to stardom at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea after becoming the youngest Olympic champion in the sport by winning the men's 1.4km classic sprint at the age of 21 years, 114 days. He won two more golds in the 4x10km relay and team sprint to cement his supremacy in the sport.

"I think the roller skiing World Cup in Beijing is a super way to bring new fans to our sport," Klaebo said.

"We've had snow skiing competitions in China, but now it's time to put on the roller skis. We are really looking forward to competing there."

China's best cross-country skiers, including Pyeongchang Winter Games participants Wang Qiang (men's 50km classical) and Li Xin (women's 15km + 15km skiathlon), have set their sights on catching up with the world's best ahead of the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

"The accessible nature of roller skiing can buy us more time to improve our skills all year long. Hopefully, we can be more competitive at the Olympics three years from now," said Wang.

The best result China has achieved in Olympic cross-country skiing, which produces roughly a quarter of the gold medals up for grabs at each Games, is a 16th-place finish in the women's 4x5km relay at Turin in 2006.

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2019-07-04 07:10:40
<![CDATA[Digest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/04/content_37488096.htm E-sports

Industry's talent shortage growing

China's booming e-sports sector is struggling to keep up with the demand for gamers and industry professionals, according to a government report.

Less than 15 percent of such positions currently have enough employees, with the job market set to hit 2 million in five years, according to a report published by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

The sector currently employs around 500,000 people in China, with the majority concentrated in major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Chengdu and Chongqing.

The Chinese market was worth about 94 billion yuan (about $14 billion) in 2018 and is forecast to top 135 billion yuan in 2020.

Soccer

China, Japan sides set for showdowns

China and Japan's big guns are set for mouth-watering showdowns in the AFC Champions League.

Tuesday's quarterfinal draw in Kuala Lumpur pitted Shanghai SIPG against 2017 champion Urawa Red Diamonds while Guangzhou Evergrande, the 2015 winner, will face defending champion Kashima Antlers.

Both Chinese sides' first legs will be contested at home, in late August, with the second legs in September.

The last-eight matchups for the West Zone remain unknown as its last-16 games have yet to be played.

Both SIPG and Evergrande squeezed into the quarters on penalties against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, of South Korea, and Shandong Luneng respectively.

Universiade

Life is a cruise for Chinese students

With the Napoli Summer Universiade starting on Tuesday, Chinese students are enjoying life on board the event's unorthodox athletes' village.

Housed on cruise ships in the southern Italian city's port, the village is proving a big hit with Team China.

"Every morning the sunshine comes from the balcony and the weather is really fantastic. The sea is right there out of the windows," Cao Lizhi, from Tianjin University of Sport, told Xinhua.

"The cuisine is good and there is also a gym and a swimming pool on the ship. It is much better than I had imagined."

Shen Yi, from Nanjing University of Sport, was also impressed, saying: "It feels good to live on the ships. I'm very happy to be here with local food like pizza and spaghetti.

"I've never seen such blue sea and I really enjoy the life on the ships. I can communicate with some foreign students. They are all very friendly."

Basketball

Sixers table max offer to keep Simmons

The Philadelphia 76ers have offered a five-year, $168 million maximum contract extension to point guard Ben Simmons, ESPN reported on Tuesday.

The team and agent Rich Paul are expected to iron out the details and reach an agreement.

Simmons, who turns 23 later this month, made his first All-Star team in the 2018-19 season and averaged 16.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 1.4 steals in 79 starts.

The 6-foot-10 Australian was the No 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and was named Rookie of the Year in 2017-18.

Looney lands 3-year deal with Warriors

Free agent forward/center Kevon Looney agreed to re-sign with the Golden State Warriors, landing a three-year, $15 million contract, multiple media outlets reported on Monday.

Looney, 23, appeared in 80 regular-season games and made 24 starts for the Warriors last season, averaging 6.3 points and 5.2 rebounds.

In the postseason, Looney had averages of 7.1 points and 4.5 rebounds, seeing more time when DeMarcus Cousins missed most of the first three rounds of the playoffs due to injuries.

Xinhua - Agencies

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2019-07-04 07:10:40
<![CDATA['Little Onion' oozing Brazilian flavor]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/03/content_37487602.htm BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil - When Neymar was ruled out of the Copa America with an ankle injury just over a week before the big kickoff, there was reason for host Brazil to despair.

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Copa breakout star Everton bringing the samba magic

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil - When Neymar was ruled out of the Copa America with an ankle injury just over a week before the big kickoff, there was reason for host Brazil to despair.

But one player more than any other has brought back the old "samba magic" to the Selecao ranks, and that's Everton - a player reportedly courted by both Manchester clubs, City and United, and Paris Saint-Germain.

The dynamic 23-year-old winger has been a revelation for Brazil since earning a starting berth in its final Copa America group game against Peru.

He had already scored the third goal in a 3-0 win over Bolivia in the tournament opener after coming on as a substitute.

After a dire 0-0 draw with Venezuela, Everton and Gabriel Jesus were promoted to Brazil's starting XI, with the former rewarding coach Tite with another goal and a swashbuckling performance down the left.

In his home stadium in Porto Alegre, where he plays for Gremio, Everton was the one player who lifted the crowd onto their feet every time he got the ball in an otherwise frustrating blank against Paraguay in the quarterfinals, before Brazil won on penalties.

"He's the one who opens up the marking, who faces up to it," said Atletico Madrid leftback Filipe Luis, who has linked up well with Everton. "Those who benefit are those players playing close to him."

That's a move that will likely materialize once this tournament is over for the player nicknamed Cebolinha, meaning little onion - a reference to his likeness to a cartoon character of the same name due to the tuft of hair on his otherwise shaved scalp.

His popularity with Brazil fans has been enhanced further by the fact he's one of just three national team players plying their trade at home.

The other two - reserve goalkeeper Cassio and second-choice fullback Fagner - have yet to feature, meaning Everton is the only home player gracing the Copa America that local fans are able to watch at close quarters.

Although that is almost certain to change soon enough.

"He's a player who's ready to play in Europe," said Filipe.

'Audacious'

After Everton's scoring cameo against Bolivia, one of the most respected soccer journalists in Brazil, Juca Kfouri, wrote that "Everton must start for the Selecao".

"You have to have the courage to pick those that have the audacity to play football," he added.

Everton doesn't quite have the wing wizardry of one of Brazil's greats, Garrincha, but his bustling, powerful running and impressive close control are mightily effective, as is his ability to cut inside and shoot.

Similar to right-footed Arjen Robben, who likewise operates on the opposite flank to the one he should naturally occupy, Everton has been particularly dangerous cutting infield to shoot with his right boot.

Both his goals at the Copa have resulted from that maneuver. He fired an unstoppable shot into the far corner against Bolivia, and beat Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese with a drilled low effort to the near post.

"That's one of my characteristics, I like to cut inside," Everton said after his goal against Venezuela.

"I feinted to shoot twice and then hit it hard, giving the goalkeeper no chance."

That was his first goal for the national team, in his seventh appearance, many of which had been as a substitute.

"I really wanted to score that first goal; I was starting to beat myself up about it and get very impatient," he said.

Two matches later he had his next one and now a starting berth in Tuesday's semifinal against Lionel Messi's Argentina would appear to beckon.

After the tournament concludes on Saturday, a move to Europe looks likely.

Everton has a release clause of around 60 million euros ($68 million) in his contract.

A story in Monday's edition of Italy's daily Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Manchester City has already made an initial offer of 40 million euros plus bonuses to Gremio.

The story also claimed that the English Premier League champion has a "contract ready" for the attacker which will run until 2024 and be worth 4.5 million euros per year.

City could be in the market for a replacement for German winger Leroy Sane, who continues to be linked with a switch to Bayern Munich.

Agence France - presse

 

Brazil's Everton in action during a Copa America match against Peru at Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo on June 22. Reuters

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2019-07-03 08:03:26
<![CDATA[Sanchez feeling the 'love' to ignite Chile's campaign]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/03/content_37487601.htm PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil - "All you need is love" sung The Beatles in their 1967 release of the same name.

According to Chile coach Reinaldo Rueda, that's what's been missing from Manchester United misfit Alexis Sanchez' game over the past 18 months.

Over three and a half seasons with Arsenal following his $44 million move from Barcelona - where he had to make way for the arrival of Uruguay's Luis Suarez from Liverpool - Sanchez built a reputation as one of the most feared forwards in the English Premier League.

He was twice voted Arsenal's player of the year and featured in the 2014-15 Premier League team of the year.

But in his 18 months with United, Sanchez has lost both form and confidence, and now the EPL giant is reportedly desperate to offload him and his reported weekly salary of $505,000.

Yet Sanchez has shown signs of his old self at the Copa America, where he scored the winning shootout penalty against Colombia to send Chile into a semifinal meeting with neighbor Peru, on Wednesday.

He also netted in Chile's opening two matches, victories over Japan and Ecuador, meaning he's scored more in this month-long competition than he did in last season's entire Premier League campaign for United.

According to Rueda, it boils down to one thing that is missing from his life in rainy Manchester: "Love."

"In the national team and because of the attention they receive, the players don't want to leave," said the Colombian coach, who has not endeared himself to Chile fans by leaving out popular goalkeeper Claudio Bravo from his Copa squad.

"Despite not playing for their clubs, they come here with commitment and forge a strong group."

Sanchez is a hero in his country, having been one of the stars of Chile's back-to-back Copa victories in 2015 and 2016 - the only ones in the nation's history.

Wonder Kid

Sanchez, known as El Nino Maravilla - The Wonder Kid - in his homeland, is Chile's all-time scoring leader with 43 goals. He's even starred in a movie about his life.

As well as scoring the winning penalty against Colombia, he netted the decisive goal in the 2-1 triumph over Ecuador and helped pad the scoreline late in the 4-0 thumping of Japan.

In Manchester, he managed just one Premier League goal in 20 appearances, although only nine of those were as a starter.

He looked lost most of the time in the red shirt of United, rarely able to link up effectively with his teammates or produce any of the pace and trickery that was a feature of his career at Udinese, Barcelona and Arsenal.

But he's not alone in putting behind him a disappointing club season to thrive with his national team.

Colombia's James Rodriguez, seemingly unwanted by either his parent club Real Madrid or Bayern Munich, where he spent the past two seasons on loan, was all creativity and ingenuity with Colombia in Brazil until it lost to Chile.

And Philippe Coutinho, jeered by Barcelona's fans and pilloried by the notoriously demanding Catalan media, scored a brace in Brazil's opener against Bolivia and remains an unconditional starter in coach Tite's team.

But while they can be underappreciated at their European clubs, they remain adored by their countries' fans.

"That's why players like Coutinho, James or Alexis, who didn't have a great season, become themselves again with the national team," said Rueda.

"The treatment that is given to the players as professionals and as people generates the kind of reciprocity that compels them to give their all on the pitch."

In his current form, Sanchez looks not only capable of leading Chile to an unprecedented third straight Copa title, but is putting himself in the spotlight to earn a move to one of Europe's giants and end his United nightmare.

Agence France - presse

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2019-07-03 08:03:26
<![CDATA[Homing in on some foreign aid]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/03/content_37487600.htm Shanghai SIPG star Elkeson headlines a trio of Brazil-born players who could acquire Chinese citizenship to boost the national team's ranks.

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SIPG's Elkeson heads growing list of players touted as possible picks for China

Shanghai SIPG star Elkeson headlines a trio of Brazil-born players who could acquire Chinese citizenship to boost the national team's ranks.

Titan Sports this week reported that Elkeson is wanted by his former club Guangzhou Evergrande, with the seven-time domestic champion planning to naturalize the player as it continues to pursue its long-held dream of fielding an all-Chinese starting XI.

Signing a 'Chinese' Elkeson would also help Evergrande stay within the CSL quota on foreign players.

Elkeson has already indicated he is open to the process, telling Oriental Sports Daily earlier this year: "I might consider a formal invitation.If the conditions are right, then why not?"

His potential eligibility for China would be a massive boost for the beleaguered national team.

The 29-year-old has resided in China since arriving at Evergrande for 5.7 million euros ($6.4 million) in 2012. He proved an instant hit, bagging 24 goals to finish as top scorer in the 2013 Chinese Super League season.

Evergrande cashed in on Elkeson with a 18.5 million euro switch to SIPG in 2016, with the forward helping his new team to its first CSL title last season.

Evergrande is also being linked with naturalization moves for two of Elkeson's compatriots, striker Aloisio, of the second-tier Guangdong Southern Tigers, and winger Fernando Henrique, of the CSL's Chongqing Lifan.

According to online.sh.cn, the Chinese Football Association began to consider naturalizing the 31-year-old Aloisio half a year ago.

He has previous top-flight experience with Shandong Luneng, where he finished at the top of the 2015 CSL scoring chart with 22 goals.

Aloisio was snapped up by Hebei China Fortune in 2016 before moving to the Southern Tigers in 2018 on a two-year deal.

Chinese newspaper Soccer News reports that Evergrande is also prepared to fork out 10 million euros ($11 million) for 26-year-old Fernando.

Evergrande is also in the process of naturalizing former England under-20 and Everton defender Tyias Browning and Xiao Chu (aka Roberto Siucho in his native Peru), who now plays on loan at second-tier Shanghai Shenxin.

They would all join a fast-growing brigade of naturalized talent, with Pedro Delgado on Sunday becoming the latest convert to play in the CSL when he suited up for Shandong in a 2-0 win over leader Beijing Guo'an.

The 22-year-old Portugal native, who gained Chinese citizenship this year, even belted out the Chinese national anthem before kickoff as if to confirm his commitment to his new country.

Guo'an has pioneered Chinese soccer's naturalization trend, importing Hou Yongyong (aka John Hou Saeter) from Norway and Li Ke (aka Nico Yennaris) from England earlier this year.

Former Arsenal academy product Li subsequently became the first naturalized player to don the red of Team China in a 2-0 friendly victory over the Philippines in June.

"Li Ke fitted in very well, and he was really focused during and after the match," China head coach Marcello Lippi said after that June match in Guangzhou.

With naturalization now a common method of strengthening national teams, support is growing for the idea in China.

"In many strong national soccer teams, there are naturalized players," China's former Bundesliga player Shao Jiayi told China Daily. "It will for sure level up the strength of the national team.

"Many feared that by importing naturalized players we would adversely affect youth soccer in China, but I think that's short-sighted.Some naturalized players can help attract more kids to the sport.

"Many players at Evergrande have improved because of the international players there.

"Naturalized players could benefit the national team and help the next generation."

 

Shandong Luneng's Pedro Delgado became the latest naturalized player to feature in the Chinese Super League in last Sunday's match against Beijing Guo'an. Xinhua

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2019-07-03 08:03:26
<![CDATA[Teen titan Gauff vanquishes veteran Venus]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/03/content_37487599.htm WIMBLEDON, England - Cori Gauff grew up admiring the Williams sisters and picked up a tennis racket as a little girl because of the American superstars.

On Monday at Wimbledon, still just 15, Gauff beat one of them.

The youngest competitor to qualify at the All England Club in the professional era showed the poise and power of a much older, much more experienced player, pulling off a 6-4, 6-4 first-round triumph over Venus Williams, who at 39 was the oldest woman in the field.

When it ended, Gauff dropped her racket and put her hands on her head. After a handshake and exchange of words at the net with Williams, Gauff knelt by her sideline chair and tears welled in her eyes. Up in the stands, her father leaped out of his seat.

"Honestly, I don't really know how to feel. This is the first time I ever cried after a match ... or after winning. I've cried after a loss before," said Gauff, who is based in Florida. "I don't even know how to explain how I feel."

This was her third tour-level match; Williams has played more than 1,000.

It was Gauff's first match at Wimbledon, where Williams has played more than 100 and won five titles.By the time Gauff was born in 2004, Williams already had spent time at No 1 in the rankings and owned four of her seven Grand Slam singles trophies.

"It didn't really seem real, for a moment," said Gauff's father, Corey, between handshakes and slaps on the back from spectators leaving No 1 Court.

"On the walk to the court, I was walking behind her. She was excited. I was excited. She seemed confident, but I wasn't sure if she really was. I just said to her: 'This match is really magical. Just enjoy it. Your first Wimbledon main draw and you're on a main court against somebody you looked up to from the beginning'."

It was by far the most anticipated match of Day 1 at the grasscourt tournament, but hardly the only upset.

Two-time major champion Naomi Osaka, who was No 1 until a week ago, lost 7-6 (4), 6-2 to Yulia Putintseva, joining two young members of the men's top-10, No 6 seed Alexander Zverev and No 7 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, on the way out.

But Gauff's win was something special, potentially the sort of changing-of-the-guard moment people will remember for years.

Gauff certainly has the mindset of someone who intends to go far.

"I've said this before: I want to be the greatest. My dad told me that I could do this when I was 8. Obviously you never believe it," she said.

"I'm still, like, not 100 percent confident. You never know what happens. If I went into this match saying, 'Let's see how many games I can get against her,' then I most definitely would not have won. My goal was to play my best. My dream was to win. That's what happened."

Gauff came into the week outside the top 300 but was granted a wild card by the All England Club to enter qualifying. She rolled through those rounds at a nearby site, knocking off the event's top seed.

But this was a whole other task.

Gauff was sensational and showed zero signs that the moment or the matchup was too daunting for her.

It's the sort of unusual calm and steady way she has progressed through the various levels of youth tennis, including reaching the US Open junior final at 13 and winning the French Open junior title at 14.

Gauff idolized Williams and her younger sister, Serena, the first African American women since Althea Gibson in the 1950s to win a Grand Slam singles championship.

Serena has said Gauff reminds her of Venus.

After Monday's match, Gauff said she thanked Venus "for everything she did".

"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for her," said Gauff, who joined the crowd in applauding for Venus as she walked off the court.

"I was just telling her that she's so inspiring. I always wanted to tell her that. And even though I met her before, I guess now I have the guts to."

Many 15-year-olds might spend an early summer day at the beach or at a mall. This one played a tennis match at Wimbledon against Venus Williams - and won.

"People just kind of limit themselves too much. Once you actually get your goal, then it's like: What do you do now?" Gauff said. "I've always liked to shoot really high."

Associated Press

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2019-07-03 08:03:26
<![CDATA[Osaka has no answers after another early exit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/03/content_37487598.htm Naomi Osaka's 16-match Grand Slam winning streak has been followed by a two-match losing streak at majors, and as she haltingly discussed her quick departure from Wimbledon on Monday, she suddenly stopped.

"Can I leave?" Osaka asked the media conference moderator. "I feel like I'm about to cry."

And then she walked out.

On a wild opening day at the All England Club, No 2 Osaka was the highest-seeded and most-accomplished player to leave the scene, beaten 7-6(4), 6-2 by Yulia Putintseva.

For Osaka, it followed her third-round loss at the French Open in May.

Before that, she had won her first major at last year's US Open, then continued the unbeaten run by adding the Australian Open crown in January.

That made her just the 10th woman to win those two tournaments back-to-back, and the first player from Japan to top the WTA or ATP rankings.

Shortly after that, Osaka split from coach Sascha Bajin, saying: "I think my reason is I wouldn't put success over my happiness," but offering no further explanation.

When Osaka was asked on Monday about whether there could be a correlation between Bajin's departure and her recent results, she replied: "I don't think it's related at all."

Osaka, who dropped one spot behind new No 1 Ashleigh Barty last week, found her biggest issue against the 39th-ranked Putintseva was accuracy.

Osaka ended up with 38 unforced errors, 31 more than her opponent.

"I feel like I should have been able to play well today because I wasn't practicing bad," said Osaka, who dropped to 0-3 against Putintseva, including a loss on grass at a tuneup tournament last month.

"You just never know what's going to happen during matches."

Seven of Osaka's eight losses in 2019 have come against players ranked outside the top 20.

Meanwhile, when a reporter asked Putintseva why she's had so much success against Osaka, the Kazakh erupted into peals of laughter after saying: "I'm not going to tell you my secrets."

Associated Press

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2019-07-03 08:03:26
<![CDATA[Digest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-07/03/content_37487597.htm Soccer

Health issue prevents Pele from appearing

Brazil legend Pele was absent from a promotional event in Sao Paulo on Monday because of ill-health, according to one of his sponsors.

The 78-year-old was expected be the main attraction at the 'Watch The Best' event but canceled his appearance due to "personal reasons related to his health," said a representative for sponsor TCL.

Pele has faced a series of health concerns in recent years, including complications from hip replacement surgery and prostate problems. In April he spent 13 days in hospital with a urinary tract infection.

The former Santos and New York Cosmos star scored 1,281 goals in 1,363 career games and is the only player to win the World Cup three times.

Rashford signs new four-year United deal

Marcus Rashford committed his long-term future to Manchester United on Monday by agreeing to a new four-year contract, with an option for a fifth year.

The 21-year-old's previous deal was due to expire in 2020 and the England striker had attracted interest from other European clubs, including Barcelona.

However, United has reportedly finalized a contract worth $317,000 a week to ensure that Rashford remains at Old Trafford.

Rashford has scored 45 goals in 170 appearances since breaking into United's first team as an 18-year-old.

Winter Sports

Beijing residents get free taste of Games

With less than 1,000 days to go before the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, host Beijing's new center for winter sports promotion has become a popular attraction for community residents.

The underground center, the first of its kind in Xicheng District, covers an area of 800 square meters, comprising five parts for smart skiing, VR skiing on ski simulators, children's rock climbing, a local indigenous ice sport bingcuqiu and an exhibition of Winter Olympic culture.

Since it opened on May 22, the Baizhifang Ice and Snow Experience Center has hosted more than 1,000 visitors from the Baizhifang subdistrict. Local residents book free tickets through community staff.

With sports equipment, coaches and barrier-free facilities, the center attracts up to 100 residents a day.

Baseball

Batters on pace to set season homer record

A month after setting a record for most home runs in a month, Major League Baseball batters did it again and are on pace to shatter the season mark.

The Elias Sports Bureau said on Monday that MLB batters slugged 1,142 round-trippers in June, seven more than in May.

Five of the top six home-run months have been in the past three years. August 2017 is third at 1,119, followed by June 2017(1,101), May 2000(1,069) and May 2017(1,060).

A total of 3,421 home runs were hit in 1,255 games through Sunday, an average of 2.73 per game. That is up 19 percent from the 2.28 average through June last year, when 2,822 homes were hit in 1,236 games.

MLB batters are on pace to hit 6,624 home runs - well above the record 6,105 set in 2017 and up from 5,585 last year.

Angels pitcher Skaggs found dead in hotel

The Los Angeles Angels announced the death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs on Monday. The seven-year veteran would have turned 28 on July 13.

The Los Angeles Times reported that police in Southlake, Texas, found Skaggs unresponsive in his hotel room on Sunday.

A police spokesman told the Times that no foul play is suspected and it is not believed Skaggs took his own life.

Skaggs missed a big part of the 2017 season because of injury and was on the injured list twice in 2018.This season he was 7-7 in 15 starts.

Xinhua - Agencies

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2019-07-03 08:03:26
<![CDATA[Big Apple abuzz as Knicks, Nets dare to dream]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/29/content_37486243.htm NEW YORK - It's been seven years since the Nets crossed the Hudson River and took up residence in the Knicks' city.

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Checkbooks at the ready, New York rivals hope brighter days are coming

NEW YORK - It's been seven years since the Nets crossed the Hudson River and took up residence in the Knicks' city.

A real rivalry might finally arrive on Sunday.

Rarely relevant at the same time on the basketball court, the Knicks and Nets are front and center in the free-agency race, two of the teams best positioned to make a splash when the market opens.

Both can afford two top players, with hopes of landing not only a Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving, but possibly both. New York, home of the worst team in the NBA in two of the last seasons, could be the epicenter of the league in early July.

After years of bad play and bad trades, at least one team in the city could look really good in a few days.

The Nets seem confident. The Knicks sound cautious.

Game on.

Brooklyn is feeling good about its chances of winning it. Having recovered from an ill-fated trade with Boston in 2013 that cost the Nets years of high draft picks, Brooklyn has constructed a team that surprisingly made the playoffs.

Even if it lets D'Angelo Russell go after an All-Star season to pursue bigger fish, there are young core pieces like Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris, along with a player-friendly style under Kenny Atkinson that should be attractive to many players.

Forced to build slowly and small for years, the Nets appear ready to make a big move. A trade with Atlanta to shed Allen Crabbe's $18.5 million contract for next season left the Nets in position to go for two top players, without having to gut a promising roster to do so. Throw in a well-regarded medical staff and a recently built training center with nice views of Manhattan, and the Nets have plenty to sell.

They believe someone will want to buy.

"All I can say is a team like Brooklyn, when they look at us from afar, I think we've got to give them some credit. Because the guys that are free agents, all of them I would assume have spent the last year or two surveying the league," Nets general manager Sean Marks said.

"I mean, they know where they want to go. They know what they want to be a part of. I think our young guys have done a nice job to put themselves in that position."

The Knicks were first to signal their plans to look to free agency. During a 17-65 season - the worst in the NBA - they traded star Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas. The deal also allowed them to move the contracts of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee, clearing nearly $70 million. The Knicks can easily be positioned to offer two max deals.

Now, they have to see if anyone wants them.

The allure of Madison Square Garden hasn't proven to be enough, not with the years in the doldrums under owner James Dolan and a series of front-office executives.

The current leadership of president Steve Mills, general manager Scott Perry and coach David Fizdale hoped landing Zion Williamson would be the first step to a big summer and help interest free agents, but the lottery put them third instead of first - though they were happy to get RJ Barrett.

At the news conference to introduce Barrett last week, the Knicks didn't exactly tell their fans to prepare for big news.

"I think we're asking them to continue to be patient," Mills said. "We laid out a plan when Scott came on board and then David joined us that we were going to build this team the right way. We were going to draft well and we were going to be diligent about how we built this team and not take any short cuts, and not follow a path."

Their path could lead them in plenty of successful directions, even if they miss out on the biggest targets. There is still a wide range of All-Star players below the top tier - including Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker, Tobias Harris and Al Horford. If the Knicks can't or won't get any of them, there would be plenty of cap space and future first-round picks available to use in trades.

But the easiest way to make a leap is with a quick strike or two next week, and the fact that both teams can make one has the Big Apple buzzing. There was hope that a rivalry could be created when the Nets moved from New Jersey in 2012, but even with stars such as Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire in New York, and Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Deron Williams in Brooklyn, it never really took off before both teams crashed.

Now appears to be the time.

"Sometimes teams are able to make those quantum leaps. Other times you've got to not skip steps and take the slow road and continue to build," Marks said. "And I think we'll be able to make those judgments in a couple weeks' time."

On both teams.

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2019-06-29 06:52:22
<![CDATA[Ecclestone floats radical F1 fix]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/29/content_37486242.htm SPIELBERG, Austria - Former Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone would bring back refueling, give all teams the same engine and introduce a new third world championship category to revive the sport's flagging appeal.

Ecclestone, who was F1's commercial boss and greatest influence for four decades, responded to claims that the sport has been reduced to a Mercedes procession and has become a turn-off for fans.

The sense that Formula One's image was becoming tarnished by the predictability of Mercedes domination and Lewis Hamilton's supremacy in the drivers' championship came to a head at last weekend's French Grand Prix where the Briton won with ease ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

On top of that, Mercedes has won the drivers' and constructors' double every season since the start of the current V6 hybrid turbo era.

That translates as five double titles in a row, an achievement that has been followed this season by the decline of their rivals - Ferrari, which is struggling to challenge for a grand prix win, and Red Bull, which has been reduced to two podium finishes in eight outings.

Mercedes has reeled off a record eight season-opening wins in a row and stretched its winning streak overall to 10 races.

In support of comments made last weekend by Hamilton, Ecclestone agreed that any revamp should be managed without involvement from the current contestants.

"Firstly, I wouldn't be talking to the teams," said Ecclestone, who resigned as Formula One's chief executive in 2017 after 40 years in charge.

"It's like having a committee - and you don't need that when making decisions like this.

"I would be saying: We're going to have two championships. They're both world championships - one is the constructors' world championship and the other is the teams' world championship.

"The drivers' world championship would not be affected in any way."

Bygone era

Explaining his thinking in an interview with ESPN's Maurice Hamilton, the 88-year-old Briton, now "chairman emeritus" of Formula One, said his "new" constructors' championship would be for the major engine and chassis manufacturers. This would include Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault.

The team championship would be for other teams all using the same engine and a simpler less-technological car than those currently used.

He said he would give these teams a complete car, a spare engine and $30 million annually, thus resolving budget-cap problems. These teams, he said, should refuel during races. Ecclestone added that the constructors' cars may be weighted to help create a more level playing field.

He suggested that this idea revived memories of bygone years in the sport when the so-called customer teams attempted to win against the mighty manufacturers, using great drivers like Stirling Moss.

"F1 has to get people's attention again. If you've got four friends going to a race, you want to have a situation where none of them can agree on who is going to win," he added.

"By having two championships - aside from the drivers' - we're helping the small teams while letting the manufacturers race the way they want," he said.

"If Ferrari want to stop, they can stop. Or they can join the team people if they want to. The choice is theirs.

"Everything is up for discussion. But the bottom line is having affordable entertainment rather than very expensive technology."

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2019-06-29 06:52:22
<![CDATA[Digest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/29/content_37486241.htm Soccer

El Shaarawy's Shenhua switch falls through

 

Italy forward Stephan El Shaarawy has reportedly turned down a lucrative move to China and could now sign a new contract with Roma, Italian media reported on Thursday.

El Shaarawy had reportedly been set to sign a three-year deal with Shanghai Shenhua worth up to 16 million euros ($18.1 million) a season.

But Sky Sport Italia claimed the 26-year-old had second thoughts and did not want to leave the Italian capital. Gazzetta dello Sport said Shenhua refused the player's demands to have input into the club's choice of coach and playing staff.

Shenhua, currently 12th in the Chinese Super League, is coached by former Atletico Madrid and Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores of Spain.

El Shaarawy - nicknamed 'The Pharoah' because of his Egyptian heritage - has a year to run on his Roma contract.

Bronze shines to help England reach semis

 

Lucy Bronze helped set up the first two goals before completing England's 3-0 victory over Norway with a powerful shot of her own on Thursday night, sending the Lionesses into their second straight Women's World Cup semifinal.

After finishing third at the last tournament four years ago, England will now face either France or the United States on Tuesday in its quest for a first appearance in a final.

"Their (France and the USA's) two scouts were sitting literally behind the bench," England coach Phil Neville said. "So I waved at them after the goals."

The first, scored by Jill Scott, came after only two minutes and nine seconds in Le Havre. Ellen White and Bronze sealed England's triumph with goals in the 40th and 57th minutes respectively.

Basketball

LeBron jersey gesture lets Davis have his way

LeBron James will give up his No 23 jersey to new Los Angeles Lakers teammate Anthony Davis, who will sacrifice a trade bonus to help finance NBA free-agency moves, ESPN reported on Thursday.

James has worn No 23 during both stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers and with the Lakers last season. Davis wore 23 for seven seasons while playing for the New Orleans Pelicans.

Citing unnamed sources, ESPN said James will return to wearing the No 6 jersey he used while winning his first two NBA crowns during a four-season stint with the Miami Heat. Photos from the set of Space Jam 2 - a sequel to the 1996 film starring NBA legend Michael Jordan and animated cartoon icon Bugs Bunny - show James wearing a No 6 jersey.

A trade deal for Davis will be completed on July 6, when free-agent contract signings can be announced, but details about the move revealed on Thursday indicated the Washington Wizards are now involved in the transaction.

Celtics closing on capture of Kemba

 

The Boston Celtics are expected to make All-Star guard Kemba Walker a four-year, $141 million contract offer when free agency opens on Sunday, ESPN reported.

Walker, who spent his first eight seasons in the league with the Charlotte Hornets, is expected to accept the offer, Wojnarowski reported, citing league sources.

Just two weeks ago, Walker said he would take less than the five-year, $221 million "supermax" contract only the Hornets could offer him to stay in Charlotte.

Wojnarowski reported on Thursday, however, that Hornets owner Michael Jordan no longer is "determined to extend far enough financially to re-sign his franchise player."

In Boston, Walker would replace Kyrie Irving, who is expected to sign elsewhere. The 29-year-old Connecticut product averaged 25.6 points and 5.9 assists while starting all 82 games for the Hornets last season.

Tennis

American teen lowers Wimbledon record

 

Fifteen-year-old Cori Gauff of the United States made history on Thursday when she became the youngest player to qualify for Wimbledon.

Gauff will also be the first 15-year-old to compete in the main draw since Britain's Laura Robson in 2009 after defeating 19th seed Greet Minnen of Belgium 6-1, 6-1.

"I can do anything I put my mind to," said the 301 world-ranked Gauff, who was playing in qualifying on a wild card.

Lesley Kerkhove ended wild card Sabine Lisicki's hopes of a fairytale run into the main draw.

The 2013 runner-up from Germany had scored consecutive wins for the first time since November to reach the third round.

But after a 22-minute first-set rout, Kerkhove hit back to win 0-6, 6-4, 6-4 and make the main draw for the first time.

Belgium's Ruben Bemelmans was also making history as the 31-year-old qualified for Wimbledon for a record sixth time by beating American Donald Young.

Boxing

Andrade angling for shot at Canelo

Demetrius Andrade holds one of the four major world middleweight championship belts and wants to fight the man who has the other three, Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez.

Before he gets to do that, he has at least one more fight, when he makes the second defense of his World Boxing Organization title on Saturday night against Maciej Sulecki of Poland at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.

"I've been calling out Canelo and Triple G(former champion Gennady Golovkin) for 10 fights and I keep winning," Andrade said on Thursday. "At the end of this fight, I see myself with my hand raised, my belt around my waist yelling 'Canelo!'"

The 31-year-old Andrade (27-0, 17 KOs) previously held the WBO and World Boxing Association junior middleweight titles.

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2019-06-29 06:52:22
<![CDATA[JUST TRYIN' TO GET AHEAD]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/29/content_37486240.htm Athletes spring into action or coil into position in this week's selection of top sports pics

 

France's Griedge Mbock Bathy and Brazil's Cristiane vie for a header during a FIFA Women's World Cup last-16 match at Stade Oceane in Le Havre, France, on June 23. The French won 2-1 after extra time. Reuters

 

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2019-06-29 06:52:22
<![CDATA[China-US trade ties need dialogue, equality]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/28/content_37485855.htm China on Thursday urged the United States to cease its wrong practices and resolve existing problems through dialogue and cooperation on an equal footing with China.

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Commerce Ministry says Washington should lift its curbs on Chinese firms

China on Thursday urged the United States to cease its wrong practices and resolve existing problems through dialogue and cooperation on an equal footing with China.

This came as 96 percent of 314 business representatives stated their opposition to the US' proposed tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods. They testified during hearings in Washington, which concluded on Tuesday.

Gao Feng, spokesman of the Ministry of Commerce, said the US side should listen carefully to the voices of the industry and end its wrong practices.

The US side should address problems through equal dialogue and cooperation with China, which is in the interest of the two sides and the rest of the world, Gao said at a regular news conference.

He said that China also urges the US to immediately lift the measures that contain and sanction Chinese companies, in order to promote the steady and healthy development of China-US economic and trade relations.

China and the US have been locked in a trade dispute for months, exchanging hefty tariffs on each other's imports.

After reaching an impasse, negotiators agreed on Monday to resume their consultations. Top leaders of the two countries are expected to meet during the G20 summit in Japan.

Geng Shuang, spokesman of the Foreign Ministry, said China has always called for resolving trade tensions with the US through dialogue and consultation, but it will firmly safeguard its own legitimate interests.

US threats to impose more tariffs on Chinese imports cannot intimidate the Chinese people, Geng added.

Gao said China's stance toward tariffs is clear, that the country has always opposed unilaterally imposed tariffs. "The US trade bullying eventually hurts its own businesses and consumers," he said.

The "unreliable entities" list - a blacklist of foreign parties that, for noncommercial reasons, harm the interests of Chinese companies, will be released soon, Gao said. Companies that abide by Chinese law and the spirit of contracts have nothing to worry about, he said.

Zhou Mi, deputy director of the Institute of American and Oceania Studies of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said it is necessary for China to push forward with the list of "unreliable entities," and export restriction measures.

"These moves will bring about institutional improvement," Zhou said. "They are not meant to punish any company, but to guide all market entities to abide by the laws, regulations and commercial contracts. They can further level the playing field for both homegrown and foreign companies."

In a recent survey, a majority of US and Chinese consumers expressed strong support for bilateral trade due to a belief that both countries benefit from the exchange of goods, said Mei Yan, senior partner and China chair at advisory firm Brunswick Group.

The online survey was conducted among 1,000 US consumers and 1,000 Chinese consumers in early June.

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2019-06-28 08:20:02
<![CDATA[Huawei says don't politicize intellectual property]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/28/content_37485854.htm Huawei Technologies Co on Thursday warned that politicizing intellectual property would break the foundation of global innovation, as part of the company's broader push to safeguard its legitimate rights via open and transparent dialogue on complex issues including patents.

Song Liuping, Huawei's chief legal officer, said: "If politicians use IP as a political tool, they will destroy confidence in the patent protection system. If some governments selectively strip companies of their IP, it will break the foundation of global innovation."

The comments came after United States Senator Marco Rubio filed legislation to prevent Huawei from suing for patent fees in US courts.

"If such a legislative proposal was to be passed, it would be a catastrophe for global innovation. It would have terrible consequences," said Ding Jianxin, head of Huawei's intellectual property department.

According to him, intellectual property is private property and protected by the law. Disputes should be resolved through legal proceedings.

Since 2015, Huawei has paid more than $6 billion in royalties to legally implement the IP of other companies, with nearly 80 percent of that paid to US companies. At the same time, the company has received over $1.4 billion in patent licensing revenue since then, data from Huawei show.

Media reported earlier this month said that Huawei asked US telecom carrier Verizon Communications to pay $1 billion for licensing the rights to Huawei's patented technology.

"We have no intention of weaponizing our IP, and we are against charging exorbitant royalties," Ding said, adding that the fees Huawei charges are "within reasonable range."

"It's not just Verizon or the US. We also have negotiations of licensing and cross-licensing with other telecom operators - including those in Europe and other regions around the world. Such activities are ongoing practices among telecom companies," Ding added.

According to the company, Huawei adopts an open and cooperative attitude and follows the principle of fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory on patents licensing.

As of the end of 2018, Huawei has been granted 87,805 patents, of which 11,152 are US patents.

The data were revealed as Huawei released a white paper on intellectual property on Thursday, which highlighted that many of its technology breakthroughs are incorporated into the open standards that govern 3G, 4G and 5G, demonstrating the company's collaborative and respectful approach to IP.

As a result, even though some countries do not buy products directly from Huawei, they still use the essential patents of Huawei, and share in the benefits of the technology Huawei creates, the company added.

Wang Yanhui, secretary-general of Mobile China Alliance, said the white paper on patents marks a new push for the Chinese company to better elaborate its attitudes and history through an open and transparent attitude.

"Protecting patents is global common sense with no regard to boundaries. Any endeavor to selectively strip companies of their IP is an outrageous disrespect and violation of relevant laws," Wang said.

 

Visitors try out Huawei smartphones at an industry expo in Shanghai. Gao Yuwen / For China Daily

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2019-06-28 08:20:02
<![CDATA[HYC kicks off IPO proceedings on new STAR technology board]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/28/content_37485853.htm Investors' enthusiasm for technology companies was focused on the STAR Market at the Shanghai Stock Exchange on Thursday, as HYC Technology, which was the first company to start its initial public offering at the new tech board, started its online subscription.

The online and offline subscription for the Suzhou-based manufacturer of automatic detection equipment for industrial equipment was available on Thursday.

HYC Technology said in an announcement released on Tuesday that the company's issue price is set at 24.26 yuan ($3.53) per share. About 7.6 million shares were available for online subscription. An individual investor could subscribe to a maximum of 7,500 shares.

The result of the subscription will be announced on July 1.

Public information from China Securities Regulatory Commission showed that there are more than 2.7 million individual investors who have obtained access to invest in the new tech board.

Peng Hai, an analyst who tracks the new tech board at Lianxun Securities, said that the success rate will come at 0.057 percent if all the 2.7 million investors applied for the subscription, which is similar to the average 0.06 percent success rate of the A-share market recently.

Based on its earnings per share registered in 2018 and its net profit, HYC's price earnings ratio is 41.08 times, which is higher than the 31.11 times average static PE ratio over the past one month.

Information from Huatai United Securities - the major underwriter for HYC Technology - showed that initial quotation came between 10.65 yuan and 31.76 yuan per share.

Meanwhile, a total of 52 securities firms and their affiliated asset management companies took part in the price inquiry.

According to Zhou Wenqun, portfolio manager at global investment company Fidelity International, the marketized pricing system is one major breakthrough of the STAR Market.

For the companies listed on the main board of the A-share market, their pricing is set at 23 times their respective historic price earnings ratio, regardless of the type of the company, the profitability, growth rate or size. The only one pricing standard applied for all companies has become increasingly unreasonable over time, Zhou explained.

"But for the STAR Market, the inquired price is based on the coordinated result between the buyer and the seller, which can truly reflect the company's value," she added.

"On one hand, a STAR Market listed company will be able to seek more financing if the PE ratio comes above 23 times. But that is just a good example. For the less qualified companies, they might see their PE ratio come even under 10 times. But on the other hand, it is more helpful for investors to discover the companies with real value," she said.

Initiated in early November and officially launched on June 13, the STAR Market has so far received applications from 131 companies by Thursday, among which six have passed the revision of the SSE.

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2019-06-28 08:20:02
<![CDATA[Liquor firm Kweichow Moutai's shares break through 1,000-yuan barrier]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/28/content_37485852.htm Kweichow Moutai Co Ltd, China's iconic high-end spirit maker, saw its share price exceed 1,000 yuan ($145) per share during Thursday trading, making a historical breakthrough and becoming the most expensive stock in the A-share market, aided by continuously growing demand and its good earnings.

Most investors are not surprised by the robust performance of Moutai. Earlier this year, many investment firms, including Goldman Sachs and China International Capital Corp Ltd, were bullish on the growth potential of the stock.

They set the target price of Moutai at more than 1,000 yuan per share, attributing it to China's sustained supply-side reforms and consumption upgrade, which have boosted investor sentiment toward such consumer stocks.

Moutai, a distiller from Maotai town in southwestern China's Guizhou province, has made substantial gains this year. On Jan 1, it closed at 598.98 yuan per share. On Thursday, it closed at 996.35 yuan per share, and its share price has surged 66 percent so far this year. Its performance has been better than 90 percent of the A-share listed companies.

Now, its market value stands at 1.24 trillion yuan. Previously, it became the first consumer stock with a market value exceeding 1 trillion yuan. Last year, the overall GDP of Guizhou province reached 1.48 trillion yuan, meaning the market value of Moutai accounts for nearly 85 percent of provincial GDP.

Moutai became the first stock that exceeded 1,000 yuan per share after 27 years. More than two decades ago, there was a stock - now named INESA Holding Group - which once exceeded 1,000 yuan per share. The company has experienced multiple structural changes and now its market value is less than 10 billion yuan.

Other major liquor makers are reporting solid sales and also saw outstanding performance during Thursday trading. They include Sichuan province-based Wuliangye Yibin Co Ltd and LuzhouLaojiao Group, which led the advance of the spirits and consumer sector.

Last year, Moutai achieved whole-year sales revenue of 75 billion yuan, up 23 percent year-on-year. Its net profit totaled 34 billion yuan, jumping 25 percent over the previous year, its earnings report said.

This year, Moutai aims to achieve sales revenue of 100 billion yuan, growing 14 percent year-on-year, and reaching a net profit of 45 billion yuan. The company said it is strong and confident enough to drive further growth.

"The stock market now shows a prominent problem of polarization. Leading white-horse stocks have seen continued steady growth. The climbing share price of Moutai definitely gave a boost to many white-horse stocks, with the prices of several stocks reaching their new high, while some other themed stocks are being marginalized," said Yang Delong, chief economist at the Shenzhen-based First Seafront Fund.

Market demand for liquor products will likely remain strong, and major spirit makers are expected to witness more steady and structural growth and continue to remain competitive, Zhongtai Securities said in its report.

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2019-06-28 08:20:02
<![CDATA[Expert: Chinese consumers to drive future global growth]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/28/content_37485851.htm One of Britain's leading economists said Chinese consumers will be the driving force of future global economic growth.

Jim O'Neill, chair of the international think tank Chatham House and former chief economist at Goldman Sachs, made the remarks in a speech on Wednesday at the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China and the second China-UK Economic and Trade Forum in London.

"What happens to the Chinese consumers is more important to China's future," O'Neill said.

"If China continues with 8 percent nominal GDP growth, which I believe is 5 percent real (GDP growth), and 3 percent prices (meaning inflation), and if the Chinese consumers become the 50 percent of that total, the change from the next year to the next decade is somewhere between $11 to $12 trillion, which is equivalent to create another China," he said.

O'Neill is a former British commercial secretary to the Treasury. He said the Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI, initiated six years ago, will play a "hugely important" role in global trade, which has been buffeted by rising protectionism and unilateralism.

The BRI aims to build the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and deliver policies, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity via a new platform for a brighter future.

"If it can be implemented collectively, it can transform the trade pattern in Asia, particularly between China and India, two of the major BRICS countries," he added.

O'Neill is known for coining the term BRIC, the group term for Brazil, Russia, India and China, in 2001, to describe the four rapidly-developing nations that symbolized the shifting balance in the global economy.

South Africa was added to the group nine years later, making it BRICS.

"China remains the only one of the BRICS countries that after 17 years has actually done exactly what we had expected it would achieve," he said.

His opinion is that the ongoing trade dispute with the United States is not the most important challenge the country currently faces.

To continue its success, O'Neill said, China needs to address aspects of its aging population, which is a key contributor to the economic growth slowdown, and tackle environmental issues and population control in urban areas.

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2019-06-28 08:20:02
<![CDATA[Port city Dalian leads in linking China and Europe under BRI]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/28/content_37485850.htm A container train fully loaded with automobiles and steel pipes left Dalian Port on Monday in Dalian, Liaoning province.

It will arrive in Moscow, Russia, within 14 days. The traditional waterways would have taken 45 days, said Xia Ting, a manager with the Dalian Port Container Development Co Ltd of Liaoning Port Group.

"As a port city, Dalian has significant advantages in opening the China-Europe freight train route," said Xia, since it costs less and can reach other regions more conveniently.

Dalian Port has opened 18 routes to European cities since 2013. Last year, the transport capacity of the port reached 28,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs).

"The development of China-Europe freight train at Dalian Port has effectively promoted the interconnection of railway facilities between Dalian and countries and regions along the Belt and Road Initiative, and has led to more investment and trade," said Qi Yonghong, deputy director of the Dalian Municipal Development and Reform Commission.

In 2015, the National Development and Reform Commission of China and the Ministry of Commerce put forward "the Vision and Action on Jointly Building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road," which emphasized the port construction of 15 coastal cities, including Dalian.

Over the past four years, Dalian has continuously improved the level of foreign exchanges and cooperation and actively integrated into the Belt and Road Initiative.

Dalian Port has established trade exchanges with more than 300 ports in more than 160 countries and regions around the world. More than 98.5 percent of foreign trade containers, all of the commercial vehicles and more than 60 percent of imported crude oil in Northeast China have been transferred from Dalian Port, making it the largest port of foreign trade in the region.

On June 22, the world's first smart very large crude carrier (VLCC) with a capacity of 308,000 metric tons was delivered to its owner in Dalian and left the port for Singapore on its maiden voyage.

Niu Shuhong, assistant to chief engineer of DSIC, said it is the sixth-generation VLCC independently developed by Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co Ltd, and the 97th VLCC successfully delivered by the corporation.

DSIC currently has orders for 109 very large crude carriers, accounting for more than 15 percent of the world VLCC fleet.

Relying on industrial advantages and scientific and technological innovation, Dalian promotes the transformation of traditional manufacturing to intelligent manufacturing and encourages local enterprises to expand international cooperation, said Jiang Sijin, an official with the Dalian Municipal Science and Technology Bureau.

The establishment of the Dalian area of the China (Liaoning) Pilot Free Trade Zone also promotes the city's engagement in the BRI.

With innovations in administrative service modes and mechanisms, the area put forth China's first regulatory system on bonded blend ore.

More than 15 million tons of offshore transshipments have gone to Japan and South Korea.

Zhang Hongguang, deputy director of the administrative commission of the area, said the bonded blend ore mode was listed among the experimental methods in the reform of free trade experimental areas which can be replicated in the whole country.

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2019-06-28 08:20:02
<![CDATA[Barty aiming for long run at No 1]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/26/content_37484948.htm Mercurial Aussie among favorites to win at Wimbledon

Until two months ago, Ashleigh Barty had never been ranked in the WTA's top 10.

As of Monday, she's No 1.

The 23-year-old Australian had never been as far as the quarterfinals at any Grand Slam tournament until January. Then she won the French Open on June 8, and now she's one of the favorites to win Wimbledon.

"It's been a whirlwind few weeks for me," Barty said on Monday. "A whirlwind year."

Given the skills and all-court capability she's displayed, along with the strong head on her shoulders thanks in part to a hiatus from the tennis tour while playing professional cricket, there's little reason to think this rapid rise will be anything but the start of a long run for Barty.

She is headed to the All England Club - where she exited in the third round a year ago - on a 12-match winning streak, after following up her breakthrough championship at Roland Garros with Sunday's victory in the grass-court tuneup tournament in Birmingham, England.

That assured Barty of overtaking Japan's Naomi Osaka, reigning champion of the US Open and Australian Open, atop the WTA rankings.

"You always dream of it as a little kid, but for it to become a reality is incredible," Barty said about getting to No 1, something only 26 other women have done since computer rankings were introduced in 1973.

"This year we were aiming for the top 10, and now to be where we are is a testament to all of the people around me."

Barty began the year at No 15 and with one fourth-round showing in her 17 appearances in singles at major tournaments.

Look at what she's done so far this season: Tour-high 36 wins (in 41 matches), tour-high three titles (each on a different surface), debut Grand Slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open, then the trophy in Paris.

It was almost exactly three years ago that Barty returned to tennis, without a ranking at all, after an 18-month absence because she needed time away from the grind of the tour.

She stepped away at age 18, briefly switching sports to join a pro cricket team in Brisbane.

Her ability to play tennis was never an issue; she was, after all, a junior champion at Wimbledon in 2011 and reached three Grand Slam doubles finals.

"She was just overwhelmed with everything. She was so young. Expectations were high on her back then. And she wasn't handling that stuff very well," her coach, Craig Tyzzer, said the day Barty won the French Open.

"So the best thing she ever did was step away from the sport and just reassess her life and see what she wanted to do.

"For someone to be able to walk back in and play tennis at the level she's been able to do in three years is pretty amazing."

Away from the court, Barty works with Ben Crowe, a performance coach who helps her with the mental side of things.

"I have become a better person, and with that I've become a better tennis player, as well," said Barty. On the court, Tyzzer helps her in a constant search for improvement and variety.

Barty's slice backhand, big serve and forehand and strong net game are all part of a formula that give her a chance to win, no matter the surface or the opponent.

Confidence is a big factor in her current form, too. And there's no reason to doubt it will continue.

"This game doesn't get any easier," said Tyzzer.

"The fact that you won a Grand Slam doesn't mean you go out and win every match from now on, and she knows that."

At the moment, Barty does go out and win every match. That won't go on forever, of course, but she seems well-positioned to keep adding to her list of milestones.

Associated Press

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2019-06-26 07:47:42
<![CDATA[Baghdatis hanging up his racket]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/26/content_37484947.htm

Marcos Baghdatis, who put Cyprus in the global tennis spotlight, said on Monday he will retire from playing after Wimbledon.

Baghdatis, 34, rose to a career-high No 8 in the world rankings in 2006, having reached the Australian Open final in 2006 and the semifinals at Wimbledon later that year.

However, he has slipped to 134 in the world rankings, after a 15-year career on the ATP Tour.

Baghdatis is estimated to have earned $9 million in prize money.

Between 2006-10, he won ATP singles titles in Beijing, Zagreb, Stockholm and Sydney.

Baghdatis said on his website the decision to quit professional tennis was not an easy one.

"It has proven tough for me, especially physically, to come back to where I feel like I belong," he wrote.

"Even though my mind wants to do it, the limits of my body have prevented me maintaining and playing at the consistent high level I expect from myself."

"The last two years have been especially difficult for me with recurring injuries and pain."

He said that with "a beautiful wife, two young daughters and a third child on the way, I could not be more excited to spend more time with all of them at home."

Baghdatis said he will be heavily involved in tennis in a number of capacities, so people will continue to see him on the tour.

Xinhua

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2019-06-26 07:47:42
<![CDATA[Cancer survivor and Olympic champ conquers new challenge]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/26/content_37484946.htm THE HAGUE - A Dutchman on Monday completed a marathon swim along the route of the country's most famed ice skating race - which has not been held for two decades as climate change bites.

Instead of skating the daunting Elfstedentocht (Eleven Cities Tour), former Olympic champion long-distance swimmer Maarten van der Weijden slogged his way through all 195 kilometers (121 miles) of its murky canals.

Van der Weijden embarked on the epic journey across northern Friesland province last Friday and finally finished it on Monday evening, as the Netherlands basked in a heatwave.

"It took a long time but it was also very special and amazingly beautiful," the 38-year-old told broadcaster NOS.

Van der Weijden is a cancer survivor who overcame leukaemia to win a gold medal in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing in the 10-kilometer open water race.

His feat of endurance raised 3.9 million euros ($4.4 million) for cancer research.

It is van der Weijden's second bid to complete the route after failing last year. This time he said he had slept and eaten more, and worn a warmer wetsuit, Dutch news agency ANP reported.

"I love swimming, helping others and setting goals for myself," he told broadcaster EO recently.

Sorry, no medal

The swimmer followed the same route as the Elfstedentocht, one of the Netherlands' most beloved traditions which is now enduring a record drought.

The previous edition was in 1997, the last time the ice was thick enough to support both skaters and the hundreds of thousands of spectators the event normally attracts.

With meteorologists predicting ever-warmer weather due to global warming, it is uncertain when another Elfstedentocht will be held on ice.

In the meantime, Van der Weijden's alternative marathon along the course has captured the country's imagination, with supporters cheering him along every kilometer of his route.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte hailed the swimmer's "incredible performance", saying on Twitter: "The whole of the Netherlands is swimming with you!"

Completing the skating race is seen as a major achievement and so important that soldiers are allowed to wear its medal, called the Elfstedenkruisje (Eleven Cities Cross), on military uniforms.

Participants qualify for the medal after collecting stamps on a card from all the 11 cities around Friesland with the start and finish in the city of Leeuwarden.

Unfortunately for van der Weijden, the famously rule-abiding Dutch say he will not receive an Elfstedenkruisje for his epic swim.

"Perhaps he deserves a cross, but he won't get one," Immie Jonkman, who chairs the Eleven cities marathon, told Frisian regional radio.

"Our cross is only for people who have skated the marathon. Although we applaud him, we cannot make an exception."

Agence France-Presse

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2019-06-26 07:47:42
<![CDATA[Marbury looking to conjure more magic]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/26/content_37484945.htm Former CBA superstar takes coaching reins of Beijing Royal Fighters

Recalling how a decade-long China adventure rejuvenated his playing career, former NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury is embracing the opportunity to reignite a stagnant franchise as head coach of the China Basketball Association's Beijing Royal Fighters.

The return of three-time CBA champion Marbury following his retirement in February 2018 was made official on Monday when the Royal Fighters, the last team he played for, announced he has signed a three-year contract, starting from the 2019-20 season.

It will be the New York native's first full-time professional coaching job, and makes him the first foreigner in the CBA's 24-year history to take up a coaching role in the league after retiring as a player.

 

Stephon Marbury, who played 13 seasons in the NBA before suiting up for the Beijing Ducks and leading them to three China Basketball Association championships from 2012-15, on Monday was named head coach of the CBA's Beijing Royal Fighters. Provided to China Daily

"Thank you for the opportunity. I will give everything I have on the sidelines, just like I gave everything inside the lines, "the 42-year-old said on his Weibo account on Monday. "The end is another start. I am back. Are you with me?"

Neither the team nor Marbury replied to China Daily's request for further comment on Tuesday. His inaugural media conference is scheduled for Friday in Beijing.

Marbury, who led the Beijing Ducks to three CBA championships from 2012-15, has never hidden his ambition to develop the second half of his career as a coach since solidifying his stardom in China during the Ducks' title run.

The two-time NBA All Star, who has a museum and a bronze statue in the Chinese capital to commemorate his impact on the court, said his ultimate goal is to one day coach China's national team.

"I made no secret that I wanted to coach basketball here in China and I wanted to be part of the growth and development here. This is definitely the beginning, "Marbury told China Daily in an earlier interview.

His first step might be even tougher than lifting the Ducks to the league title in his first season with the team (2011-12).

Hampered by a lack of leadership on and off the court, the Royal Fighters (formerly known as Beikong Fly Dragons) finished dead last in the 20-team CBA last season with an embarrassing 8-38 record.

The team finished a dismal 17th in 2017-18, even with Marbury and two other foreign players on its roster.

Owned by State-controlled Beijing Enterprises Group (BG), the Royal Fighters have pinned high hopes on Marbury's leadership to vault the team back into playoff contention.

"We've hit the bottom line and it's time to bounce back," said Tian Zhenqing, president of BG.

"Starting from this year we will strive for higher goals, looking to join the elite competitors in the league."

Although Marbury has no previous professional coaching experience, his celebrity appeal, work ethic and history of mentorship with younger teammates has earned him kudos from players and fans alike.

"He is a good mentor on and off the court," said national team guard Fang Shuo, Marbury's former teammate on the Ducks.

"He pays great attention to details while working with young guys, such as how low you should stay in perimeter defense and when to go for the basket and when to shoot. He never hesitates to correct bad moves."

Marbury got his first taste of barking instructions from the sideline during the basketball prelims at the 2013 National Games in Chongqing, when Beijing's then head coach Min Lulei invited him to be an assistant.

After being selected fourth overall by the Milwaukee Bucks at the 1996 NBA Draft, Marbury spent 13 years in the NBA, playing for five teams.

He moved to China during the 2009-10 season to join the CBA's Shanxi Brave Dragons, then spent a year with the Foshan Dralions (now Guangzhou Loong Lions) before launching a six-season stint with the Ducks, from 2011-17.

In 2015, in recognition of his contributions in helping promote the game and build a hoops culture in Beijing, Marbury became the first foreign player to receive a Chinese green card, granting him permanent residency.

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2019-06-26 07:47:42
<![CDATA[Dalian sees Benitez as potential savior]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/26/content_37484944.htm Struggling Dalian Yifang could turn to respected Spanish coach Rafa Benitez in a bid to revive its flagging Chinese Super League fortunes.

On Monday it was confirmed that Benitez, a Champions League winner with Liverpool, is leaving English Premier League club Newcastle United following three years at the helm.

Benitez has reportedly become frustrated with the size of the transfer kitty made available to him by owner Mike Ashley.

"It is with disappointment that we announce manager Rafael Benitez will leave Newcastle United upon the expiry of his contract on 30th June, 2019," said a statement from the Magpies.

 

Rafa Benitez on Monday left Newcastle United and is reportedly mulling an offer to become the new coach of Chinese Super League outfit Dalian Yifang. Reuters

"We have worked hard to extend Rafa's contract over a significant period of time, but it has not been - and will not be - possible to reach an agreement with Rafa and his representatives."

Sky Sports claims that Dalian could be the next destination for Benitez, with the bigspending team reportedly prepared to make him the best-paid coach in the CSL, on a salary of around $15 million.

If he opts for China, former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Valencia boss Benitez would inherit a team in turmoil, with a dispute involving Belgian star Yannick Carrasco piling on the misery for current coach Choi Kang-hee.

Despite the much-heralded signing of Slovakian playmaker Marek Hamsik from Napoli in February, Dalian is currently only 11th in the CSL.

Carrasco is another of the club's big-name imports, arriving last year along with Nicolas Gaitan from Atletico Madrid for a combined fee of around $58 million.

Gaitan has since departed for Major League Soccer's Chicago Fire and Carrasco is now seemingly angling for a return to Europe, with the winger missing training sessions and blaming a missed flight for his no-show for a June 15 loss to Hebei China Fortune.

Dalian has taken a dim view of Carrasco's apparent disinterest.

"Given that Dalian Yifang player Yannick Carrasco missed the match against Hebei China Fortune for no reason and he has been showing a negative attitude in training, the club has decided to sanction the player," a club statement read.

"The penalties include a self-review to the team, a fine and a training suspension. Our club has always focused on discipline and no one is above the club's collective good. We've been treating all the players equally. If anyone crosses the red line, there will be serious punishment."

Carrasco was omitted from last Sunday's lineup for a 2-2 draw with Tianjin Tianhai.

"For the president and the owner of the club, I wanted to play this match. Unfortunately the staff decided otherwise," Carrasco wrote on social media.

"The attitude of some of the club's leaders and my teammates towards me is incomprehensible given my commitment and performance with the team so far. The team needs me and I want to help the team. This problem needs to be solved."

As the war of words escalated, coach Choi said after the match: "The club is considering importing big-name foreigners, but currently the priority is to earn more points.

"If a foreign player wants to fit in to the team better in the future, he needs to display better professionalism and more devotion."

If Benitez does take the reins, he could soon be boosted by some attacking reinforcements, with reports in Italy suggesting Dalian has revived its interest in Lazio and Italy striker Ciro Immobile.

The 59-year-old Benitez was adored by Newcastle fans, guiding the northeastern club to promotion in 2017 and recording respectable 10th and 13th-place finishes in its last two EPL campaigns.

He secured legendary status at Anfield by steering Liverpool to its famous 2005 Champions League triumph, when the Reds fought back from 3-0 down to beat AC Milan in a match dubbed the 'Miracle of Istanbul'.

However, Benitez has not always garnered such adoration.

An ill-fated spell at Real Madrid will be remembered most for his falling out with Cristiano Ronaldo. And despite winning the Europa League with Chelsea, Benitez became a figure of ridicule among Blues fans during a caretaker spell at the London club.

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2019-06-26 07:47:42
<![CDATA[Digest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/26/content_37484943.htm Soccer

Saints appoint China's Gao as new chairman

English Premier League club Southampton on Monday confirmed Chinese businessman Gao Jisheng as its new chairman.

Gao, the Saints' majority shareholder with an 80 percent stake in the team, succeeds Ralph Krueger, who left toward the end of last season to join the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League.

"Majority shareholder Mr Jisheng will now take the position of chairman of the club and (parent company) St. Mary's Football Group," said a Southampton statement.

With Gao based in China, Saints said that Martin Semmens will move into a new role as chief executive to "lead the club on a day-to-day basis".

The club also confirmed that Austrian Raalph Hasenhuttl will remain as first team coach after avoiding relegation in the final weeks of last season.

US and Sweden into Cup quarterfinals

Megan Rapinoe netted two penalties as holder the United States beat Spain 2-1 in Reims on Monday to march on to a quarterfinal showdown against host France at the Women's World Cup.

"I hope it's wild and crazy and the fans are crazy and that there's tons of media around it," Rapinoe said of Friday's quarterfinal.

"I think it's going to be incredible for the women's game. You have two heavy hitters meeting in the knockout rounds. It's everything you want."

Sweden joined the US in the last eight as a 55th-minute strike by Stina Blackstenius saw the Scandinavians edge Canada 1-0 in a back-and-forth match in Paris.

Goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl brilliantly kept out a second-half penalty to save the Swedes, who will next face two-time champion Germany.

Winter Olympics

2026 host Milan to learn from Beijing

Giuseppe Sala, mayor of Milan, said on Monday the Italian city will consult with Beijing in preparation for hosting the 2026 Winter Olympics.

Milan and neighboring Cortina were elected as joint hosts of the Games at the 134th session of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Monday.

Beijing and Zhangjiakou are co-hosts of the 2022 edition.

"It will be a great honor to receive the Olympic flag at the closing ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games in 2022," Sala told Xinhua.

"For sure it will be an occasion to discuss with the Chinese, to learn suggestions and to share experiences."

The 61-year-old added the Winter Olympics will serve as a great chance to foster cooperation with China and the World Expo.

Sala was CEO of the 2015 Expo, hosted by Milan. Shanghai staged the 2010 edition, and Sala said: "I love China. I spent many weeks in Shanghai during my previous career.

"For the same reason, there will be lot of cooperation with China."

Motor Sports

Brazil's president backs Rio's Formula One bid

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday vowed to move the 2021 Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix to Rio de Janeiro after the contract with Sao Paulo's Interlagos track expires next year.

Bolsonaro said a yet-to-be-built private track in Rio would have a capacity for 130,000 fans compared to 60,000 at the Sao Paulo venue.

"No one is trying to take Formula One away from Sao Paulo. The race will stay in Brazil, that's what counts," Bolsonaro said at a media conference also attended by F1 chairman Chase Carey and Rio governor Wilson Witzel.

Carey said that nothing had been decided and he would discuss it with both cities.

Carey will meet Sao Paulo governor Joao Doria, a possible presidential candidate in 2022 who is keen to keep the race in Brazil's largest city, on Tuesday.

Sao Paulo has hosted the Brazilian Grand Prix since 1972.

Golf

Woods dropped from drunk-driver death suit

Tiger Woods is no longer a defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of a drunk driver who died in a car crash.

Attorneys for the parents of Nicholas Immesberger filed an amended complaint last Friday in Palm Beach County court in Florida, dropping Woods from the suit.

The complaint still targets The Woods restaurant in Jupiter, in which the golfer is an investor, and restaurant general manager, Erica Herman, who is Woods' girlfriend.

The lawsuit, which was filed in May, says Immesberger, who worked at The Woods, was served excessive amounts of alcohol before the Dec 10 crash. It says Herman recruited Immesberger as a bartender there despite knowing he was an alcoholic. It alleges restaurant employees, managers and owners let Immesberger drive after being over-served alcohol.

Murphy miscues in bid to qualify for the Open

Former snooker world champion Shaun Murphy and ex-international cricketer Sean Ervine failed to make the cut as they swapped the cue and bat for golf clubs in trying to qualify for the British Open on Monday.

Both were eligible to enter qualifying thanks to a scratch handicap, but it's not likely they will be challenging the tour professionals in their adopted sport.

Murphy, ranked 14th in the world in snooker, carded a 12-over-par 84 at County Louth in Ireland.

"It is all a bit tongue-in-cheek and a bit of a laugh," he said.

"The one thing I do have going for me is that I already have a full-time job."

The 148th British Open will take place at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland from July 18-21.

Xinhua - Agencies

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2019-06-26 07:47:42
<![CDATA[Roger not ready to concede his throne]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/25/content_37484458.htm HALLE WESTFALEN, Germany - Roger Federer expressed sympathy for the younger generation of tennis stars on Sunday, saying their successes outside of the Grand Slams are unfairly overlooked.

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But Switzerland's ageless wonder says next generation deserves more respect

HALLE WESTFALEN, Germany - Roger Federer expressed sympathy for the younger generation of tennis stars on Sunday, saying their successes outside of the Grand Slams are unfairly overlooked.

Federer won the ATP tournament in Halle for a record-stretching 10th time, notching his 102nd career singles title.

He was one of two 37-year-olds to be playing in an ATP final on the same day, with veteran Spaniard Feliciano Lopez winning the singles title at the Queen's Fever-Tree Championships in London.

Federer said the continuing success of older players such as himself, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic has left little elbow room for the younger generation.

"As long as me, Rafa and Novak are around it is not going to be easy for a young guy to come up and dominate," Federer said.

"Maybe it would be good for the sport if they did, I don't know. People seem to like it as it is."

But the Swiss legend said the success of players such as Stefanos Tsitsipas, Borna Coric and Karen Khachanov should not be overlooked.

Coric, 22, beat Federer in the Halle final last year, while 23-year-old Khachanov broke into the top 10 this year after defeating Djokovic in straight sets in the final of the Paris Masters last November.

Federer said such triumphs were not being given enough recognition, drowned out by the overwhelming focus on the four majors.

"I think there is too much focus on the Grand Slams these days, which isn't fair," said Federer.

"In my day, it was a huge success to win your first Masters 1000 tournament and break into the top 10.

"Khachanov beat Djokovic in the Paris final. It's not like he beat any old tourist."

'Sets me up nicely'

Federer said he was ready for next month's Wimbledon after waltzing past Belgium's David Goffin 7-6 (2),6-1 to nail down Sunday's victory in Germany.

Federer remains unbeaten on grass so far this season.

"It's unbelievable. I never thought when I first played here that I would win 10 titles," he said.

"Often when it went well for me here, I also had successful Wimbledons, so this sets me up nicely."

Federer is chasing a ninth Wimbledon crown in London as he looks to extend and defend his record of 20 career majors.

Long-term rival Nadal moved to within two titles of Federer's record with his 12th French Open triumph earlier this month, while world No 1 Djokovic is just five short with 15 career majors.

The win at Halle means Federer will be second seed ahead of Nadal at the All-England Club, and the Swiss said that his past performances at the tournament would boost his confidence.

"It's always good at my age to prove myself that I can last five matches in six days and tough ones along the way," he said.

Federer endured a rough ride in the early rounds in Halle, battling to hard-fought, three-set victories over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Roberto Bautista Agut.

Things got easier in the latter stages as he thrashed Andy Murray's new doubles partner Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the semifinals before dispatching Goffin.

Federer held off three break points early in the first set before prevailing in the tiebreaker.

Looking unsettled, Goffin then gifted Federer the opening game of the second set with a double fault on break point.

From there, the Swiss never looked back, breaking Goffin twice more.

"I thought David was actually better than me in the first 10 games, "said Federer.

Goffin agreed, adding: "I thought I started really well, there was great intensity in the first set and I was very sharp.

"I had opportunities, but you have to take them against Roger. This guy is a pretty good player."

It marks the first time Federer has reached double figures for victories at any individual tournament.

He has triumphed eight times at both Wimbledon and the Dubai Open, and has won his home tournament in Basel on nine occasions.

"I've never won a tournament 10 times before, so I will remember forever that I did so here in Halle," he said.

"I didn't think about how it would feel until it was all over."

Agence France - presse

 

Switzerland's Roger Federer hoists the trophy after winning Sunday's Halle Open final against Belgium's David Goffin at Gerry Weber Stadion in Halle, Germany. The 7-6, 6-1 triumph earned Federer his 10th title at the tournament. Leon Kuegeler / Reuters

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2019-06-25 07:35:26
<![CDATA[Hamilton: Drivers not to blame for boredom]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/25/content_37484457.htm LE CASTELLET, France - After winning the French Grand Prix on Sunday, Lewis Hamilton told Formula One's critics not to blame the drivers for "boring" processional races, but instead to turn their focus on the rule-makers.

Britain's defending five-time world champion produced a flawless demonstration of racing to triumph from pole position for the second straight year in France.

In a largely uneventful race on a sweltering afternoon at Le Castellet circuit, Hamilton led his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas home as they extended the Silver Arrows winning run to 10 races.

It was hardly entertaining stuff for the fans at the track or the global television audience, and Hamilton warned that the sport needed to consider making "serious changes".

Speaking after his 79th career victory, he told reporters they should consider who should be blamed before drawing any conclusions.

"Don't point fingers at the drivers because we don't write the rules, "said Hamilton.

"We have nothing to do with the money and all that kind of stuff.

"You should put the pressure on the people at the head who should be doing their job. I think they are trying to, but for many, many years they have made bad decisions."

Hamilton's relentless success for a dominant Mercedes team has been celebrated in some quarters as an era of greatness, but others - including Hamilton himself - have said they want to see more on-track battles and closer competition.

As a keen follower of other racing series, including IndyCar in the United States, Hamilton has often said Formula One needs to change its technical rulebook to encourage much closer racing.

He said that he and Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg last week attended a meeting with Formula One Management (FOM) and the sport's ruling body, the International Motoring Federation (FIA).

He said they discussed plans for an overhaul of the rules for 2021 and the introduction of cars that can tolerate the close proximity of other cars without aerodynamic problems.

Hamilton said he welcomed the fact that the sport's ruling bodies were open to hearing the views of the drivers.

"I had nothing to gain by going there, but if there is anything I can do to help, I will," he added.

"They've been making all these decisions and never once had a driver's input. So, if that can be decisive and help the fans to get better racing, then I would be proud."

Still, he would not be drawn to say he had confidence that the initiative would result in the necessary dramatic changes to transform the racing and eliminate dull processions.

"I have faith that it's going to be better and I really hope so," he said.

"It was encouraging that they allow us to be there and they're really welcoming.

"I hope they will continue to have us there - a couple of us drivers each time."

He added that he remained optimistic.

"I think they've extended their decision on making the rules and I think they need to because they are nowhere near where it should be.

"They've got to make some serious changes to the decision they have already made for how 2021 should be.

"But I am encouraged that Ross (Brawn, F1 director) and his team are working, for the first time, on a real aero package that hopefully will have an impact."

Agence France - presse

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2019-06-25 07:35:26
<![CDATA['Shameful' scenes enrage England boss Neville]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/25/content_37484456.htm VALENCIENNES, France - England coach Phil Neville said he was "utterly ashamed" of the behavior of Cameroon's players after his Lionesses defeated the African side 3-0 to march into the quarterfinals of the Women's World Cup on Sunday night.

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Cameroon antics leave bitter taste for coach after stormy World Cup clash

VALENCIENNES, France - England coach Phil Neville said he was "utterly ashamed" of the behavior of Cameroon's players after his Lionesses defeated the African side 3-0 to march into the quarterfinals of the Women's World Cup on Sunday night.

England forward Toni Duggan appeared to be spat at by an opposition player, while Cameroon twice threatened to walk off the pitch in protest at VAR decisions upheld by Chinese referee Qin Liang. English players were also elbowed in the face and stomped on in separate incidents.

"I sat through the 90 minutes of football there and felt ashamed - proud of my own players' behavior under circumstances that I've never seen on a soccer field before, and completely and utterly ashamed of the behavior of the opposition," raged Neville.

Cameroon players looked ready to stage a walk-off after Qin overturned her own decision to disallow England's second goal - scored by Ellen White - after consultation with the video assistant referee.

Replays on the big screen inside Stade du Hainaut showed that her decision was correct.

The situation was repeated early in the second half when Ajara Nchout scored for Cameroon, but this time the goal was disallowed after Qin consulted the video ref.

Cameroon coach Alain Djeumfa felt his players had been wronged by both those decisions, as well as 14th-minute incident when goalkeeper Annette Ndom was penalized for picking up Augustine Ejangue's back-pass and Steph Houghton scored from the resulting indirect freekick.

"I felt the match got away from us when the freekick was awarded against us in the 14th minute. I think that was a disgrace," said Djeumfa.

"We didn't want to concede a goal in the first 20 minutes but the officials wanted something different.

"After that goal the players' rhythm dropped, but I would like to take my hat off to them for their performance despite the refereeing errors."

Djeumfa denied his team had threatened to abandon the game.

"The players never refused to play. They were very professional, "he added.

"We came back to 2-1 and again the goal was disallowed by VAR. I think if that goal had stood we would've had a different outcome."

Neville refuted Djeumfa's claims of bias, telling his opposite number to "get your ship in order first before you start throwing stones".

He also commended striker Duggan for keeping a cool head when Ejangue appeared to spit on her arm in the 14th minute.

"I think it's pretty clear, so that's unacceptable, and I will praise Toni Duggan because that is the worst form of anything that you can do on a football field really, "said Neville, whose team secured victory with a 58th-minute Alex Greenwood strike.

There was more controversy in stoppage time when Alexandra Takounda escaped with a yellow card for a nasty stomp on Houghton's ankle - again following a VAR review.

Former Manchester United defender Neville was also unhappy that fights had supposedly broken out among VIP guests at Stade de Hainaut and at the hotel shared by both teams.

"I can't sit here now and just gloss over it, fudge it. I have got to tell the truth," the 42-year-old said.

"It takes you back to the times when you were a kid, and you lost and you went home crying with your ball.

"When I started out in management, Arsene Wenger told me the team mirrors the manger. Their team mirrored their manager. If that was my players they would never play for England again."

Next up for England is a lasteight meeting with Norway in Le Havre on Thursday.

China Daily - AFP

 

Cameroon's Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene remonstrates with England's Lucy Bronze as referee Qin Liang looks on during Sunday's World Cup last-16 match in Valenciennes, France. Reuters

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2019-06-25 07:35:26
<![CDATA[Marta has message for successors]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/25/content_37484455.htm Brazil star Marta issued an emotional appeal to her heirs on Sunday, telling them they are responsible for the survival of the women's game in her soccer-obsessed country.

The 33-year-old Marta, dubbed 'Pele in a skirt' by the Brazil men's great, is widely considered to be the best female player of all time.

However, her dream of winning a World Cup for the first time died again on Sunday in a 2-1 loss to host France in the last 16 of this year's global showpiece.

"We're asking for support, you have to cry at the beginning and smile at the end," said Marta, the record World Cup scorer with 17 goals.

"You have to want more, train more, to be ready to play 90 minutes, plus 30 minutes extra time and every minute.

"This is what I ask the girls," she added before hailing fellow veterans Formiga and Cristiane who are also likely to have played in their last World Cup.

"Formiga is not forever, neither is Marta, neither is Cristiane. Women's football depends on you to survive. Think about it, savor it."

On Sunday, host France survived a scare to beat Brazil in extra time and reach the quarterfinals when captain Amandine Henry scored a dramatic winner.

Lyon midfielder Henry struck in the 107th minute after Thaisa's equalizer for Brazil had forced a 1-1 draw in 90 minutes. Valerie Gauvin had opened the scoring in the 52nd minute.

France will face either reigning champion the United States or Spain in the last eight in Paris on Friday.

AFP

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2019-06-25 07:35:26
<![CDATA[Reborn Barty secures top spot]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/25/content_37484454.htm SYDNEY - Hot on the heels of her French Open victory, Ashleigh Barty officially claimed the women's world No 1 ranking on Monday, overthrowing Japan's Naomi Osaka by winning the Birmingham Classic in England.

It's the first time an Australian woman has held the top spot since seven-time Grand Slam champion Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976.

The 23-year-old is staying typically humble, though, telling reporters in Birmingham: "I'm nowhere near her (Cawley's) status...to be mentioned in the same sentence is incredible."

Barty has had a stellar start to 2019, recording an impressive 36 match victories and only six defeats.

The 6-3, 7-5 win over Germany's Julia Goerges in Birmingham puts her on a 12-match win streak.

 

"You always dream of it as a little kid, but for it to become a reality is incredible, it really is," said Barty, who claimed her first Grand Slam title by beating Marketa Vondrousova in straight sets at Roland Garros earlier this month.

"It's been the most incredible journey for myself and my team. To have this become a reality... I didn't think that was in my realm this year.

"We started from scratch without a ranking and now to be where we are, not only for me, is a massive, massive achievement for them."

It wasn't so long ago that Barty gave up on tennis altogether.

Back in 2014, the Queensland native took time away from the sport to play cricket for the Brisbane Heat.

Struggling to deal with the intense pressure and schedule of international tennis, Barty said she was burnt out and wanted "to live a normal life".

She rejoined the WTA tour in 2016 with a ranking of 623 and a determination to make it to the top.

"It's certainly just been the most amazing month of tennis for us and really an amazing three years," she said.

"I have to trust myself and trust that I can execute on those big points, and not just when I'm set point down but also on those crucial 30-all, 15-30 points.

"There's no point that means anything more than the next one, they all have the same value, so it is about trying to execute as best as I can on that point and if it's at 15-love, or set point down, it doesn't change for me."

Barty now heads into next week's Wimbledon championship as the women's No 1 seed.

Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley commended Barty's "remarkable historical accomplishment".

"It's a really hard thing to do and to achieve, that is just fantastic," he told the Channel Nine TV network.

"I know her, she's humble about it. She just wants to get back on the tennis court and have a good hit."

Sydney's Daily Telegraph crowned her the "new queen" of tennis, with her down-to-earth approach a refreshing change for Australian tennis fans more used to the histrionics of Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic.

"With incredible versatility, perseverance, and focus, Ash Barty is an inspiration to the next generation of young players in Australia. Well done!" Billie Jean King tweeted.

Xinhua - AFP

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2019-06-25 07:35:26
<![CDATA[Digest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/25/content_37484453.htm Rhythmic Gymnastics

Zhao sweeps golds at Asian championships

Zhao Yating captured all four apparatus individual gold medals up for grabs at the Asian championships in Bangkok on Sunday.

In addition to her historic sweep in the hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon disciplines, Zhao picked up the individual all-around silver medal with 72.500 points - 50 points behind Sabina Tashkenbaeva of Uzbekistan.

Japan won the team all-around gold while Uzbekistan and China took silver and bronze respectively in the Olympic event.

Uzbekistan maintained its domination by winning the overall team title with a total of 146.700 points. China was second with 141.900 while Japan finished third with 139.750.

Soccer

Messi unimpressed by Brazilian pitches

Argentina captain Lionel Messi slammed the condition of Brazil's Copa America pitches after his team secured a berth in the knockout phase with a 2-0 win over Qatar on Sunday.

The uneven and patchy playing surfaces have drawn complaints from a number of players and officials, including Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni and Uruguay striker Luis Suarez.

"All of the pitches that we've played on have been very bad," Messi told reporters after Lautaro Martinez and Sergio Aguero netted in either half at Arena do Gremio.

"It's very difficult to play well when the pitch is like that. You always have to stop the ball," added the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

Basketball

Curry firmly focused on playing for Dream Team

Three-time NBA champion Steph Curry has set his sights on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics - and a gold medal that would complete his career set.

The Golden State Warriors sharpshooter, who has captured world titles with Team USA, pulled out of the 2016 Rio Olympic squad with an injury but appears set to join a Dream Team that could also boast the likes of LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard at next year's Games.

"I know the energy here is going to be amazing," Curry said during a weekend stop in Tokyo.

"I haven't played in the Olympics before. I've played on two World Cup teams, so I've had the experience of representing my country. But the Olympics, from everybody that I've talked to that's played, there's no comparison to that experience."

Team USA has won gold at the last three Olympics and will again be the favorite in Tokyo.

Tennis

Bankrupt Becker puts items up for auction

Trophies and personal effects belonging to German tennis star Boris Becker are being auctioned online by British firm Wyles Hardy to partially clear the bankrupt champion's debts.

The youngest winner in Wimbledon history, who claimed his first of three titles at age 17, is auctioning off 82 items, including medals, trophies, watches and photographs.

The sale will end on July 11, Wyles Hardy said on its website.

Some of the trophies include a replica of a Challenge Cup awarded to Becker following one of his Wimbledon wins, and the three-quarter size replica of the Renshaw Cup presented after he became the youngest ever Grand Slam singles champion.

Ice Hockey

Subban not shocked by trade to Devils

PK Subban wasn't exactly shocked when the three-time NHL All-Star defenseman was traded from the Nashville Predators to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.

"I've been through the process before," Subban said in a conference call with media on Sunday. "We kind of knew there would be changes, especially after losing in the first round of the playoffs. I didn't know what to expect."

Subban was traded for defenseman Steven Santini, prospect Jeremy Davies and two second-round draft picks.

Xinhua - Agencies

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2019-06-25 07:35:26
<![CDATA[Germany going through the gears]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/24/content_37483907.htm GRENOBLE, France - Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg warned the best is yet to come from her team after it cruised into the quarterfinals of the World Cup with ominous ease on Saturday night.

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Coach claims best yet to come from two-time champ after last-16 cruise

GRENOBLE, France - Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg warned the best is yet to come from her team after it cruised into the quarterfinals of the World Cup with ominous ease on Saturday night.

Goals from Alexandra Popp, Sara Daebritz (penalty) and Lea Schueller saw the second-ranked Germans brush aside Nigeria 3-0 in Saturday's opening last-16 clash, setting up a last-eight meeting with either Sweden or Canada next Saturday.

"Coaches are never 100 percent happy," said Voss-Tecklenburg. "We are very happy to be in the quarterfinals. We have had great performances in very different matches under difficult weather conditions.

"We have one week to relax. We will probably take one day completely off without football.

"Next Monday we have to focus on our performance in the quarterfinals, and make sure at certain phases of the match we can gain more ground and become more confident without getting frustrated by details," she added.

"Some of our best players are not able to play at the moment, but we've still performed in an excellent way, leaving all on the pitch and pushing to our limits. It's valuable. There is no reason that we don't feel happy even though we are quite exhausted."

Two-time champion Germany expects to be able to call on star playmaker Dzsenifer Marozsan for the quarterfinal clash in Rennes. The Lyon ace sustained a foot injury in Germany's opening 1-0 victory over China but returned as an unused substitute against Nigeria.

"She's able to play the next match," Voss-Tecklenburg said of Marozsan.

Whether it's fifth-ranked Canada or ninth-ranked Sweden as Germany's opponent, Voss-Tecklenburg expects a tough battle in the quarters.

"It will be a game on a high level - 50-50 no matter which opponent it will be. We have to get prepared, go to next step, and focus on this single game," she said.

"If we manage to get to the final, we will do our best. But we just try to be in a very serious way preparing for our tasks, trying to relax the side and staying realistic. Everyone wants to stay as long as possible. We are ready to take the next challenge and hope to finish in a positive way.

"It is a knockout game. For many players, they feel pressure and we don't know how they are going to handle such situations. That's why I'm especially happy about the outcome. That's why I hope Marozsan will be back, as she's responsible and able to give confidence to other players," noted Voss-Tecklenburg.

It was an extra special night for striker Popp, who broke the deadlock against Nigeria in her 100th international appearance and was voted player of the match.

"It's not that important if me or someone else scores. It's important to score early and get confidence throughout the game. We got more confidence, and it was an optimistic situation for us," she said.

"We are excited to see what will happen in Monday's match (between Canada and Sweden). Both teams are physically strong. Canada has plenty of pace and has very experienced players, so I'm excited to see how their opponent will cope. We already played against Sweden and performed quite well. But that was a friendly, and it's totally different situation in the quarterfinals.

Norway ousts Aussies

Later on Saturday evening, Norway joined Germany in the quarters by beating Australia in a penalty shootout.

With seven minutes of normal time left, Elise Kellond-Knights equalized direct from a corner to cancel out Isabell Herlovsen's firsthalf opener and take the game to extra time, during which the Aussies had Alanna Kennedy sent off for a trip on Lisa-Marie Utland.

The Matildas then withstood a late Norwegian siege but couldn't hold their nerve in the shootout as misses from Sam Kerr and Emily Gielnik sealed their fate.

The 1995 champion, which is missing Ballon d'Or winner Ada Hegerberg because of her dispute with Norway's soccer authorities, will next face either England or Cameroon in Le Havre on Thursday.

Xinhua

 

Germany's Alexandra Popp (No 11) celebrates with teammates after opening the scoring in the 3-0 last-16 victory over Nigeria at the Women's World Cup in Grenoble, France on Saturday. Reuters

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2019-06-24 08:34:44
<![CDATA[China plotting Italy upset]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/24/content_37483906.htm MONTPELLIER, France - Team China hopes slicker passing and extra urgency when out of possession can help it stun Italy in the last 16 of the Women's World Cup on Tuesday.

The Steel Roses squeezed into the knockout stage last Monday with a nervy 0-0 draw in Group B against Spain to qualify as one of the best third-place finishers.

China now heads into Tuesday's game in Montpellier as underdog to Group C winner Italy.

But defender Han Peng reckons the Roses can find an extra gear against the Italians and produce an upset.

"We need to improve our passing. We did well enough in defending as we didn't concede too many chances in the group games," Han said.

"Now we have a stronger desire to win, so we will press harder."

Han hopes a week-long break between matches will mean China is fresh for Tuesday's match.

"We have rested for some days, and we're feeling good now," said Han, who will likely be tasked with stopping Italy's star player, Barbara Bonansea.

The 28-year-old Bonansea has been in impressive form in France, hitting the net twice so far.

Han says responsibility for stopping the Juventus midfielder won't rest solely with her and it will be more of a team effort.

China is hopeful striker Wang Shanshan will return to the starting XI against Italy. The hotshot twisted her ankle against Spain and was withdrawn at halftime.

She resumed training on Saturday, however, and coach Jia Xiuquan said: "When she was substituted, we lost a stronghold up front. We hope she can recover in time."

Xinhua

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2019-06-24 08:34:44
<![CDATA[Digest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/24/content_37483905.htm Olympics

High expectations for Beijing 2022 mascot

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said he expects China's mascot for the 2022 Winter Olympics to be influenced by Chinese philosophy.

The mascot is due to be unveiled before the end of the year, according to organizers.

Bach said of the potential mascot design: "This is up to the Chinese people and they always have a very good feeling to find good examples of their philosophy and their awareness of life. I'm sure the mascot will be friendly and welcoming."

Bach made the remarks at the Olympic Capital Run in Lausanne, Switzerland, which this year attracted over 2,000 participants and featured China's former Olympic taekwondo champion Wu Jingyu.

Soccer

Guo'an in pole position at CSL midway point

A last-gasp winner from Renato Augusto maintained Beijing Guo'an's lead at the top of the Chinese Super League standings at the midway point in the season.

Augusto fired home from outside the area to earn a 3-2 victory over Guangzhou R&F at Workers' Stadium and keep Guo'an five points ahead of nearest rivals Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai SIPG.

Wang Ziming broke the deadlock for the host in the sixth minute before Israeli striker Eran Zahavi struck twice for R&F in the 22nd and 36th minutes.

Guo'an captain Yu Dabao netted his fourth goal of the season in the 54th minute before Augusto's late heroics earned the points.

In Shanghai, defending champion SIPG beat Beijing Renhe 3-0 thanks to goals from Oscar, Li Shenglong and Elkeson. Evergrande, which sits third behind SIPG on goal difference, defeated Hebei China Fortune 2-1.

Zenga linked with Iran's Persepolis

Italian coach Walter Zenga has been linked with a move to Iranian club Persepolis, the Persian Football website reported on Saturday.

The 59-year-old former Azzurri goalkeeper has been out of a job since being fired by Serie B club Venezia in March.

Zenga previously coached Emirati clubs Al Ain, Al Nasr, Al Jazira and Al Shaab, as well as Catania and Sampdoria in his homeland.

Persepolis is looking for a replacement for Branko Ivankovic, who left to lead Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia.

Last season, Croatian Ivankovic led Persepolis to a domestic treble and the final of the AFC Champions League, where it lost to Japan's Kashima Antlers.

Volleyball

Iran defeats Australia to seal final-six spot

Iran on Saturday became the first team to secure a place in the final six of the FIVB Men's Volleyball Nations League.

Spiker Amir Ghafour was the star of the show as Iran swept Australia 25-19, 25-19, 25-14 in Teheran.

The victory ensures Iran remains at the top of the standings and reaches the final six with four matches to spare.

Brazil also secured a ticket to the final six on July 10-14 in Chicago when it beat Germany in Cuiaba on Saturday. Team USA qualifies automatically as host.

Baseball

Stanton lets loose as Yanks keep rolling

Giancarlo Stanton hit a pair of go-ahead, two-run singles, both off third baseman Yuli Gurriel's glove, and the New York Yankees beat the Houston Astros 7-5 on Saturday night for their eighth straight win.

The Astros lost their seventh in a row in the matchup of American League division leaders.

Stanton made it 4-2 in the sixth inning with a hard grounder that skipped off Gurriel's mitt and into shallow left field - ruled a hit on a tough call for the official scorer.

Stanton smashed an almost identical ball an inning later, which Gurriel dived for and tipped. That one got past him, too, this time for an undisputed single against Ryan Pressly (1-1) for a 7-5 lead.

Xinhua - AP

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2019-06-24 08:34:44
<![CDATA[Zapping e-sports' talent shortage]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/24/content_37483904.htm As e-sports' inexorable rise continues, there is no shortage of gamers vying to join its lucrative pro ranks. The industry, however, is still struggling to fill the type of operational and support positions that keep its ever-expanding wheels turning.

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Booming sector overflowing with opportunities in operational roles

As e-sports' inexorable rise continues, there is no shortage of gamers vying to join its lucrative pro ranks. The industry, however, is still struggling to fill the type of operational and support positions that keep its ever-expanding wheels turning.

The dearth of manpower was highlighted in a report released at the Global E-sports Summit and Tencent E-sports Annual Conference last Thursday in Boao, Hainan province.

According to the 2019 Global E-sports Development Report, there are an estimated 150,000 job vacancies, covering over 100 occupations, waiting to be filled in the sector.

The report pinpointed a pressing need for talent in tournament organization, media content production, business operation, marketing and technology support.

"After two decades of development, the Chinese e-sports market is embracing its best opportunity of growth," said Ren Yuxin, chief operating officer of Tencent.

"Now more and more people are joining the e-sports industry, and that's why the sector is growing to be more solid and marching toward a brighter future."

According to the report, about 71,000 people worked in the Chinese e-sports industry until the end of 2018, while only 26 percent of roles have enough manpower.

The talent shortage comes as the sector continues to boom. Last year, the Chinese market was worth 8.5 billion yuan ($1.2 billion), with that figure expected to exceed 13 billion yuan by the end of 2019.

E-sports' fan base is also snowballing. In 2018, there were about 320 million gamers and fans in China, a figure that is projected to rise to 350 million by the end of this year. Globally, it's estimated that e-sports fans will exceed 450 million by 2019.

"We have all witnessed the rapid development of e-sports in recent years, but we still recognize that there are stereotypes and biased opinions of e-sports," said Kenneth Fok, president of the Asian Electronic Sports Federation. "So, there is a lot more work to be done to ensure the healthy development of the industry."

Professional e-sports clubs these days are slickly run operations that require expertise beyond the nimble-fingered skills of their geeky stars.

Take top Chinese team Royal Never Give Up (RNG), for example. Players like Jian Zihao, aka Uzi, boast vast support teams comprised of match analysts, translators and therapists.

The club has its own logistics, marketing and public relations departments - based in Shanghai - and its own home stadium, in Beijing.

The vastness of its operation is remarkable considering that, when the club was formed six years ago, RNG players practiced in residential buildings and played competitions in internet bars or warehouses.

Nowadays, RNG's allure even extends beyond the on-screen action.

In May, the club hosted an e-sports-themed debate tournament in Beijing, which it claimed was the first of its kind in history. The 28-day event attracted 15 domestic and international university debate teams.

"It's actually a very cool experience to debate e-sports-related topics at RNG's stadium," said Guo Hangchu, a debater for Fudan University.

"Through the tournament, I improved my knowledge of the e-sports sector and it also challenged stereotypes of the sport.

"When I graduate, I will look for opportunities to work in internet companies. Maybe one day, I will join the e-sports sector myself, not as a gamer but as someone who supports the stars behind the scenes."

Meanwhile, e-sports continues to receive support from local governments in China, with Hainan the latest to get on board.

The island province announced at Thursday's summit that it will launch a 'Thousand Talents Program' to provide preferential policies for e-sports talents to base themselves in Hainan.

Xi'an in Shaanxi province also offers similar policies, with the city this year hosting two grand finals for domestic and international competitions of Tencent mobile hit Honor of Kings.

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2019-06-24 08:34:44
<![CDATA[Sui and Han headline China Cup]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/24/content_37483903.htm

Reigning world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong and twotime bronze medalist Jin Boyang will lead China's charge when the 2019/20 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating visits Chongqing this November.

The fourth event of seven in the series, the 2019 Cup of China will be held in the southwest city from Nov 8-10. The season opener, Skate America, runs from Oct 18-20 in Las Vegas.

Sui and Han will be among the favorites in Chongqing, while GP final runners-up Peng Cheng and Jin Yang will also be expected to challenge for honors on home ice.

Italy's Nicole Della Monica and Matteo Guarise, set to make a fourth appearance at the China Cup, will be among some of the top foreign talent on show.

In the men's competition, Jin, who finished fifth at the world championships in March this year, will face arch rivals Vincent Zhou of the United States and Cha Junhwan of South Korea.

Jin's teammate Yan Han, who missed last season due to injury, is set to continue his comeback in Chongqing.

Fans can expect to see plenty of new faces in the ladies' competition, including Russia's 15-year-old Anna Scherbakova, who is famed for her quadruple jump; Kazakhstan's Elizabet Tursynbaeva, who landed the first ever quadruple salchow in a senior women's competition to take silver at this year's worlds, and rising Chinese stars Chen Hongyi and Zhu Yi.

In the ice dance, Chinese pairs Wang Shiyue and Liu Xinyu and Chen Hong and Sui Zhuoming are slated to take part. The leading contenders are Russia's world silver medalists Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov and Four Continents champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the United States.

According to the ISU Grand Prix 2019/20 nominations, Japan's superstar Yuzuru Hanyu and reigning world champion Nathan Chen of the US will avoid each other in the regular season.

Chen will start his grand prix campaign in Las Vegas, with double Olympic gold medallist Hanyu opening a week later at Skate Canada in Kelowna, British Columbia.

Sui and Han will also take part in the last stop of the Grand Prix, the NHK Cup in Sapporo, Japan, while Peng Cheng and Jin Yang and Jin Boyang will make their season debuts in Las Vegas.

Xinhua

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2019-06-24 08:34:44
<![CDATA[Hudson hailed as one of CBA's greats]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/24/content_37483902.htm Tributes have flooded in for Lester Hudson after the former NBA star's departure from Liaoning Flying Leopards was confirmed last week.

It was revealed on Friday that Hudson will not be renewing his contract with Liaoning, bringing to an end a successful five-year stint during which he won one CBA title.

"Hudson is a great player. He has helped Liaoning achieve brilliant results in the Chinese basketball league and has also helped raise the standard of the game here," said Liu Jingyuan, Flying Leopards president and Chinese Basketball Association vice-president.

Hudson was a second-round pick by the Boston Celtics in the 2009 NBA Draft. He went on to play for the Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers, Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers before joining Liaoning.

During his five years with the Shenyang-based franchise, Hudson helped the team reach the CBA Finals three times, including the 2017-18 title run.

With a total of 10,544 points, Hudson is the third-highest scorer in CBA history and the first foreigner to surpass the 10,000 mark.

"Hudson, who was named MVP twice and led Liaoning to a CBA title, was the undisputed No 1 foreign player in the CBA league," said Sohu Sports.

Chinese basketball commentator Zhang Yifei added his praise, saying: "With his outstanding ability, rich experience, courageous attempts and indefatigable effort, Hudson made history with Liaoning Flying Leopards."

A statement from the Flying Leopards read: 'The Liaoning Flying Leopards are like a running train. They have no end. But everyone on this train has his own destination. When Hudson gets off at his own station, although those who remain on the train are reluctant, they are grateful and wave goodbye.

"We cherish the moments that we shared and will let our great friendship go on. We will always be glad to say welcome home to Hudson when he comes to Liaoning again! Hudson, Liaoning will always be your home, and we will open our arms to you forever."

Xinhua

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2019-06-24 08:34:44
<![CDATA[Rookie Bobby reigns in the rain]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/24/content_37483901.htm China's "Bobby" Bai Zhengkai fired a final-round 67 to secure a two-stroke victory over American David Kocher (73) at the rain-affected Huangshan Championship in Anhui province on Sunday.

The event was reduced to 54 holes due to bad weather over the opening two days.

Bai started the final day four shots behind overnight leader Kocher but managed to turn things around to earn his first victory on the PGA Tour Series-China.

After making the turn at evenpar, Bai racked up five birdies on the back nine to finish with a 12-under total. Chinese amateur Chen Guxin was third on 9-under.

"I thought if I played OK on the front nine, then I could have a chance today," said Bai. "I shot 7-under on the back nine in the first two rounds so I thought I could have a another good run on the back nine again.

"I just really enjoy the back nine and I played it great again. I chipped in on hole 14 which was huge for me and really helped give me the boost to win."

Bai played three years at the University of Central Florida but quit the golf team in order to turn pro in May.

He began playing golf when he was 7 years old and has also received coaching from renowned coach Sean Foley, who has worked with Tiger Woods.

Now the youngster must decide whether he wants to return to school to finish his finance degree or keep playing as a pro.

Either way, Bai was thrilled to get the victory and become the first player from China to win on the tour this season.

"It's awesome to win for my country. It really means a lot," said Bai, who is hoping to follow in the footsteps of current Korn Ferry Tour (formerly the Web.com Tour) player Zhang Xinjun.

"I actually just talked to Xinjun last night and he told me to catch up."

Bai is already looking to keep the momentum going and play in as many pro events as he can this summer while he continues to weigh his options.

"My plan now is I'm going to play a few Korn Ferry Tour Monday qualifiers and play a few more PGA Tour Series-China events. After that I'm not sure. I know I still have to do the schoolwork but I also want to keep playing."

Bai has played in only two previous PGA Tour Series-China tournaments. He tied for 57th in his debut, at the Qinhuangdao Championship, and tied for 28th last week at the Suzhou Open.

"In Florida it rains a lot so I've already gotten used to the rain so it didn't affect me a lot," Bai said of the testing conditions in Huangshan. "I only saw the score on hole 18. So when I saw the scoreboard on the final hole I was very happy."

Bai has had a decorated amateur career. He reached a career-high amateur world ranking of 134 and played in the 2018 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, where he finished ninth.

For Kocher, finishing as runnerup was a tough pill to swallow. After holding a three-shot lead at the start of the day, the American failed to get any momentum going on Sunday but admitted moving to the top of the order of merit was not a bad consolation prize.

"It's not the round I wanted but it was still a great tournament. I played great in the first two days but just didn't hit it well today," said Kocher, who turned pro in 2018 after graduating from the University of Maryland. "I'm still very happy with the way I hung in there and it feels good to be No 1 on the order of merit so I can't be too disappointed.

"I tried to stick to my game plan and hit quality golf shots all around and let them come to me and try to shoot another under-par round but it just didn't work out. That's golf."

"Bobby" Bai Zhengkai tracks a tee shot during the final round of the PGA Tour Series-China Huangshan Championship on Sunday. Bai won the rain-shortened event with a 54-hole, 12-under total of 204, two strokes ahead of second-place David Kocher of the US. Provided to China Daily 

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2019-06-24 08:34:44
<![CDATA[Women's national soccer team gives men's a lesson in professionalism]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/23/content_37483690.htm

IN THE ON-GOING FIFA WOMEN'S WORLD CUP in France, the Chinese women's national soccer team entered the knockout stage after advancing from a group of Germany, Spain and South Africa. China Daily writer Li Yang comments:

In the next round later this week, the Chinese team is likely to encounter England or Italy, either of which will be tough to beat. But most Chinese fans believe the team still has a chance to make its way to the quarterfinal.

In another development, fortune smiled on the Chinese men's national soccer team, which relies heavily on naturalized players, when it was recognized by the Asian Football Association on Monday as the last of the eight seeded teams, nosing out Iraq by a narrow margin, in the qualifiers of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which means China will steer clear of the stronger teams.

It is an irony that the money it takes to sponsor a top female soccer club in the country is like a hair off a bull's back compared with the sponsorship of a club in the Chinese Super League, and the income of male soccer players is thousands of times higher than their female counterparts on average.

Yet after China launched its professional men's soccer league in 1994, the Chinese men's national soccer team's FIFA world ranking has dropped from around 50th to over 90th, while the women's ranking has remained comparatively stable among the top 20. Before this year's World Cup, the women's national team had taken part in all seven World Cups since 1991, and made it to the final eight six times - they were runner-up in the 1999 World Cup in the United States.

Obviously, the influx of hot money to the men's soccer circle has, instead of promoting the rise of the sport, distorted some basic laws of it, as the club owners aspire for quick success through buying star players, and the national manager hopes for the same using naturalized foreign players. Both ignore youth training.

Over the past few years, although Chinese clubs have risen quickly in Asia, China's youth national team has been surpassed by Thailand and Vietnam, exposing the shortage of capable young players, and the national team members often seem absent-minded and careless about national pride.

By contrast, women's soccer has largely inherited the training system dating back to the planned economy age. It has never ceased its down-to-earth youth training even under more difficult conditions, and ensured a reliable supply of good players, though in small numbers. The women players are united and always try their best to strive for the best result.

Money talks. But not always in the best of ways, as Chinese soccer indicates. Fake professionalization can lead the sport astray.

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2019-06-23 13:24:12
<![CDATA[Beacon of Chinese contemporary art]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/22/content_37483658.htm Editor's Note: This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. This is part of a series looking at the significant developments in various fields as the country increases its interaction with the world.

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Celebrated hub in capital becomes symbol of nation's growing cultural influence

Editor's Note: This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. This is part of a series looking at the significant developments in various fields as the country increases its interaction with the world.

The smokestack rises behind the building's refaced red stucco facade studded with black-grille windows, a remnant of the original factory that points to the area's industrial roots.

The ground floor walls of the newly renovated museum in Beijing have also been demolished, leaving only supporting columns and glass wraparounds that allow visitors to see the various activities throughout the complex.

"It's about making more connections, about tearing down walls," Philip Tinari, the director and CEO of the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, told China Daily.

The museum lies at heart of the capital's 798 Art Zone and its latest developments reflect in many ways the area's transformation from artists' enclave to international hub of the arts. For many in the arts community, the zone is now considered a beacon of Chinese contemporary art's rise as a globally significant phenomenon. What is China's most celebrated art district is also becoming symbolic of a growing confidence and influence of Chinese cultural identity.

The zone "started out as a place where artists in Beijing could get access to affordable studio and display spaces that had previously been used to house industry ... 798's status as an international art hub came about largely as a matter of happenstance and location rather than careful long-term planning", said Paul Gladston, professor of contemporary art at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

"It has though spawned numerous government and privately supported art districts across China that, among other things, support urban development and the development of cultural industries ...The symbolic significance of 798 as a conspicuous marker of China's renewed cultural openness nevertheless remains," Gladston said.

Since it first gained prominence for its community of artists in the early 2000s, the 798 Art Zone in the Dashanzi area of Chaoyang district has grown to cover nearly 300,000 square meters, including more than 500 art studios, galleries, institutions and other related establishments from 25 countries and regions, according to the local administrative committee.

The increasing commercialization of the zone, with its restaurants, cafes, bookshops and retail outlets, has also helped make it one of the top attractions in the city.

The zone adopts a collaborative, "government-guided, enterprise-oriented" approach to develop its art institutions, which UCCA's Tinari said have evolved into the successful management of a cultural district that is the envy of many Chinese cities trying to repurpose their industrial infrastructure.

Wang Yanling, head of the Beijing Sevenstar Huadian Science and Technology Group, which runs the zone, said its hosting of the highest concentration of contemporary art institutions in China offers an unmatched platform for Chinese influence on the field's international presence, with Beijing now one of the world's top five cities known for the art form.

The zone attracted more than 8.08 million visitors from home and abroad last year alone, with over 130 heads of state and other dignitaries visiting it by the end of April, Wang told China Daily.

"The 798 Art Zone is a cultural pillar of support, with the growing global influence of Chinese contemporary art and its rising role in the dialogue between East and West," he said.

Tinari, whose UCCA center has grown to about 1,400 staff since its founding in 2007 and is one of the largest institutions of its kind, said the zone plays a key role in the global impact of Chinese contemporary art.

At the Art Basel Hong Kong international art fair, for example, more than 60 percent of Chinese galleries which present in the top annual event hail from the zone, Tinari said.

"If you look at the global art market, China has actually a very huge piece of the pie, like right there with some of the major international centers. What's interesting about Chinese contemporary art is that it's not the flavor of the month anymore. It definitely went through that period, in the late 1990s and early 2000s ... That's not where we are anymore," Tinari said.

Professor Gladston, who has written extensively on the subject, said "two of the biggest changes in China's contemporary art scene in recent decades are, on the one hand, the establishment of contemporary Chinese art as a globally significant phenomenon, culturally, socially and politically, and, on the other, an increasing confidence among Chinese artists in asserting specifically Chinese cultural identities".

One of that phenomenon's key issues is "the associated shift of cultural, economic and political power from the north and west to the east and south as part of globalization", Gladston said. His new book, Contemporary Chinese Art, Aesthetic Modernity and Zhang Peili: Towards a Critical Contemporaneity, looks at the work of Chinese artist Zhang Peili and his links with the Pond Association art group based in Zhejiang's provincial capital Hangzhou, covering how the "codification of a critical aesthetic in China differs from and precedes that developed in relation to Western (ized) post-Enlightenment discourses".

The role of Chinese art in expanding the country's influence has also "certainly helped to reinforce the standing of Chinese culture on the world stage and the perception that Western cultural power is in some sense waning", he said.

Qiu Zhijie, dean of the School of Experimental Art at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts and professor at the School of Intermedia Art at the China Academy of Art, told China Daily that Chinese contemporary artists who have made major impact via international art biennale events, such as Cai Guoqiang, who won the 48th Venice Biennale International Golden Lion Prize, are still concentrated in a select group.

"Chinese contemporary art collectors, for example, need to look more at the younger, budding artists," said Qiu, who also held a UCCA exhibition that included 24 large-scale, ink-on-paper maps.

"The 798 zone is an important stop for anyone who wants to understand the global place of Chinese contemporary art," he said.

At the same time, the transition toward a "global playing field" meant that "Chinese artists won't really benefit just from being Chinese", Tinari said.

Different from the first or even second generation of contemporary artists who were known for being far from the mainstream of society, the current generation of practitioners benefit from having a "career path" in front of them, with the art academies producing experimental artists and comprehensive art management courses helping to form "a much more professional scene", Tinari said.

His center is now presenting what is touted as "the most significant exhibition of work by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) ever to take place in China", including 103 works drawn from the collection of the Musee national Picasso-Paris, tracing the development of the Spanish master from his childhood to middle age. The exhibition, which runs till September, is expected to draw huge interest from an increasingly savvy Chinese audience.

"We believe that the story of Picasso is relevant to our audience in China, as individuals here continue to answer the challenges of creativity, originality, and innovation," according to Tinari.

Zhang Mu, 36, from Sichuan province, is one of the artists who has exhibited in various domestic venues but still believes in the leading role offered by the 798 Art Zone in the global contemporary art scene. His two-week exhibition at the Space Zero gallery ending late April explored interactions with the zone's visitors, applying them to oil renditions that reflected cartographic and landscape abstracts.

"As an international art hub, there may be no better platform than 798," Zhang said.

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2019-06-22 06:52:54
<![CDATA[Neville braced for China challenge]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/21/content_37483357.htm England coach readying for 'tough' potential last-16 clash with Steel Roses

England coach Phil Neville says his team is preparing for a tough battle against potential last-16 opponent China at the Women's World Cup, but warned his Three Lionesses will be off the leash and "ready to attack".

Neville's side cruised into the knockout stage on Wednesday night with a 2-0 victory over Japan in Nice that saw the world's third-ranked team top Group D with a perfect 3-0 record.

In contrast, Jia Xiuqian's Steel Roses squeezed through as one of the best third-place finishers following a hard-fought 0-0 Group B draw with Spain on Monday, setting up a clash against either England or Italy.

Neville was impressed by China's resilience against Spain, which his team defeated 2-1 in an April friendly, but suggested the Steel Roses might require another backs-to-the-wall performance should they face an increasingly confident England in Valenciennes on Sunday.

"They are going to be a good team," Neville said of 16th-ranked China. "Spain and Denmark, who we played in the last two months, both gave us tough games. China's ranking is around the area of the teams we played who gave us tough games.

"We watched their game against Spain and they played very well and were disciplined. It was a good example of the type of football and technique the Chinese team have. We need to get focused as it's a quick turnaround of three or four days, so we've got to be quick.

"When we get to the last 16, it's about winning. We play with a big emphasis on winning. From now to the end of the tournament, we have to play with a certain style. We are just where we want to be, in the last 16 and ready to attack."

Despite making eight changes to his starting XI, Neville's squad was rarely troubled by 2015 runner-up Japan, which still advanced to the last 16 in second spot.

Only captain Steph Houghton, rightback Lucy Bronze and midfielder Jill Scott kept their places from the 1-0 win over Argentina, with goals in either half from Ellen White earning England a measure of revenge for a 2-1 loss to Japan in the semifinals four years ago.

"It was about winning the group, that is what we have done and now we will look forward to the round of 16," said White, who netted in the 14th and 84th minutes.

Reflecting on the night's work, Neville said: "We've got another clean sheet, we've won another game, we've played three and won three, and we're just where we want to be, in the last 16, and ready to attack in the business end of the tournament."

Neville said he is likely to ring the changes again, and that could mean special treatment for China's star playmaker Wang Shuang, who has so far failed to hit the heights in France.

"We profile every player. It depends on what team we're playing," said the former Manchester United and England defender.

"There are certain players who are our experts in certain games. We need to know which team we're playing, then decide how they play, how we're going to beat them and see which player fits the profile."

Meanwhile, China's head coach Jia has demanded more from Wang Shuang, who has failed to muster a shot on target or an assist.

"Wang Shuang is a quality player, and the fans pinned high hopes on her," Jia said. "I gave her complete freedom to roam on the field, and she could go where she pleased.

"But she carried huge psychological pressure onto the World Cup stage. I hoped she could have performed better."

Jia, however, is confident China could spring an upset in the next game.

"If the players can bring out 60 or 70 percent of their ability in the next match, they can bring us a surprise," he said.

Injured striker Wang Shanshan, who withdrew injured against the Spanish, remains a doubt for the last 16.

"She twisted her right ankle, and needed a stitch in a cut on her right foot. We hope she can recover in time," Jia said.

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2019-06-21 07:59:58
<![CDATA[Manslaughter arrest made in Sala plane crash probe]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/21/content_37483356.htm LONDON - A suspect has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter involving the death of Argentine player Emiliano Sala, British police confirmed on Wednesday.

The forward, 28, died when a plane carrying him and pilot David Ibbotson crashed into the English Channel on Jan 21, just days after he joined Cardiff City from French club Nantes.

"As a result of our enquiries we have today arrested a 64-year-old man from the North Yorkshire area on suspicion of manslaughter by an unlawful act," Detective Inspector Simon Huxter, of Dorset Police said in a statement.

"He is assisting with our enquiries and has been released from custody under investigation."

Huxter urged media and members of the public to not speculate over the identity of the arrested individual to avoid prejudicing the investigation.

Sala had been Cardiff's record signing after a fee of 15 million pound ($19 million) was agreed with Nantes during the January transfer window.

After traveling to Cardiff to complete the deal, Sala returned to northern France to collect belongings and bid farewell to his teammates.

It was on his return flight to the Welsh capital to take part in his first training session that the crash occurred.

Initial search operations for the player and pilot were suspended in the days after the plane went missing.

However, a crowdfunding effort supported by thousands of donations, including from soccer stars such as Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe, helped launch a private search.

That specialized search saw Sala's body recovered from the crash wreckage in February, but Ibbotson's body has not been recovered.

Two months after Sala's body was discovered, his father Horacio Sala died of a heart attack in Argentina.

Moving tributes were paid to Sala from across the soccer world with Nantes retiring the No 9 jersey he wore for the Ligue 1 side.

However, the two clubs have been involved in a legal wrangle over the transfer fee.

Nantes reported Cardiff to FIFA after the first instalment of the fee, believed to be 5 million pound, was not paid on time.

Cardiff previously stated they were "shocked" at reports Ibbotson did not have a license to fly at night.

"The club remains deeply concerned that the pilot, and those who arranged the flight, seemingly completely disregarded the rules of flying and put Mr Sala's life in such danger," Cardiff said in a statement in March.

"We believe that those persons who are responsible should be held fully accountable for their actions in this tragedy."

In the aftermath of Sala's death, Cardiff was relegated from the Premier League after just one season back in the top flight.

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2019-06-21 07:59:58
<![CDATA[Mendy honored to join Zidane's Real]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/21/content_37483355.htm Ferland Mendy has said it will be an honor to play for a 'legend' like Zinedine Zidane after Real Madrid's new leftback was unveiled on Wednesday.

Madrid paid 50 million euros ($56 million) to sign the France international defender from Lyon as Zidane continues to revamp his squad after the disappointments of last season.

Mendy joins Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, Eder Militao and Rodrygo in moving to Madrid as part of a summer spending spree that topped $300 million euros.

"It's an honor to be around a football legend like Zidane," Mendy said at a media conference.

"I followed him when I was little, I know very well what he did during his career and it is a great pleasure to be able to work with him."

Mendy had earlier signed his contract in the club's boardroom and posed for photographs in front of Madrid's 13 European Cups.

The 24-year-old came through Paris Saint-Germain's youth system but an arthritic hip threatened to cut short his career. Instead, he moved to Le Havre before joining Lyon for just 5 million euros in 2017.

"When I was 15 years old, I had an operation on my hip," Mendy said. "They told me I was not going to play football again.

"I spent some time in a wheelchair, and six or seven months in the hospital to be able to walk again and now I am at Real Madrid. It's really incredible."

Club president Florentino Perez said: "We have brought you here because of the quality, talent, work and fight that have all characterized your life."

Despite his hefty price tag, Mendy is not guaranteed a starting spot at leftback under Zidane, and can expect stiff competition from veteran Marcelo and Sergio Reguilon. As well as Zidane, he joins French compatriots Raphael Varane and Karim Benzema at his new club.

"Varane told me that it was the biggest club in the world," Mendy added. "He said he'll help me to integrate into the group and in the dressing room.

"I am very happy to play for the best team in the world and to be able to wear this shirt. I hope to win many titles here."

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2019-06-21 07:59:58
<![CDATA[Stickhandling to respectability]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/21/content_37483354.htm

Puck will drop on China's first national collegiate championships in November

Despite limited participation and a lack of facilities, China is determined to have ice hockey embedded in its collegiate sports system as a destination for talent being nurtured in the junior ranks.

The establishment of China's first college ice hockey championships, announced in Beijing on Wednesday, is expected to drive burgeoning junior participation in the sport to new heights by offering youngsters the opportunity to combine their love of the game with academic advancement.

The round-robin championships will be staged in November at suburban Beijing's Aozhong Ice Sports Center, with about 10 colleges, including the renowned Peking, Tsinghua and Renmin universities in Beijing, competing in two divisions - "advanced" and "ordinary".

The Federation of University Sports of China, the country's governing body of collegiate sports under the Ministry of Education, also revealed a plan to expand the tournament into a home-and-away league competition involving more schools next year.

"The challenge to organize a major national collegiate tournament based on niche participation is huge, but certainly worth trying," said Xue Yanqing, vice-president of FUSC.

"The level of play won't be good and the facilities are not yet enough... but to get everything started is all that matters for us developing the sport," Xue told China Daily on Wednesday.

"Without a collegiate system, children who have grown interested in playing hockey at the junior level won't take it seriously when the time comes to go to middle school, where other sports boasting further education opportunities will take over."

The championships will be operated by AZ Sports, the sports affiliate of Beijing-based ORG Packaging which has been active in promoting hockey in China by funding a Chinese club in Russia's secondary Supreme Hockey League and sponsoring the National Hockey League's preseason China Games.

With the physical nature of the sport and its reliance on teamwork appealing to Chinese parents, ice hockey's popularity among primary students has taken off, as evidenced by the long lines of kids at shopping mall rinks who are anxious to learn fundamentals of the sport.

According to the Beijing Hockey Association, more than 4,000 children have registered in its competition system, while 2,600 on 199 teams competed in its 2018-19 junior league.

However, most youngsters have to give up playing or move to North America, where youth hockey is rooted in the education system, due to the lack of a progressive pipeline in China.

"It's really a waste of talent because we haven't put together a system where they could continue playing while attending ordinary schools," said Xing He, deputy secretary-general of the BHA.

Without schools involved, the country's national hockey program traditionally draws talent from a thin pool contributed to by a limited number of State-run training centers in the northeastern Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces.

Although it will be years before the collegiate system starts to pay dividends, it's a remarkable first step in the right direction, said Zhao Xianglin, president of AZ Sports.

"It will at least send a strong message to children and their parents that hockey has been recognized by the country's education authority as an advocated event on campus. It's a big difference," he said.

According to Xue, who is also the secretary general of the Ministry of Education's student sports association, the ministry is considering offering hockey-specialized students preferential policies, such as extra points added in their high school admission or college entrance exams, to encourage their commitment in developing the sport domestically.

"Facility-wise, I don't think it's a big challenge as long as we have enough students dedicated to playing the sport. Chinese universities are financially capable of quickly building ice rinks," he said.

Tsinghua University is building an indoor ice sports center featuring a standard hockey rink, which is due to be completed in 2022.

Having qualified for the 2022 Winter Olympics hockey tournaments as host, China is pursuing a tall task to contend for a medal on the women's side while performing respectably in the men's event, although its female team currently ranks world No 20 and the men's is world No 32.

Xue said it's more practical for the country to put together competitive teams on both the men's and women's side at the biennial Winter Universiade.

"Hopefully, we can watch our own teams competing on ice at the university games very soon, while our collegiate competitions keep maturing," Xue said, citing China's absence from the hockey tournament at the Winter Universiade in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, in March.

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2019-06-21 07:59:58
<![CDATA[Sluman savoring scenic Anhui test]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/21/content_37483353.htm American Trevor Sluman is looking forward to competing on a second straight Gary Player-designed course after taking over the lead in the PGA Tour Series-China order of merit with his runner-up finish at last week's Suzhou Open.

This week's Huangshan Championship is at picturesque Hidden Tiger Golf Club in Anhui province, featuring stunning natural scenery.

Unlike the expansive metropolitan courses that tour players are accustomed to, Hidden Tiger, designed by South African legend Player, is relatively compact and tucked away between spectacular mountain vistas. Players even have the option of riding a ferry from their hotel to the course on scenic Taiping Lake.

There was some rain during the practice rounds, but the weather was clearing up by Tuesday evening and Sluman is planning to make the most of his visit. The New York native has already seen much of China, having played a full season on the tour in 2018.

 

American Trevor Sluman tracks a drive during Thursday's opening round of the PGA Tour Series-China Huangshan Championship in Huangshan, Anhui province. After a downpour temporarily suspended play, most of the field was unable to complete the 18 holes. Provided to China Daily

 

"It's amazing to be out here. The hotel is right on the water, and I never would have thought that I'd be playing at a place like this," said Sluman.

"It's very cool to be surrounded by all these mountains, and I've already taken a lot of nice photos and videos. It's definitely special and a nice change of scenery."

While he thinks the course suits him, Sluman said the tight, unforgiving fairways are more challenging than what he faced last week in Suzhou.

"The course is very different compared to last week, but I really like them both. Hidden Tiger is more narrow so you have to play smart off the tee and try your best to not get in any trouble," he said.

"It definitely suits me because I've been playing great, and I like the greens here. Hopefully I can plot my way around the course and shoot a low score."

Sluman had a solid 2018 season, finishing ninth on the order of merit to get into the Korn Ferry Tour qualifying tournament, but with only conditional Korn Ferry Tour status, he wasn't able to secure any starts.

Now more than halfway through the season, the big-hitting American has already secured one win - the Sanya Championship - and is on track to play on the 2020 Korn Ferry Tour. He leads the order of merit with 572,709 yuan ($83,000) - roughly 80,000 yuan ahead of compatriot Max McGreevy.

"My goal is to win the order of merit, so this event is really important to me because I want to keep the momentum going and try to extend my lead," said Sluman.

"It's difficult because a lot of guys are playing really well. I just need to stay focused and keep doing what I'm doing and hopefully the results will keep coming."

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2019-06-21 07:59:58
<![CDATA[New sponsor for PGA feeder tour]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/21/content_37483352.htm

The PGA Tour and Korn Ferry on Wednesday announced a 10-year agreement making the Los Angeles-based global consulting firm the signature sponsor of the newly named Korn Ferry Tour.

In replacing Web.com, Korn Ferry's sponsorship takes effect immediately and extends through the 2028 season.

The Korn Ferry Tour will continue to award its 50 leading players PGA Tour membership, including the top 25 from the regular-season points list and the top 25 from the three-event Korn Ferry Tour Finals points list.

The announcement was made jointly by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, Korn Ferry CEO Gary Burnison and Korn Ferry Tour president Alex Baldwin in New York.

"We welcome Korn Ferry to the PGA Tour family with today's announcement," said Monahan. "Our thanks to Gary Burnison and his team for a partnership that will promote Korn Ferry's mission of helping people and organizations exceed their potential, collaborating with a tour that has proven to identify the next generation of PGA Tour talent over the past 30 years."

Korn Ferry also becomes a PGA Tour official marketing partner and will assume sponsorship of the Korn Ferry Tour Championship - the third and final event in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.

"We're excited to partner with the PGA Tour. Our organizations are both all about talent - getting players and people to that next level and advancing their careers," said Burnison.

"People will never discover their full potential until they are provided an abundance of opportunity. Korn Ferry and the Korn Ferry Tour provide that opportunity. This sponsorship will further elevate our brand as a global organizational consultancy and extend awareness of our firm to new audiences around the world."

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2019-06-21 07:59:58
<![CDATA[More females will trade punches at Tokyo Games]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/21/content_37483351.htm

LAUSANNE, Switzerland - The International Olympic Committee on Wednesday announced that 100 female boxers will compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, up from 36 at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

In accordance with recommendations made on May 22, the IOC decided to keep the boxing tournament in the Tokyo Games while suspending recognition of AIBA, the sport's world governing body for amateur fighters.

The IOC also revealed a revised quota distribution to enhance gender equality. While the overall quota of 286 boxers is maintained, the number of males will be cut to 186 from 250 in Rio.

In total, the boxing tournament will be composed of 13 weight categories - eight for men and five for women - compared to 10 for men and three for women at Rio.

The IOC said the continental distribution of boxers has been based on participation and results at the past two Olympic Games and two world championships.

A total of four continental qualification events will be held (the Asia and Oceania events will be combined), along with a further world qualification event, between January and May 2020.

"These recommendations aim to keep athletes at the heart of the Olympic Games, protecting their experience and their right to compete," said Morinari Watanabe, head of the IOC's ad-hoc boxing task force and president of the International Gymnastics Federation.

"They also fully respect the principles of inclusivity and universality, increase the gender balance and establish fair participation criteria for athletes across the world, ensuring a diverse and comprehensive representation."

Wednesday's IOC executive board meeting also decided to add a group of four officials to the task force established to deliver qualification events and the boxing tournament at Tokyo 2020. They are Romania's Marius Vizer, president of the International Judo Federation; Guatemala's Willi Kaltschmitt Lujan; Uganda's William Blick; and athlete representative Aya Mahmoud Medancy of Egypt.

The 13 categories for Olympic boxing are as follows:

Men: Flyweight (48-52kg), featherweight (52-57kg), lightweight (57-63kg), welterweight (63-69kg), middleweight (69-75kg), light heavyweight (75-81kg), heavyweight (81-91kg) and super heavyweight (+91kg).

Women: Flyweight (48-51kg), featherweight (54-57kg), lightweight (57-60kg), welterweight (64-69kg) and middleweight (69-75kg).

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2019-06-21 07:59:58
<![CDATA[Marta dedicates record to 'anyone fighting for equality']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/20/content_37482880.htm Brazilian legend becomes World Cup's all-time leading scorer

VALENCIENNES, France - Marta secured her place among the legends of soccer on Tuesday after the Brazilian become the all-time leading World Cup scorer - male or female - in a 1-0 win over Italy.

"This record doesn't belong to me, it belongs to all of us," the 33-year-old said after crashing home a penalty with 16 minutes left to score her 17th World Cup goal.

"I share it with anyone fighting for more equality."

Brazil set up a knockout stage clash with either host France or Germany after the 74th-minute strike moved Marta one goal ahead of Germany's Miroslav Klose in the record books.

"Do you think he'll change his mind about retiring and play at the next World Cup?" Marta joked.

Brazil finished third on goal difference in Group C behind Italy and Australia - which beat Jamaica 4-1 - after all three tied with six points.

Marta wasn't fazed by the possibility of facing France, which topped Group A with a perfect nine points after scraping past Nigeria on Monday.

"To play against the host nation would be a privilege. The stadium will be full of fans singing," she said.

"I love playing in front of a big crowd, whether it's supporting me or is against me. I just want there to be fans watching us."

Marta is widely considered the greatest player in the history of the women's game and was hailed by her teammates as an inspiration for others wanting to take up the male-dominated sport.

"She is like an icon for us and I think every year she is breaking records. That's not just important for us, but for all of women's soccer. I'm so happy she is Brazilian," said centerback Monica.

Fellow defender Tamires added: "We have a lot of young players coming up and I hope they look to her and how she plays, what makes her so special and so incredible and follow her."

Four-star Kerr

The loss to Brazil wasn't enough to dislodge Italy from top spot and a match with one of the four best third-place finishers.

"It's a shame about the result because we didn't want to lose but we played well enough to have drawn it," said Juventus attacker Babara Bonansea, who twice came close to scoring before Marta fired her record goal.

"We knew that today was going to be difficult, but we were good. Let's see who our next match is against."

Marta's winner overshadowed another historic feat by Sam Kerr, who became the first Australian to score a World Cup hat-trick as she sniped all four goals en route to eliminating Jamaica in Grenoble.

"It's one to tell my kids about," Kerr said. "Any time you break a record, especially for your country, it is an amazing feeling."

The Matildas will play Norway in Nice in the last 16 on Saturday.

Meanwhile, England needs a point against Japan on Wednesday to ensure it tops Group D and avoids a potential last-16 clash with European champion the Netherlands.

Topping the group would, however, would also put England on the same side of the draw as both France and potentially defending World Cup champion Team USA.

England coach Phil Neville said there were "pitfalls in finishing first and second" as he reported that his squad was fully fit with striker Toni Duggan available after missing the victories over Scotland and Argentina.

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2019-06-20 07:35:02
<![CDATA[Digest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/20/content_37482879.htm Soccer

Shandong own goal gives Evergrande win

An own goal in the 80th minute lifted two-time champion Guangzhou Evergrande to a 2-1 win over Shandong Luneng, while reigning champion Kashima Antlers edged Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0 as the AFC Champions League last 16 kicked off on Tuesday night.

After Wei Shihao opened the scoring for Evergrande, Shandong looked like it had snatched a draw against Fabio Cannavaro's injury-depleted side when Zhang Chi lashed home a second-half equalizer, set up by ex-Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini. But Yang Liyu's cross in the 80th minute was deflected past Wang Dalei by one of his defenders to give Cannavaro's side the victory.

"Tonight's game was very tough because of the tactics of our opponents, but considering the number of players we were missing it was never going to be easy to win," said Cannavaro, who was without influential Brazilian Anderson Talisca and China international Gao Lin.

Platini released, denies wrongdoing

Banned former UEFA chief Michel Platini was released from custody on Wednesday after hours of questioning in connection with a criminal investigation into the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

The French legend, who led soccer's European governing body from 2007-15, was detained on Tuesday by French anti-corruption police investigating alleged corruption in the 2010 vote to award the tournament to the oil-rich Gulf state.

Platini denied any wrongdoing and a statement from his representatives said the facts of the case were "unknown to him."

In the early hours of Wednesday, lawyer William Bourdon said Platini had been released without charge, adding that "there has been a lot of fuss over nothing".

Neymar's accuser speaks to police again

A Brazilian model who has accused soccer star Neymar of raping her in a Paris hotel in May has testified to police in Sao Paulo a second time.

On Tuesday morning Najila Trindade continued her deposition with a new lawyer, the fourth to represent her since she filed charges against Neymar on May 31.

Legal representative Cosme Araujo said they "want to find the truth," and that Trindade "doesn't stop crying."

Neymar denies the accusation. He was questioned by police for several hours last week.

The player is also being investigated for publishing images of his accuser on social media without her authorization.

Basketball

Paul reportedly demanding trade

Houston Rockets All-Star point guard Chris Paul wants to traded because his relationship with teammate and MVP candidate James Harden is "unsalvageable," according to reports on Tuesday.

According to Yahoo Sports, Paul approached management to demand a trade following the season-ending loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference semifinals.

Moving Paul and his three-year, $124 million contract will not be easy, though GM Daryl Morey has been open about having trade discussions involving all of his players other than Harden this offseason.

"It's unsalvageable ... can't be fixed," a league source told Yahoo Sports about the Harden-Paul relationship.

Center Clint Capela could also be traded by the Rockets, as could Eric Gordon or PJ Tucker.

Among teams thought to have interest in Capela are the New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, Charlotte Hornets and Portland Trail Blazers.

Horford to decline option, leave Celtics

Boston forward Al Horford will turn down his 2018-19 option of $30.1 million and no longer intends to re-sign with the Celtics, multiple media outlets reported on Tuesday.

ESPN and the Boston Herald both reported that Horford would opt out with the goal of re-signing with the Celtics on a reworked deal, which would have a lower annual value but include two additional years of security.

However, both outlets later reported that Horford and the team are now unable to agree on a new contract, and that the player will pursue a deal of three or four years elsewhere in free agency.

After he opts out, the 33-year-old will be able to discuss contracts with other teams starting on June 30.

Athletics

IAAF: Semenya is 'biologically male'

The governing body of track argued in court on Tuesday that South African runner Caster Semenya is "biologically male" and that is the reason she should reduce her natural testosterone to be allowed to compete in female competitions.

The IAAF's stance on Semenya and other female athletes affected by its testosterone regulations was revealed in a 163-page decision from the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

In the redacted court records, the IAAF referred to the two-time Olympic champion as "one of a number of biologically male athletes with female gender identities."

In court, Semenya responded to the assertion by saying that being described as biologically male "hurts more than I can put in words."

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2019-06-20 07:35:02
<![CDATA[Schooling future pros]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/19/content_37482410.htm China's collegiate league wants to serve as pipeline

After wrapping up an upgraded season on a high note, China's collegiate basketball league has raised hopes of building a strong campus-to-pro talent pipeline.

The Chinese University Basketball Association (CUBA) is aiming to grow the same kind of player crop as US colleges, long the main building block of the NBA.

That ambition was highlighted by the symbolic moment when NBA legend Yao Ming, chairman of the Chinese Basketball Association, awarded the final MVP trophy to student athlete Wang Shaojie after the forward led Peking University to an 84-77 victory over crosstown rival Tsinghua University to claim the school's third straight CUBA title at the packed University Students' Gymnasium in Beijing last Sunday.

It was the first time the two renowned schools met in the CUBA final in the tournament's 21-year history, attracting a capacity crowd at the 4,200-seat arena.

The trophy handover from Yao to Wang, a junior student who scored 22 points and 16 rebounds for PKU, symbolized great expectations from the sport's top echelon for the school system to nurture more talent.

"It was a strong message that PKU and Tsinghua, the top two academic-strong universities, met in the CUBA national final," said Zhang Jian, head coach of PKU.

"It will definitely inspire the rest of the country's elite universities to invest more and concentrate more on basketball development on campus."

Wang's 6-foot-9 wingspan, athleticism and versatile skills have drawn considerable attention from domestic pro scouts, but the 23-year-old said he wants to finish his undergraduate studies at PKU before considering any opportunities to play in the CBA.

The CBA has ramped up efforts to bring in more school-cultivated talent by reforming a draft system initiated by Yao, who took over as league chairman in early 2017.

A record number of nine CUBA players signed up for the 2018 CBA Draft, the first edition after a reform to extend rookie contracts from one to two years at an increased maximum annual salary of 500,000 yuan ($72,000).

Wang's senior teammate Wan Shengwei, the 2017-18 CUBA final MVP, was drafted in the second round (38th overall) by nine-time CBA champion Guangdong Southern Tigers and impressed fans by playing some quality minutes off the bench in his rookie pro campaign.

The quality of collegiate talent was put on display during the CBA All-Star Weekend in January, when a CUBA select team led by Wang defeated a youth team comprised of CBA reserves 90-88 in the Rising Star Challenge.

Without a sound collegiate system, CBA clubs have traditionally relied on players drafted from local sports school in the State-run system.

"I think eventually players like us who are improving our game in schools while balancing academic study will stand out more and more as bright professional prospects," said Wang.

"The CBA is the ultimate goal for every college player, but we still have a long way to go to match the competitiveness of the elite level."

CUBA, which was founded by the Federation of University Sports of China in 1998, entered a new era last October when Alisports, a subsidiary of internet giant Alibaba, acquired the exclusive operation rights of the league for seven years at a price of 1 billion yuan ($144 million).

Supported by the FUSC, Alisports introduced a home-and-away competition format, starting from the regional preliminaries in 32 cities, and expanded the knockout stage from 24 entries to 32.

It also facilitated the competition with pro-caliber broadcasting, marketing and media promotion.

Live-streaming of games on Alibaba-owned platform Youku Sports and basketball-themed reality shows featuring star college players have drawn impressive viewership online.

The revamped CUBA, including all men's and women's competitions, featured 1,600 teams in its first season after the reform.

"It's pretty exciting playing in the new home-and-road system instead of competing in a tournament staged by a neutral host," said Guo Jian, starting center for Tsinghua and a senior majoring in business management.

"The support from your schoolmates playing in your own gym and the buzz created by the game on campus is something truly inspirational," he added.

Alisports, which signed a partnership with the NCAA's Pac-12 conference in October 2017 to stage exhibition games in China, vowed to continue upgrading CUBA with expertise and experience learned from the US collegiate league.

"We will further popularize CUBA following the example of the NCAA," said Wei Quanmin, vice-president of Alisports.

"Our goal is to make it a basketball talent cradle while building a healthy business circle for the league to stand on its own."

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2019-06-19 07:37:52
<![CDATA[True steel keeps Cup dream alive]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/19/content_37482409.htm Stirring shutout of Spain sends gutsy China through to last 16 in France

Team China summoned all its powers of resistance to reach the knockout stage of the Women's World Cup with a dogged performance against Spain that moved both coach Jia Xiuquan and hero of the night Peng Shimeng to tears.

Goalkeeper Peng epitomized the Steel Roses' tenacity and courage in the face of a relentless Spanish onslaught with nine crucial saves to earn a 0-0 Group B draw on Monday at Stade Oceane in Le Havre, France.

The point sees China advance to the last 16 as one of the four best third-place finishers.

 

Team China goalkeeper Peng Shimeng, who was named player of the match, reaches above teammate Wu Haiyan and Spain's Andrea Falcon to punch away a Spanish cross during Monday's Women's World Cup Group B match in Le Havre, France. The game ended 0-0 as China reached the last 16. Bernadett Szabo / Reuters

Spain also progresses in second place, with Germany through after topping the group in style with a 4-0 victory over eliminated South Africa in the night's other game.

The emotion proved too much for coach Jia, who weathered criticism from some media sectors after dropping the opener to Germany and laboring to a 1-0 win over South Africa.

"Their fighting spirit moved me," said Jia. "I was a player, so I know what was in their minds even if they didn't say anything. We snatched one point against Spain which means we still have a chance to face more world-class teams. My players defended hard and their mental persistence moved me.

"It may take generations to eventually form a strong team. Now we see the gap between us and the world-class teams. We need to put in 200 percent and we need to do it in a concerted way."

Peng, who was named player of the match, also struggled to contain her emotions.

"I saw the coach crying, so I cried with him," said Peng. "I was sad to see the coach because I knew he took the lead and carried all the pressure for us."

Peng's shutout was fittingly described by some fans online as like building a Great Wall. Afterward she attempted to deflect attention away from her heroics.

"I'm surprised to be named player of the match and I hope to help our team go further," said the 21-year-old.

"We were all nervous at the beginning of the match, but we stopped thinking too much and just focused. Please trust us and trust our coach. We're doing our best."

Spain's 24 attempts on goal (nine on target), compared to China's one (not on target) told the whole story.

The Steel Roses' inadequacies on attack weren't helped by a first-half injury to top scorer Wang Shanshan, who was withdrawn at halftime, while Paris Saint-Germain star Wang Shuang again looked off the pace as her recent dip in form continued.

Still, China's gutsy display resonated with fans back home, with topics related to the match viewed 40 million times on Weibo by Tuesday morning.

Fans, however, should not be expecting a return to the glory days when China won silver medals at the 1996 Olympics and the 1999 World Cup, according to renowned soccer pundit Huang Jianxiang.

"Many people asked why it was so hard for Team China to win a game at the Women's World Cup and why we are supposed to be happy about China's advancement to the knockout stage," Huang wrote on Weibo.

"Actually, women's world soccer is now very different from two decades ago, and Team China has no obvious advantages anymore. Decades ago, women's soccer was still in its infancy worldwide, and the Chinese squad took the lead.

"Now more and more countries are focused on women's soccer and many of them boast strong men's teams and great tradition in the game. They have more resources and more comprehensive youth training systems.

"So, there's a gap between the development of Chinese women's soccer and the world's powerhouses. We have not won any continental championship for years.

"We should all recognize the difficult situation that the Steel Roses are facing right now and we should all respect them."

China's next opponent will be the winner of Group C or D, to be played either in Valenciennes on Sunday or in Montpellier next Tuesday (June 25).

Before Tuesday's Group C matches, Italy and England topped those groups, although Brazil and Japan were capable of usurping them.

Jia said his troops will use the coming days to recuperate and make adjustments for the next round.

"It's an improvement that we were able to follow our plan and play the match step-by-step under so much pressure," said Jia.

"I have a clear understanding of our future aims, and we will conclude them after the tournament."

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2019-06-19 07:37:52
<![CDATA[Neymar given ultimatum: Either shape up or ship out]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/18/content_37481941.htm PARIS - Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi on Sunday warned Neymar and the club's other highly paid stars they must shape up or ship out, claiming "celebrity behavior" at the French giant will not be tolerated.

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PSG president blasts players' 'celebrity' antics

PARIS - Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi on Sunday warned Neymar and the club's other highly paid stars they must shape up or ship out, claiming "celebrity behavior" at the French giant will not be tolerated.

"The players will have to assume their responsibilities even more than before," Al-Khelai told France Football magazine in an interview to be published on Tuesday.

"It must be completely different. They will have to do more, work more. They are not here to please themselves and if they do not agree, the doors are open. I do not want to have celebrity behavior anymore. I have realized that changes are essential, otherwise we're going nowhere."

Although he wasn't named, there seems little doubt that Brazilian star Neymar was the chief target of Al-Khelaifi's blast.

The 27-year-old Neymar was questioned by Brazilian police for five hours on Thursday over allegations he raped a woman he met through social media in a Paris hotel last month - charges he has denied.

Neymar has been plagued by controversy in France.

Injured and forced to watch from the stands as PSG was knocked out of the Champions League by Manchester United in March, Neymar aimed obscene language at the match officials on Instagram.

"It's a disgrace. They get four guys who don't understand football to watch a slow-motion replay in front of the TV," he wrote.

Neymar was handed a three-match suspension by UEFA for the insults, which rules him out of PSG's opening matches in next season's European campaign.

Neymar then scored in PSG's French Cup final loss to Rennes but struck a fan as he collected his runner-up medal at Stade de France.

He was then given a further two-match ban while the Brazilian press branded him a "coward" and a "rebellious teenager".

Brazil boss Tite took the skipper's armband away from the 96-time international and gave it to PSG teammate Dani Alves instead - although it proved academic as Neymar was then ruled out of the Copa America due to an ankle ligament injury picked up in a friendly.

Al-Khelaifi's outburst came just days after former PSG sporting director Leonardo returned to the club in the same position, replacing Antero Henrique.

Brazilian Leonardo warned that no player should be above the "institution" of PSG, in an interview with Canal+ a few weeks after the arrival of Neymar in 2017.

"It does not matter if Neymar is Neymar, if Cristiano Ronaldo is Cristiano Ronaldo, the club is an institution to respect," said Leonardo.

PSG won the French Ligue 1 title for a sixth time in seven seasons.

However, Thomas Tuchel's team lost in the last 16 of the Champions League for the third straight season, blowing a 2-0 first-leg lead to crash out against Manchester United.

PSG's French Cup final loss to Rennes then compounded the sense of underachievement at the club.

 

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2019-06-18 07:44:17
<![CDATA[Pogba opens door to United exit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/18/content_37481940.htm France midfielder Paul Pogba is considering a move from Manchester United amid speculation over interest from Real Madrid and Juventus.

Pogba said on Sunday at a publicity event in Tokyo that he "feels ready for a new challenge somewhere else."

"For me, you know I've been here for three years in Manchester, it's been great," he said.

"But I think for me it can be a good time to have a new challenge somewhere else."

Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has publicly said he likes Pogba, and the Spanish club has been linked to interest in the midfielder as it embarks on a major overhaul following one of its worst seasons in recent memory.

There has also been speculation of a possible return by the 26-year-old Pogba to Juventus, where he played for four seasons before United re-signed him in 2016 for a then world-record transfer fee of £89 million ($110 million).

Maurizio Sarri left Chelsea on Sunday after one season to return to Italy to manage Juventus.

Other top clubs are also thought to be interested in Pogba, who helped France capture the World Cup last summer.

He has been inconsistent at United, which could only finish sixth in the English Premier League last season after a difficult campaign that saw the firing of coach Jose Mourinho.

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2019-06-18 07:44:17
<![CDATA[Juve snares Sarri, Lampard in line for Chelsea return]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/18/content_37481939.htm MILAN - Maurizio Sarri was named coach of Juventus after his exit from Chelsea was confirmed by both clubs on Sunday.

Sarri returns to Italy on a threeyear deal just a season after leaving Napoli for Stamford Bridge, where he failed to garner fan support despite winning the Europa League and returning the Blues to the Champions League thanks to a third-place finish in the Premier League.

"Maurizio Sarri has returned to Italy, where he has coached for the majority of his career. And from today, he will take over the reins at Juventus with a contract until June 30, 2022," the Turin club said in a statement.

Last month's Europa League triumph was Sarri's first major trophy as a coach, but he will be expected to deliver far more at Juve.

Juventus has won Serie A for the past eight seasons, denying Sarri during his time at Napoli despite posting a club-record points total (91, 2017-18) in his three years in charge.

However, Max Allegri left the Bianconeri at the end of the campaign after failing to guide the Italian giant to Champions League glory despite the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo last year.

With Ronaldo now 34, securing Juve its first Champions League title since 1996 will be Sarri's top priority.

The Italian champion is keen on the brand of soccer Sarri imposed during three years at Napoli, but questions will be asked of his ability to handle a dressing room of big egos given his struggles to impose the same style and deal with player relations at Chelsea.

Sarri routinely questioned the mental strength of his squad at Stamford Bridge, claiming the players were "difficult to motivate".

The 60-year-old former banker looked set to leave in February when his authority was questioned after goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga refused to be substituted towards the end of the League Cup final and stayed on the pitch for a penalty shootout, which Chelsea lost to Manchester City.

Yet, Sarri managed to depart on a high note as Chelsea lost just one of its last eight Premier League games while the other contenders for a top-four finish stumbled towards the end of the season.

Eden Hazard then bade farewell in fitting fashion by scoring twice in a 4-1 rout of Arsenal in the Europa League final to ensure Chelsea again ended the season with a trophy despite the turmoil.

The timing of Juve's approach could not have been better for Sarri, with success at Chelsea likely to be far tougher for his successor.

Hazard joined Real Madrid last week for a fee in excess of 100 million euros ($113 million), while Chelsea currently cannot recruit a replacement as the club is serving a two-window transfer ban handed down by FIFA.

That is likely to lead to a change of tack in appointing the 11th permanent manager of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich's reign in charge of the club.

Chelsea is expected to try to lure club legend Frank Lampard back to Stamford Bridge despite the former midfielder's relative lack of experience after just one season in management at Derby County.

His attempt to lead the Rams back to the Premier League fell just short with a loss to Aston Villa in the Championship playoff final.

Ex-England international Lampard's return would appease a fan base that never took to Sarri and should see Chelsea using the transfer ban as an opportunity to finally prioritize the products of the club's academy.

 

 

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2019-06-18 07:44:17
<![CDATA[Zhang in the winning groove]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/18/content_37481938.htm During his three years on the PGA Tour Series-China, Zhang Xinjun had a couple of wins - but they were overshadowed by his six runner-up finishes.

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PGA-bound ace overflowing with confidence after second victory of year

During his three years on the PGA Tour Series-China, Zhang Xinjun had a couple of wins - but they were overshadowed by his six runner-up finishes.

That trend continued during his inaugural season on the Web.com Tour in 2017, when he added two more second-place performances.

The native of Shaanxi province might not have liked it, but he was earning a reputation for coming close without clinching.

Now those close calls seem to be a thing of the past as Zhang won his second Web.com Tour tournament of the season on Sunday, outlasting Dylan Wu on the third sudden-death playoff hole to capture the Lincoln Land Championship in Springfield, Illinois.

The victory is a nice bookend to his April triumph in the Dormie Network Classic in San Antonio, Texas.

Zhang carded a final-round 65 at Panther Creek to force a playoff with Wu, then prevailed by making birdie on the third extra hole.

After dropping to third on the Web.com Tour points list after briefly holding down top spot, Zhang is again No 1, 162 points ahead of his closest pursuer, Robby Shelton.

Zhang is also the tour's leading money winner, earning $380,226 this season, approximately $60,000 more than Shelton.

"This confirms that we belong out here and even on the PGA Tour," said Zhang, who has already locked up his PGA Tour membership for next season.

"Things that I've been working on, like ball-striking and putting, went well today. It puts me in a great mindset going to the tour next year.

"It's not very often that you get to be in a playoff going for the win. Being in that environment is a great learning experience, feeling the emotion and the intensity of it."

Zhang twice lost playoffs on the PGA Tour Series-China, dropping a three-man showdown to Brett Drewitt (Li Haotong was the third player) at the 2014 Wuhan Open and losing to Dou Zecheng in Henan province in 2016.

There was no such disappointment on Sunday, with Zhang's victory coming on Father's Day and with his wife, Chang Hong, expecting the couple's second child, a son, later this month.

"At the beginning of the week I set a goal that if I finished T3 or better I can take next week off to go home a little early to see my wife and my family," said Zhang, who turned 32 on Monday.

"It just makes it that much sweeter. This win is really for her; she is holding down the fort at home - obviously going through being pregnant, but also taking care of our daughter, Vanessa, at the same time."

Including the three-hole playoff, Zhang went bogey-free and had 14 birdies over his final 41 holes.

Though he had some dramatic shots in the playoff, Zhang's best shot of the day may have been earlier, at the par-5 16th.

After a great tee shot, he caught the lip of the bunker on his approach. He managed to stick his third shot to inside two feet for a tap-in birdie that gave him a share of the lead.

"We knew where we stood going into 16 and knew it was the best opportunity for birdie coming in," said Zhang.

"When I caught the bunker I got a little frustrated, but I talked to my caddie, who calmed me down. He gave me the confidence to hit a good bunker shot and I was able to stick it to about two feet and make the birdie putt."

Competing in just his second career Web.com Tour event, Wu used a flurry of birdies down the stretch - including five over his last eight holes - to force a playoff at 15-under.

The Northwestern University alumnus drained a crucial five-footer to save par on the second hole to extend the playoff before falling on the third.

The 22-year-old made a 15-foot birdie on his 72nd hole to post at 15-under, finishing about an hour before the leader's group finished.

"I did not have a good tee shot on the 18th; still had about 210 yards in. But I told my caddie that I was going for this flag," said Wu.

"It's all about seizing the opportunity. I actually played the first two events this season up on the Mackenzie Tour (PGA Tour Canada) and was signed up to play the third one this week but got in (to the Lincoln Land Championship) on the alternate list.

"I took a red-eye flight to arrive on Tuesday morning and had a great week."

Zhang will get on a plane this week too - but instead of going to a tournament, he'll start a well-earned vacation.

 

China's Zhang Xinjun, who will play on the PGA Tour next year, won the Web.com Tour's Lincoln Land Championship in Springfield, Illinois on Sunday by beating Dylan Wu in a playoff. PGA Tour

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2019-06-18 07:44:17
<![CDATA[Li hamstrung by late lapses]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/18/content_37481937.htm Li Haotong is becoming a fixture at golf's biggest tournaments. His next challenge is to start contending.

In 23 starts in the four majors, the Players Championship and the four World Golf Championships events, Li has made 18 cuts but managed only three top-10s.

His most memorable result was a third-place finish at the 2017 British Open, followed by a tie for seventh at the 2016 WGC-HSBC Championships and a tie for ninth at this year's Dell Technologies Match Play.

Last week, in his third appearance at the US Open and 10th major start overall, Li easily made the cut, opening with rounds of 71 and 70 for a workmanlike 1-under total.

However, he struggled on the final 36 holes at Pebble Beach, carding 72 and 75 to end the championship with a 4-under total, 17 strokes back of winner Gary Woodland.

Li finished tied for 52nd - a final-round drop of 25 places on the leaderboard for the Shanghai resident, who afterward declined to discuss his disappointing day with media.

The 2014 PGA Tour Series-China Player of the Year started his final round sluggishly with four bogeys and one birdie on the front nine.

The 23-year-old Li sparked hope of a recovery with consecutive birdies on the back nine, but they were his last of the day as he finished with four pars and three bogeys.

Li, a two-time winner on the European Tour, needed a solo-35th-place finish on Sunday to earn special temporary membership for the PGA Tour.

That would have entitled him to accept unlimited sponsor exemptions into PGA events for the remainder of the season, but the late bogeys threw a monkey wrench into the works.

Li has two more chances this season to earn the membership - at the British Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland (July 18-21) and at the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee (July 25-28).

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2019-06-18 07:44:17
<![CDATA[Steely Cyril ends Europe's wait]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/18/content_37481936.htm Finally, a Frenchman beat the odds.

Until Sunday, the PGA Tour Series-China featured winners from nine different countries since its debut in 2014 - but none from Europe.

England had come agonizingly close, with 2018 order of merit champion Callum Tarren finishing runner-up on six occasions. Last month, Tarren's compatriot Steve Lewton lost in a playoff in Nantong.

That all changed at the Suzhou Open.

In front of a packed grandstand on Jinji Lake International Golf Club's closing hole, Cyril Bouniol of France drained a pressure-packed 20-foot par putt to secure a one-shot victory over Trevor Sluman of the US.

"It's never easy to win, and it doesn't matter what lead you have or what tour you are playing, winning is never easy. Everyone played great here and Trevor was putting lots of pressure on me, so well played by him," said Bouniol, the only player in the field to shoot four sub-70 rounds.

It was a dramatic finish as Sluman, who was playing two groups in front of Bouniol, birdied holes 16 and 17 to card a 65 and walk off at 17-under.

Bouniol cruised to 5-under through 13 holes, but a bogey on the 14th followed by a three-putt on 17 reduced his lead to just one heading into what he called the "toughest hole" on the course.

The Frenchman needed to make par from the fringe to avoid a playoff, but a mis-hit chip left him with the difficult 20-footer, which he calmly drained.

"That three-putt on 17 was not good, especially since I knew 18 is by far the toughest hole on the course," said Bouniol. "I knew I needed to get up and down to win, but my chip was horrible. I just tried to laugh it off, knowing I still had a chance to make the putt.

"That definitely wasn't the easy way to win."

Bouniol spent a full season on the European Tour in 2015 and is playing his first year in China after earning his tour card through Q-school. Now halfway through the season, the 31-year-old said this victory could turn out to be the boost he needs to earn a ticket to the Web.com Tour in the US, where he resides with his wife.

"I've been wanting to win real bad over the past couple years, and it's tough. I've put a lot of hard work in. Whenever you have a chance, you have to seize it," he said.

"I'm just glad to get that win off my chest, and it's perfect timing, halfway through the season. I'm hoping for a strong finish to the season, and I want to win the order of merit."

Ireland's Niall Turner (69) chipped in for birdie on the final hole to finish third at 15-under, with Japan's Kenta Endo (69), one shot ahead of England's Stephen Lewton (67) and Americans Michael Perras (65) and Matt Gilchrest (72).

The top-five players on this season's order of merit will earn membership on next year's Web.com Tour, while finishers 6-10 will earn direct entry into the Web.com Tour's final qualifying tournament.

China's Liang Enqi was the highest-ranked amateur in the field at Suzhou. He had rounds of 68-72-68-70 to tie for 18th at 10-under.

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2019-06-18 07:44:17
<![CDATA[Premier League's Palace linked to Chinese takeover]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/17/content_37481448.htm English Premier League club Crystal Palace has held takeover talks with a "mystery Chinese businessman", according to a report in British newspaper The Sun.

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Businessman in talks with London club, says report

English Premier League club Crystal Palace has held takeover talks with a "mystery Chinese businessman", according to a report in British newspaper The Sun.

The tabloid claims that the south London team's American owners, Josh Harris and David Blitzer, are looking to sell their majority stake and in May met with the Chinese suitor and one of his family members, who acted as a translator.

The report claims that an initial offer of just under 200 million pounds ($250 million) was tabled, and that Palace has at least one other group seriously interested in buying the club.

The Sun reported that Harris and Blitzer have appointed US investment bank PJT Partners as advisers to help them cash in.

Harris and Blitzer, who both own stakes in the NHL's New Jersey Devils and the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers, have pumped 100m pounds into the Eagles after buying a 36 percent stake in December 2015. Chairman Steve Parish owns 18 percent.

Palace, managed by former England boss Roy Hodgson, comfortably staved off relegation last season, finishing 12th in the EPL, 15 points above the drop zone, thanks mainly to the goals of Wilfried Zaha.

Both striker Zaha and rightback Aaron Wan-Bissaka are expected to leave Palace for bigger clubs this summer, with Manchester United currently in negotiations to sign the latter.

News of the possible Palace takeover comes amid a surge of Chinese money into European soccer in recent years.

Italy's Inter Milan is owned by Chinese retail giant Suning, while Fosun International, one of China's largest conglomerates, owns Palace's Premier League rival Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Wolves' fortunes have turned around after being bought by Fosun for 30 million pounds in 2016. Last year, the club returned to the top flight after a six-year hiatus and defied expectations to finish seventh, thereby securing a place in the Europa League's qualifying rounds.

British radio station Talksport in May rated Fosun as the EPL's best club owner.

"With the day-to-day running of the club left to (chairman) Jeff Shi, and with help from super agent Jorge Mendes... Wolves romped to the Championship title last season to secure a return to the top flight," said an article on Talksport's website.

"They made some of the greatest signings ever seen in the Championship and bought a host of top-class players for the current Premier League campaign who have performed excellently.

"Given what they have done for Wolves so far, many expect Fosun to keep investing in the Molineux club to make them one of the best teams in England."

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2019-06-17 08:16:55
<![CDATA[Lakers land Davis to level up title credentials]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/17/content_37481447.htm NEW ORLEANS - Anthony Davis will wind up with LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers after all.

The New Orleans Pelicans have agreed to trade the disgruntled Davis to the Lakers for point guard Lonzo Ball, forward Brandon Ingram, shooting guard Josh Hart and three first-round draft choices, several sources said on Saturday.

The source spoke to Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the trade cannot become official until the new league year begins on July 6.

James, who has long reported to have pushed for the deal, welcomed his new teammate to Los Angeles in an Instagram post which read: "AD on da way!! Let's get it bro! Just the beginning."

The deal ends a nearly five-month saga that became an awkward NBA sideshow, arguably derailed the Lakers' push to make the playoffs and even cost people jobs after Davis requested a trade in late January through his agent, Rich Paul, who also represents James.

Now the 26-year-old Davis, a six-time All-Star, will bring his dynamic, up-tempo, above-the-rim play to Hollywood alongside the 34-year-old James, a three-time NBA champion and Finals regular.

In return, the Pelicans receive the promise of a young core the Lakers are blowing up in order to make the deal, as well as the opportunity to add more; New Orleans already had the first pick overall in Thursday's draft and will have the Lakers' fourth overall choice, giving new basketball operations chief David Griffin the chance to add another top-tier prospect to his presumed first pick of Duke star Zion Williamson.

It remains to be seen, however, how well Ingram will recover from a blood clot that sidelined him for part of last season. He was diagnosed with deep-vein thrombosis in March.

The Lakers and Pelicans missed the playoffs last season and Davis' trade demand caused a palpable degree of acrimony between the clubs as the Lakers publicly pursued a deal and the Pelicans asked the NBA to look into the possibility of a tampering violation.

After the trade deadline passed with no deal, Davis finished out the season as a lame-duck All-Star who at times heard boos and insults during home games and the Pelicans fired then general manager Dell Demps.

Several Lakers players acknowledged they had been shaken by thoughts of their possibly imminent departure, and resulting losses slid them out of playoff position at midseason.

Getting the deal done became a near-imperative for general manager Rob Pelinka and owner Jeanie Buss after the Lakers' latest round of front-office drama. On the final day of their franchise-record sixth straight non-playoff season, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson abruptly quit his job and criticized Pelinka for talking behind his back.

Johnson couldn't resist another backhanded shot at Pelinka on Saturday with a telling series of tweets that began: "Great job by Owner Jeanie Buss bringing Anthony Davis to the Lakers!"

With the Pelicans' front office now run by Griffin, whose relationship with James dates to the championship they won together in Cleveland in 2016, relations between the two franchises warmed enough to complete a trade that will ripple throughout the NBA.

It will affect the offseason plans of a number of other teams - namely, the Boston Celtics, who actively sought to acquire Davis and had an arsenal of young talent and draft picks to potentially include in a deal.

Davis is a dynamic 6-foot-10 forward who also plays center, shoots with range, runs the floor, blocks shots and can handle the ball. He has averaged 23.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks during his career. But in seven seasons in New Orleans, his Pelicans teams made the playoffs just twice and won one series against Portland two seasons ago.

The Lakers might not be done shopping for big names, either.

Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler and Southern California native Kawhi Leonard are among free agents who could be pursued by the Lakers, who've made no secret of their plan to build a super team through free agency.

The trade also helps launch a new era for the Pelicans under Griffin as New Orleans bids adieu to the 'Unibrow' and welcomes young talent the Lakers had patiently assembled with a series of high first-round picks and later choices that brought high value.

The Pelicans' biggest prize in the deal should be Ingram, if healthy.

The 21-year-old, 2016 No 2 overall pick showed signs of becoming an elite scorer alongside James, and he is expected to recover fully from his blood-clot problem and the resulting procedures.

The deal ends a tumultuous tenure with the Lakers for Ball, whose dream of playing for his hometown team lasted just two years.

The 2017 No 2 pick from UCLA grew up considerably with the Lakers while breaking free from the influence of his famous father. He exhibited effective playmaking skills and strong defense for the Lakers when healthy.

However, he struggled to score and appeared in just 99 of 164 games over his two seasons due to numerous injuries.

Hart played two solid seasons as a member of the Lakers' rotation, averaging 7.9 points and 3.9 rebounds after arriving from Villanova.

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2019-06-17 08:16:55
<![CDATA[Durant and Irving discuss teaming up]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/17/content_37481446.htm

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving reportedly huddled in New York City to talk about joining forces with the same team in free agency.

Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report said on Friday on Fox Sports Radio that the meeting between the two superstars likely means Durant won't be returning to the Golden State Warriors.

Durant has been in New York City since traveling there to have surgery for a ruptured Achilles he suffered on Monday in Toronto during Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

He is expected to miss the 2019-20 season.

"I'm told Kevin Durant is out of the hospital, moved into a hotel for the time being in the New York area, and him and Kyrie have met and have continued to discuss playing together next season. KD has moved all his stuff and will spend his summer in New York," Bucher said.

"Every indication says KD is making plans to be elsewhere because obviously Kyrie will not be joining the Warriors any time soon."

Multiple reports in recent days said Irving intends to leave the Boston Celtics when he becomes a free agent on June 30, with the Brooklyn Nets predicted to be his desired destination.

Meanwhile, DeMarcus Cousins fueled speculation about his future on Saturday with a pair of tweets that suggested he might be moving on from the Warriors.

Cousins, who is a free agent this offseason, tweeted thanks to Warriors fans and encouraged Durant and Klay Thompson to stay positive despite the injuries they sustained in the NBA Finals, which the Warriors lost in six games to the Toronto Raptors.

" (Heck of a) year!" Cousins tweeted. "Grateful for every moment. Love to my brothers! We overcame a lot of bs this year and fought to the very end. Didn't end the way we wanted but proud as ever how we finished this season. Got a taste of the big lights and I'm even hungrier for more!

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2019-06-17 08:16:55
<![CDATA[Ambitious rookie Jin taking aim at greatness]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/17/content_37481445.htm Although he has only been a pro for less than six months, young Chinese golfer Jin Cheng already considers himself something of a veteran of the sport.

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Young Chinese pro already setting sights on joining sport's elite ranks

Although he has only been a pro for less than six months, young Chinese golfer Jin Cheng already considers himself something of a veteran of the sport.

Since first picking up a golf club as a child, Jin has always dreamed big. Now, as the silverware mounts up, those dreams are growing bigger.

Next in the 21-year-old's sights is catching up with Li Haotong - the first Chinese player to crack the world's top 50 and now a regular in major fields.

"My goal is to play just like Li Haotong, standing on the world stage. That would pay off all the efforts that my family and I have made through the years," said Jin in an exclusive interview with China Daily at last week's PGA Tour Series-China Suzhou Open in Jiangsu province.

"Right now, I just want to focus on every shot that I make. There are many factors that I cannot control, but I will fight toward my dream."

Jin shot to prominence last year as an amateur when he won an individual bronze and a team silver at the Asian Games in Indonesia.

"It was such a unique experience to be part of the Chinese delegation that won honor for my country," said Jin. "I was actually very close to the gold, but still it was truly a milestone in my career."

Golf has been a constant in Jin's life since the age of 8. "I've played the sport for 13 years. At 15, I started to enter competitions," he said.

The decision to embark on a career in sport was jointly made with his parents, who, unlike many Chinese families, did not see a conflict between golf and their son's education.

Jin studied business administration and played college golf at the University of Southern California, but left USC midway through his junior year, in January, to turn pro.

"I never give up my academic life and I still can go back to finish my university education as all the credits I earned will still count," said Jin.

"It's important for kids to figure out what they actually want to do. One route is to use golf as a key to enter college, such as playing under the NCAA system.

"Or they can choose to turn pro like me. Even if they cannot become a professional player, the experience in the golf field can also be beneficial and can teach them a lot of life lessons."

Jin reckons young Chinese prospects nowadays are starting to reap rewards from the burgeoning youth golf scene here.

"The golf environment has improved so much since I was a kid. Now quality tournaments host many junior clinics and pro-am competitions for young golfers to play with the pros on great golf courses," he said.

Helping raise the bar has been the PGA Tour Series-China, which features international fields and awards Web.com Tour cards to its top five money winners. From the Web.com Tour, players can then graduate to the PGA Tour proper.

Both world No 40 Li and Zhang Xinjun, who won the Web.com Tour's Dormie Network Classic in San Antonio, Texas, in April, played on the PGA Tour Series-China and credit it for aiding their development.

As well as acting a stepping stone for new talent, the series invests in junior golf.

"We are providing youngsters with more opportunities to embrace golf, including opening more junior clinics and inviting more kids to the golf course," said Greg Gilligan, the PGA Tour's vice-president and its Greater China managing director.

"By interacting with the pros, kids can start to envisage their own golf future. And I'm truly glad to witness the growth of Chinese players."

China's Jin Cheng drives a tee shot at the PGA Tour Series-China Suzhou Open in Jiangsu province, where on Sunday he finished with a 4-under total, 14 strokes behind winner Cyril Bouniol of France. Provided to China Daily 

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2019-06-17 08:16:55
<![CDATA[Expo to showcase snowy solutions]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/17/content_37481444.htm As the 2022 Olympics approach, winter sports experts and industry leaders continue to flock to China to offer their advice, support and products. The fourth edition of the World Winter Sports (Beijing) Expo will gather the bulk of that expertise under one roof, from Oct 17-20, at the China National Convention Center in Beijing.

From skiing simulators to virtual-reality resort tours and the latest in high-tech gear, the expo promises to be a veritable treat for winter sports enthusiasts, organizers and business people alike.

The expo, which was first held in 2016 a year after Beijing won the right to host the 2022 Olympics, will this year focus on how infrastructure, the tourism sector and the mass promotion of winter sports will operate after the Games, using exhibits, presentations and brainstorming forums.

The globe's major winter sports powers, including Austria, Switzerland, France and Finland, in the 30,000 square meter exhibit area.

With China ambitiously valuing its winter sports market at 1 trillion yuan ($144 billion) by 2025, drawing on the experience of these major players will be key, say organizers.

"The expo has set the stage for all the strong winter sports nations in the world to demonstrate the best practice for us to facilitate preparations for the 2022 Olympics and to boost development of the winter sports sector through extensive exchanges," said Liu Jingmin, executive vice-president of the Beijing Olympic City Development Association.

The association, established after the 2008 Summer Games, has been co-organizing the expo with partner International Data Group since its inception. This year's event is expected to attract 600 brands and 160,000 visitors.

As this year's honorary guest, Finland is keen to showcase how it is helping China develop athletes and improve its organization of snow events and resort operation, said Jarno Syrjala, Finnish ambassador to China.

"Finland has a lot to offer in the training of athletes, construction of facilities and organization of international events and is committed to cooperating with China to prepare for 2022 and beyond," Syrjala said on Wednesday.

Initiated by the two countries' top leaders in 2017, the China-Finland Year of Winter Sports was launched in January to roll out a series of exchanges including a long-term training program for Chinese national teams at Finland's Vuokatti Olympic Training Center.

There, Finnish coaches are working with hundreds of Chinese cross-country skiers, biathletes, snowboarders and ski jumpers preparing for the 2022 Games.

"The level of Chinese athletes' individual skills is not on the elite level, but their potential is world-class. The goal is clear that we want to help them be the best," said Veikko Halonen, CEO of Vuokatti.

Finland, where locals jest that babies are born with skis on their feet, has won more than 160 Winter Olympic medals since 1924.

As part of China's ambition to involve 300 million people in ice and snow activities by 2022, the country had built 738 ski resorts and 334 indoor skating rinks by June 2018, while winter sports facilities and tourism spots received 197 million visits during the 2017-18 season, a 16 percent annual increase, according to official figures.

Impressive as those numbers are, China's winter sports culture and operational expertise remain underdeveloped, highlighted by a number of fatal accidents and general customer dissatisfaction at major ski resorts in recent years.

The nation needs to get quality and safety up to speed with its industry growth, reckons Florian Hajzer, general manager of Italian snowmaking brand TechnoAlpin's China branch.

"Looking at what's been happening in the ice and snow industry around the world, in no country is there something comparable to what's happening in China," said Hajzer, who's been studying and working in China for seven years.

"To be completely honest, this is not rocket science. But all the events and facilities need to be done with quality, while the Chinese are still on a learning curve."

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2019-06-17 08:16:55
<![CDATA[China hires legendary Lindholm]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/17/content_37481443.htm Curling great Peja Lindholm has become the latest foreign addition to China's push for glory at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

The 49-year-old Swede has been appointed head coach of the Chinese curling squad, and will officially take the reins in August.

"I'm so excited to be the head coach of the Chinese national curling team," Lindholm was quoted in a statement on the Chinese Curling Association (CCA) website on Saturday.

"The squad is young and energetic... I've been paying attention to the team at international competitions for a long time, and I'm familiar with the players.

"I believe with the support of the coaches, Team China can greatly improve and become a truly strong team on the international stage."

As a player, Lindholm won three world titles and a pair of European championships over a career that spanned two decades, however a medal eluded him in his three Olympic appearances (1998, 2002 and 2006).

After embarking on a coaching career in 2011, the silverware continued to rack up, with Lindholm steering Sweden to four world titles, one Olympic gold medal (Anna Hasselborg) and one silver (for Niklas Edin) at last year's Winter Games in Pyeongchang.

In total, Sweden amassed 31 medals during his reign, according to the CCA, before resigning as head coach in May.

"After nine years I decided to do new stuff. This means I will leave SWE curling as the national coach. So many memories I have together with the teams! Thanks to you all and best of luck in the future. I will NEVER forget this," Lindholm wrote on Twitter at the time.

Lindholm's appointment comes as China continues to invest heavily in hiring foreign coaches to help the nation close the gap to the world's ice and snow powerhouses in preparation for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

The foreign influx has even been evident in sports in which China is traditionally strong, with Korean Kim Sun-tae taking charge of the Chinese short-track speed skating squad.

The Chinese men's and women's curling teams were only formed in 2002 and 2003 respectively, but have made rapid progress up the ranks.

The women's squad won the 2009 word title and bronze at the 2010 Olympics, while last month the men's team pulled off a shock with a runner-up finish at the Curling World Cup final in Beijing.

Despite such successes, however, officials are urging for greater efforts to be made as Beijing 2022 draws ever closer.

"Some highlights were achieved in the past season on ice and snow, but the overall performance wasn't satisfying enough compared to the progress expected to be made at this point to realize our high ambitions for 2022," said Gou Zhongwen, director of the General Administration of Sport of China.

"It's a pressing challenge where we don't have time on our side. We must stop feeling complacent about the small steps made so far, and we must mobilize all possible resources and try to adopt some unconventional methods to prepare our teams in the next three years."

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2019-06-17 08:16:55
<![CDATA[Steel Roses in bloom, nip rift rumors in bud]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/15/content_37481159.htm

China's Steel Roses got off the mark at the FIFA Women's World Cup on Thursday, shooting down their critics and rumors of a rift between head coach Jia Xiuquan and star player Wang Shuang in the process.

In a dominant display that lacked only for more goals, a first-half volley from striker Li Ying proved enough to earn the points against South Africa at Parc des Princes in Paris.

The 1-0 win leaves China third in Group B, level on points with second-place Spain to set up a mouthwatering showdown between the two teams on Monday (Tuesday morning Beijing time), when a spot in the knockout stage will be up for grabs.

Wang's omission from the starting XI (she was eventually introduced after the interval) in the opening 1-0 loss to Germany had raised eyebrows and sparked speculation on social media that the Paris Saint-Germain star had somehow fallen out with coach Jia.

However, she was restored to the lineup on Thursday and, after a solid if unspectacular display, was keen to rubbish talk of discord within the squad.

"I've said that I was not satisfied with my recent performances and my condition, so I'm grateful to coach Jia for letting me play," said the 24-year-old, who is expected to leave PSG this summer and return to play in China.

"I even felt that I didn't meet his expectations. As he said, I could have set up more attacks. After I joined up with Team China from Paris, the team and the coaches have been helping and supporting me.

"I know that I'm not in top condition. Coach Jia and the other coaches have been giving me special help after each training session.

"During the past year, coach Jia has made great efforts to help the team, and we all recognize that. He's like a father to the team. He's all for the good of the team. I wish the media and fans would not indulge in such speculation."

Jia declared himself generally pleased with the performance but lamented China's lack of ruthlessness up front.

"I think my players should have been better at seizing the chances at the critical moments and should have been more calm. For the next game, the team needs to improve control of the ball," said Jia.

"I hope that the players can exhibit their true ability. Their desire to win has impressed me the most over the last year and I've been deeply moved and encouraged by this.

"I think they've done a great job today. And I think this is also a manifestation of their mentality. They want to win."

Jia, an esteemed coach with 20 years' experience in the men's game, took the reins last year, steering his squad to a runner-up finish at the Asian Games in Indonesia.

He has set lofty targets for his team in France, suggesting the Steel Roses could rekindle their glory days, when the Chinese squads returned from the 1996 Olympics and the 1999 World Cup with silver medals.

"Our goal is to reach the final of the World Cup, and we want to go even further and win the championship," the 56-year-old said before the tournament kicked off.

"I know it sounds much more reasonable for us to aim for a quarterfinal finish, however I want my players to dream bigger and then go all out to achieve the highest goal possible."

Now, Spain, which defeated South Africa 3-1 in its opener, stands between China and a place in the knockout rounds, with the top two teams in each group and the four best third-place finishers qualifying for the last 16.

Chinese women's soccer legend Sun Wen reckons China's best chance of victory lies in absorbing Spanish pressure and hitting them on the counterattack.

"We need to rely on our defense. The team has done a great job in keeping its defensive shape," said Wen, a veteran of the vintage '96 and '99 sides. "Improving the counterattack and finishing will be key if China wants to go further in the tournament. Stay focused and keep fighting as a group."

]]> 2019-06-15 06:38:22 <![CDATA[Raptors rejoice at maiden NBA title]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/15/content_37481158.htm

OAKLAND, California - The Toronto Raptors celebrated their first NBA championship on the Golden State Warriors' home floor on Thursday night.

The two-time defending champs, meanwhile, scheduled their consolation party at a local hospital.

Fred VanVleet gave Toronto the lead for good on a 3-pointer with 3:46 remaining, and the Raptors took advantage of another serious Golden State injury to beat the Warriors 114-110 on Thursday night and reward Canada with its first NBA championship.

Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry scored 26 points apiece while VanVleet and Kawhi Leonard added 22 each in a balanced attack that allowed the Raptors to win at Oracle Arena for the third straight time en route to a 4-2 win in the best-of-seven NBA Finals.

"It means a lot for our city and the country and for these players, staff," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of the magnitude of the achievement. "I don't know if it would have meant any more or any less (beating a team other than the Warriors), to be honest with you. You get the win and you're just happy you got it and celebrate that fact."

Going for a fourth title in five years, the Warriors put up a valiant effort in their last game at Oracle Arena without Kevin Durant, who ruptured his right Achilles tendon in Game 5, and for the final 14:22 without Klay Thompson, who had 30 points before sustaining a left knee injury late in the third quarter.

"When Klay goes down and is out for the game, it's just sort of a, 'You got to be kidding me, like, this has to stop,'" Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "But it's just the way it's gone. I don't know if it's related to five straight seasons of playing 100-plus games and just all the wear and tear, but it's devastating."

The game was tied three times in the fourth quarter before VanVleet buried his fifth 3-pointer of the game for a 104-101 Raptors advantage.

Toronto went on to lead by as many as six before a 3-pointer by Draymond Green cut the deficit in half, and the Warriors rallied within 111-110 with 18.5 seconds left.

Golden State then forced a Toronto turnover on a bad pass from Danny Green with 9.6 seconds to go, but Stephen Curry misfired on a 3-point attempt with eight seconds left that could have put the Warriors in front.

"I just thought it was in," Kerr said of his reaction to Curry's shot. "I always think every shot Steph takes is going in. But they don't all go in.

"But what a warrior, no pun intended. Steph was getting hounded this entire series. Toronto did a great job on him sending two, three people at him, hounding him and harassing him. And especially without Klay to rely on in that fourth quarter, I thought he got a little worn down."

Curry finished with 21 points, but he shot just 3-for-11 from 3-point range. He wound up 23-for-67 on 3s in the series, setting a record for most misses (44) in a six-game Finals.

After a wild scramble for the rebound of Curry's shot, the Warriors were assessed a technical foul for calling a timeout with 0.9 seconds remaining when they had none left.

Leonard made it a two-point game by sinking the free throw, then added two more after getting fouled on the inbounds pass to secure Toronto's third road win in the series. No team had accomplished that feat since the Los Angeles Lakers in 2001.

Leonard was chosen the Finals MVP. The 27-year-old joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James as the only players to claim the honor for two different teams.

Leonard, who won the award with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014, is the only one to earn the honor in both conferences.

The pending free agent went out of his way to praise his teammates, even though Leonard put up the third-most points in a single postseason, 732. His total trails only Michael Jordan's 759 in 1992 and James' 748 last year.

"It was a whole group collectively," Leonard said. "Fred played amazing in that fourth. Kyle played amazing tonight throughout the whole game. Pascal played big. I just kept striving and pushing, and I ended up with the trophy, but everybody deserves it."

The last five games of the series were won by the road team. The five road wins equaled the Finals record set by Boston-Milwaukee in 1974 and tied by Chicago-Phoenix in 1993.

"It allows you to have that us-against-the-world mentality where the only thing that matters is the guy next to you," VanVleet said of the Raptors' road mentality.

"Your crowd being anxious and excited doesn't have any effect on you when you're on the road. It takes a different level of effort, and I think that for us going on the road it allowed us to take it up a notch more than what we usually do."

Reuters

 

The Toronto Raptors celebrate with the Larry O'Brien Trophy after defeating the Golden State Warriors 114-110 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals for a 4-2 series victory at Oracle Arena, Oakland, California on Friday. The triumph marked the first time a franchise from Canada has won the championship. USA Today Sports

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2019-06-15 06:38:22
<![CDATA['We'll be back,' vow Warriors]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/15/content_37481157.htm

Stephen Curry and Draymond Green vow the Golden State Warriors will remain championship contenders despite their NBA Finals loss to Toronto and major injuries to stars Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant.

Both Durant and Thompson, whose agent said has a torn knee ligament, could be free agents next season, so the Warriors' roster could see major changes before the next campaign.

"There's a lot of decisions that will go into the summer and we'll deal with those," Curry said.

"True champions like we are, we should be able to adapt and keep this same kind of DNA no matter what our roster looks like next year.

"It's tough to lose in the finals, but the story's not over yet."

The dethroned Warriors missed a chance for a third consecutive title and to become the first team in 50 years to win four in five years.

"Everybody thinks it's the end of us. But that's just not smart. We're not done yet," Green said. "We lost this year. I hear a lot of that noise. It's the end of a run and all that jazz. I don't see it happening though. We'll be back.

"This team has a ton of heart so it's no shocker we continue to fight. I don't know many people with as much heart as Klay. Aggressive as he was, he was carrying us and when he went down obviously we lose a lot."

Reuters

]]> 2019-06-15 06:38:22 <![CDATA[Fans bid fond farewell to Lee and his legendary rivalry]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/15/content_37481156.htm

The retirement of Malaysian badminton icon Lee Chong Wei this week sparked an emotional outpouring of appreciation from Chinese fans and a touching tribute from his longtime on-court Chinese rival, Lin Dan.

Former world No 1 Lee on Thursday called time on his 19-year career due to the effects of his recent battle with nose cancer, with the player fondly acknowledging his inextricable links to China.

"I have appreciated the support of my Chinese fans for so many years," said 36-year-old Lee, whose family roots trace back to East China's Fujian province.

"I always hear them cheering for me no matter where I play. I feel so grateful to have them behind my back. I hope I can see them more in China ... at some promotional events or amateur competitions."

Responding to a message Lee posted on Sina Weibo, tens of thousands of Chinese fans left comments paying tribute to the iconic star and his rivalry with Lin, aka Super Dan.

Lin reacted to Lee's retirement immediately on his Weibo account by sharing a song entitled "Don't Cry, Friend", accompanied by the message: "Heading for the battle alone, with no more companion."

"Eventually, the day has arrived and we can say that an era has ended," Lin told The Paper.cn on Friday.

"I feel like it's possible for Chong Wei to come back. Maybe we can still meet each other on the court but it won't matter whether it's at the Olympics or not," said the 35-year-old Lin.

Lee's epic rivalry with Lin began in 2004 and spanned 40 matches, including two finals and one semifinal at the Olympics.

Ranked No 1 in the world at the time, Lee was overwhelmed by Lin in a straight-sets loss at the 2008 Beijing Games final, and again succumbed to the Chinese superstar in a thrilling London 2012 final, which drew an estimated global TV audience of over 1 billion.

Lee avenged those defeats at Rio 2016 by ousting Lin in the semifinals but then failed to overcome Lin's younger teammate, Chen Long, in his third Olympic final appearance.

Lin triumphed 21-16, 21-17 in what turned out to be their last hurrah - a quarterfinal clash at the prestigious All England Open in March last year.

The respect between the two was again evident then, with Lin remarking: "Because Chong Wei hasn't retired, that has spurred me on to continue."

Lee's unassuming character off the court contrasted sharply with the effervescent Lin, however the two shared the same mindset of pushing each other on to greater heights.

"Like Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in tennis who are always competing ... if there's no Lin Dan, there would not be Lee Chong Wei today," Lee told Xinhua. "Hopefully, we can still work together to promote the sport off the court in the future."

Lee also wished Lin well in his ongoing quest to qualify for a fifth Olympics. "We may no longer be opponents but we are still good friends. I am looking forward to seeing him play at the Tokyo Games," he said.

Lee was ranked No 1 for 200 straight weeks from 2008-12 and won 69 major titles, including 47 in the World Tour's super series, four All England Opens and two Asian championships.

Doctors have assured him his cancer is in remission but Lee now lacks the endurance for high-intensity training and hasn't played since a semifinal loss to Japan's current world No 1 Kento Momota at a tournament in Indonesia last July.

]]> 2019-06-15 06:38:22 <![CDATA[Clear measures set to control financial risks]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/14/content_37480785.htm

Vice-Premier: Institutions should enhance counter-cyclical adjustments

China's top financial regulators have warned about risks in complicated financial products and banks' off-balance sheet business, in a bid to prevent cross-market risk contagion, according to senior officials on Thursday.

Measures should be taken to "precisely" tackle different types of risk in the financial sector, and any contagion crossing regions and markets should be avoided, Vice-Premier Liu He said at the Lujiazui Forum in Shanghai on Thursday.

Contractionary effects, aroused by pro-cyclical activities and market expectations, could add to financial risks, according to Liu. "Financial institutions should enhance counter-cyclical adjustments and ensure liquidity is ample and reasonable."

For controlling financial risks, the financial regulators have taken specific measures and enhanced experience on dealing with the matter. The phased target of the battle - to prevent and defuse financial risks, has been achieved, Liu said at the forum.

Given some recent cases of stabilizing the domestic banking sector, "any systemic impact is likely to be manageable, because the measures are aimed at buffering the shock to local financial markets and economies and containing any potential contagion", said Yulia Wan, a senior analyst with Moody's.

Guo Shuqing, the People's Bank of China's Party secretary and head of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, also warned at the same forum about strictly preventing the growth of financial products with complicated structures.

Financial instruments with multiple tranches have accounted for a large part of the wealth management products issued by commercial banks, or the "shadow banking" business, with potential risks that are hard to supervise.

High-risk assets declined by 13.74 trillion yuan ($1.98 trillion) in the past two years, because of the national campaign of tightening regulations on wealth and asset management products. As a result, the financial costs have been reduced, said Guo.

"Currently, there is a global trend toward easing financial regulation, which may give a new boost to 'shadow banks', and we need to pay more attention to that," he said.

Global shadow banking growth post-crisis has been fueled by increased bank regulation, low interest rates, a generally-benign economic backdrop, the rise of financial technology and increasingly supportive government policies to promote economic development and credit availability, said a report from Fitch Ratings, an international ratings agency.

Guo also warned about speculative activities in the property market. "Some property enterprises have occupied too much credit resources, which led to lower efficiency of capital and encouraged speculative investment in the property industry," he mentioned, warning of the high level of leverage in the household sector.

Financial regulators, however, should balance the risk-control moves against their desire to maintain credit availability, according to the Fitch report.

The financial regulators have encouraged banks to issue more loans to small and micro businesses, aimed to ease downside risks of economic growth. According to data from the CBIRC, by the end of May, the five largest commercial banks in China has increased lending to small and micro enterprises by 23.7 percent, compared with the volume at the end of 2018. The average lending rate was 4.79 percent, down by 0.65 percentage point from 2018. Meanwhile, the banks are coordinating with local governments for purchasing bonds.

Fitch expects Chinese shadow banking assets relative to nominal domestic GDP to contract further in 2019, declining to approximately 50 percent. In addition, Chinese banks, subject to their own capital adequacy constraints, are expected to continue to bring off-balance-sheet exposures back on to their balance sheets, helping to better manage the system-wide effects.

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2019-06-14 08:16:35
<![CDATA[Shanghai to pilot financial opening-up]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/14/content_37480784.htm

China will roll out a host of measures to expedite two-way financial opening-up, with Shanghai as the key pilot, top financial regulators said on Thursday.

Analysts said the measures are set to strengthen the financial markets' ability to bolster economic growth, while the induced risks shall be controllable.

The central bank will strongly support Shanghai's aspiration to become an international financial center, Yi Gang, governor of the People's Bank of China, said at the Lujiazui Forum in Shanghai on Thursday.

"The core of developing Shanghai into an international financial center is to make the city the global center for the allocation and risk management of renminbi-denominated financial assets," said Yi, adding that this requires Shanghai to strengthen its clout in asset pricing and develop more derivative instruments.

Specifically, the foreign ownership caps of securities firms and fund managers will be lifted in Shanghai, while business scopes of foreign financial institutions located in the city will also be expanded, Yi said.

Moreover, the central bank will reform bank account system management in Shanghai to facilitate cross-border transactions, refine intrabank foreign exchange and bond markets, and provide more types of forex options.

Pan Gongsheng, head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, said at the same forum that the top foreign exchange regulator will elevate the convertibility of China's capital account mainly by pushing forward two-way financial market opening-up.

The SAFE will reform the Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor program and the RMB Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor program, which enable licensed international investors to participate in mainland stock exchanges, Pan said.

"We will enlarge the investment scopes of the programs, and study moderately easing or even canceling the quota management of the QFII program," said Pan.

More capital market opening-up measures were announced by Yi Huiman, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, the top securities regulator.

China will encourage more foreign participation in the country's foreign exchange bond market, and will facilitate the issuance of yuan-denominated "Panda Bonds" by overseas institutions in China, Yi said.

In addition, the CSRC plans to relax rules for foreign banks to provide fund custodian services in China and will give foreign investors wider access to its futures market, Yi said, adding that the country will firmly push ahead capital market opening-up no matter how the external environment changes.

Liu Chunsheng, an associate professor at the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing, said the package of financial opening-up measures came at a time when it is imperative to improve the efficiency of the capital market to support the real economy.

"Further financial opening-up may expose the country to higher cross-border capital flow risks, but market participants will sharpen their capacity in global competition, which will in turn revamp the market," Liu said.

Risks brought by opening-up measures should be under control, as the regulators adopt a progressive manner and have rich experience in risk prevention, Liu said.

"The ability of the forex market to mitigate risks has notably improved," Pan said. Recent external challenges have depressed the yuan somewhat, but the forex market is largely stable with rising forex reserves, according to Pan.

China is capable and confident of keeping its currency basically stable, Pan said, citing the great potential for overseas capital to flow into the country's capital market.

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2019-06-14 08:16:35
<![CDATA[Telecom company ramps up 5G efforts]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/14/content_37480783.htm Shortly after winning a 5G commercial license a week ago, China Mobile, the world's largest telecom carrier by mobile subscribers, has started arguably its biggest effort so far to invite bids for network construction and smartphone testing.

China Mobile, the world's largest telecom carrier by mobile subscribers, has started accepting bids for the first phase of its 5G buildout in 2019, with the project's pre-estimated price set at 19.26 billion yuan ($2.79 billion).

The forecast price exceeded the investment size of roughly 17 billion yuan China Mobile said earlier that it could pour into 5G this year, signifying that the company has ramped up the push to roll out the superfast network, analysts said.

 

A visitor to the first China-Central and Eastern European Countries Expo, which was held in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, experiences 5G enabled VR equipment. Xinhua

According to the Beijing-based company, it has released a notice on its official bidding website on June 10, detailing the requirements for the first phase of its 5G wireless network project in 2019.

Just one day later, China Mobile said on the same website that it will buy 10,100 smartphones from five domestic manufacturers for 5G testing, marking its biggest 5G smartphone order so far.

That also means an accelerated step by China Mobile to promote 5G smartphones, as the company previously noted in a white paper that its plan was to buy more than 10,000 5G smartphones and other terminals in July.

The company told China Daily that these smartphones which include 5,000 units from domestic leader Huawei are for experience testing for some users, and will not be sold to the public.

Meanwhile, according to research company Nomura, China Mobile has awarded its first round of 5G network equipment contracts after China officially granted a 5G license to it on June 6. The company aims to offer 5G commercial services in 40 cities by September.

Xiang Ligang, director-general of Information Consumption Alliance, a telecom industry association, said the moves highlight that China Mobile has a sprawling subscriber base, and it is relatively better funded with cash compared with its rivals.

Major telecom carriers China Unicom and China Telecom also said they are aiming to cover at least 40 cities with 5G services by the end of this year.

But amid the current enthusiasm for the next-generation wireless technology which will power applications such as autonomous driving, some professionals and analysts also give some suggestions.

Zhao Aiming, deputy head of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council, which regulates State-owned enterprises including telecom carriers, said at a recent conference that network operators should avoid repetitive investments in 5G and pay attention to the potential risks in industrial development.

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2019-06-14 08:16:35
<![CDATA[Geely Auto Group in partnership with LG Chem]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/14/content_37480782.htm Chinese carmaker Geely Auto Group announced a deal on Thursday to partner with South Korean battery maker LG Chem to power its drive into the fast-growing new energy vehicle segment.

Shanghai Maple Guorun, a subsidiary of Geely, will form a 50-50 joint venture with LG Chem in China with a registered capital of $188 million to manufacture and sell batteries for new energy vehicles, said the carmaker in a statement.

Construction of the joint venture will kick off later this year. When completed by the end of 2021, it is expected to have an annual production capacity of 10 GWh, and the batteries would be installed on Geely's vehicles from 2022, said Reuters citing LG Chem.

Geely President and CEO An Conghui said: "The signing of this joint venture agreement with LG Chem further strengthens our position as a leader in new energy vehicles, where we aim to create more value and better ownership experience for our consumers."

The carmaker is planning to launch more than 30 electrified vehicles including hybrids and pure electric vehicles in the next two years.

This is part of its ambitious electrification plan called Blue Geely Initiative released in late 2015.

According to the plan, Geely aims for 90 percent of its sales to come from electrified vehicles - including mild hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles - starting from 2020.

In the first five months of this year Geely's electrified vehicle sales totaled 41,615. In May, the sales stood at 10,115, representing a 25 percent increase from the same month last year.

The carmaker launched a pure electric vehicle brand called Geometry in April 2019 and the first model under the brand, Geometry A, has hit the market.

An said Geely has already established a strong supply chain network for the production and development of new energy vehicles.

In terms of batteries, it set up a 1 billion yuan ($145 million) joint venture in December 2018 with China's largest power battery maker CATL to produce batteries for its vehicles.

Yale Zhang, managing director of Shanghai-based consulting firm Automotive Foresight, said the joint venture with LG Chem will prevent Geely's overreliance on CATL and drive down battery costs as well.

CATL has similar joint ventures with several other Chinese companies as well, including the country's largest carmaker by sales SAIC Motor Group.

China overtook the United States as the world's largest new energy vehicle market in 2015, and the sales have seen a rising trajectory so far.

Sales of pure electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are expected to reach at least 1.6 million this year, up from 1.2 million from 2018, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

CAAM statistics show that sales in the first five months totaled 464,000 in China, up 41.5 percent year-on-year. New energy vehicles were the only segment that saw sales growth in the country this year in the period despite a 11-month fall in the overall automotive market since July 2018.

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2019-06-14 08:16:35
<![CDATA[Fast fashion brands losing edge as high-quality products gain traction]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/14/content_37480781.htm The 35-year-old US retailer Forever 21, which has said it will shut all of its stores in China, reflects the strain of fierce competition that fast fashion brands face in China.

Many foreign fast fashion brands have seen slowing growth in the Chinese market in recent years, in sharp contrast with earlier days when they could make some quick and easy money.

But now, they are struggling to meet Chinese consumers' increasing demand for quality goods, observers said.

Some Chinese consumers said the inferior quality of fast fashion, which is inexpensive and rapidly produced to meet the latest trends, and its generally Western designs do not tailor to Chinese preferences.

"Chinese consumers are becoming more rational, and they are not blindly following the crowd to imitate others," said Zhao Ping, deputy director of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation of the Ministry of Commerce.

"Before, some fast fashion brands imitated the designs of luxury brands and attracted some consumers. Now it's not like that anymore. But some brands didn't realize the problem," said Zhao.

"Most foreign fast fashion brands are not doing a good job in localization, as they are not familiar enough with the commercial culture and consumer mentality in China. They think that since fashion brands originated in developed countries, Chinese consumers will buy into them easily. That's not true now."

"Localization of multinational corporations must keep pace with the times," she said. "Otherwise, they will easily be abandoned by consumers."

Since launching its first store in Changshu, Jiangsu province, in 2008, Forever 21 opened 28 stores in China and closed eight. Facing the strong rivals that dominate the Chinese market, like Spanish company Zara, Sweden's H&M and Japan-based Uniqlo - each of which has opened more than 500 stores - Forever 21 has had a hard time.

The company has also continued to post losses in its international business. Since 2016, it has withdrawn from Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan and Australia, in addition to closing some stores in the United States.

Forever 21's Chinese website has shut down. Some of its brick-and-mortar stores have closed, and others are clearing out stock with significantly discounted prices. The brand mainly features US leisure styles and targets young female consumers. Most of its clothes carry price tags that are below $60.

In November, meanwhile, UK fashion chain Topshop said it would close its online flagship store on Tmall, a major e-commerce platform owned by Alibaba in China, after about five years of online operation.

Li Yun, a shopper in her 30s who lives in Beijing, said: "If I valued stylish designs, I may choose some trendier brands. If I valued quality more, I may choose Uniqlo. Some fast fashion brands don't really have any outstanding advantages other than their cheap prices."

More industrial players, including local fashion brands and some well-received internet online retailers, are joining the clothing sector, and the market pattern in China has changed.

"In fact, with a slowing global economy, the fast-expanding strategy of fast fashion brands is not in line with the current economic status," said Zhao, of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation. "Fast fashion brands should reposition themselves, improve the quality of their clothes and produce more durable products. Being green and sustainable should be the growth path."

From 2014 to 2018, fashion retail brand H&M had a 0.4 percent market share in China. The market share in China of its competitor Zara was also 0.4 percent in 2014 and 2015, but edged up to 0.5 percent from 2016 to 2018, according to market research provider Euromonitor International.

Uniqlo, meanwhile, catered to the new consumption pattern of China's young consumers, who are willing to pay for quality rather than quantity. From 2014 to 2018, its market share climbed from 0.7 percent to 1.2 percent in the Chinese market.

From 2019 to 2023, the annual growth rate for apparel in China is expected to decline, whereas China will remain the top global market in terms of retail value, according to Euromonitor International.

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2019-06-14 08:16:35
<![CDATA[German software giant SAP to offer more services in Chinese market]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/14/content_37480780.htm German software and cloud giant SAP SE is scrambling to offer more localized services in China as part of its broader efforts to step up investment in the country, the fastest growing market for the company.

SAP announced a new commerce cloud has landed in China, enriching its cloud portfolio and to help local enterprises speed up their digital transformation.

The move came after SAP spent nearly $70 billion in the past 10 years to transform itself from a traditional software company into a competitive cloud service provider.

"To win in business today you have to provide a remarkable experience for your customers and evolving to the cloud is essential to doing that," SAP China President Mark Gibbs said.

"With the largest global footprint and more than 100 solution offerings ... We continue to step up our commitment in China by broadening our cloud portfolio to bring greater value to our Chinese customers," he said.

SAP said the new commerce cloud in China is designed to support local innovation and cater to the "China speed" by leveraging the latest container technology and micro-services architecture.

This came after SAP announced in January its "China Accelerators", a series of strategic initiatives that are part of a new five-year plan to bolster business growth in the country.

The company said it will pour more resources to expand its presence in the market for small and medium-sized enterprises, grow the local talent force and infrastructure, and nurture the next-generation ecosystem in China.

The technology giant delivered its biggest-ever year in the country in 2018, with SAP CEO Bill McDermott calling China "the jewel in the crown" for the company and saying it is doubling down on its presence here.

McDermott forecast that China is highly likely to emerge as the largest market for SAP by 2025, he said in an earlier interview with China Daily.

It also deepened its partnership with Chinese internet heavyweight Alibaba Group Holding Ltd in cloud services, and it has more than 15,000 enterprise customers in China as of today.

Charlie Dai, analyst at market research company Forrester Research Inc, said there is a growing demand among Chinese enterprises to improve operational efficiency and streamline business processes and increasing adoption of cloud-based solutions to boost market growth.

Alibaba is the biggest public service provider in China. The ties will boost SAP's local presence, Dai said.

Last week, SAP announced a partnership with Tsinghua University to make available a course on digital transformation strategies for its School of Economics and Management at the university. The project is designed to develop talents in digital transformation.

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2019-06-14 08:16:35
<![CDATA[BRI key to connectivity for logistics giant]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/14/content_37480779.htm Deutsche Post DHL Group has extended its cross-border road transportation network to economies involved in the initiative

Following the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge late last year, Deutsche Post DHL Group, which is headquartered in Bonn, Germany, decided to launch a cross-border truck service via the bridge that will cut transit time by 75 percent and costs by up to 15 percent compared with previous routes.

The new service can deliver goods from Shenzhen to Singapore in six to eight days door-to-door, significantly shorter than ocean freight which takes between 13 and 14 days.

The group's cross-border road transportation network has extended to countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative including China, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

 

DHL's booth at the Shenzhen International Logistics and Transportation Fair on Oct 11, 2018. Provided to China Daily

Since the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed by China in 2013, Deutsche Post DHL, one of the world's largest mail and logistics companies, has announced several moves to tap into the opportunities presented by the initiative as an active player in forging an international logistics and transportation network with an unprecedented scale. Viewing China as one of its top markets, Deutsche Post DHL Group has tied its future closely to the development of the China market.

In the past few years, what efforts has Deutsche Post DHL Group made to tap into the opportunities presented by the Belt and Road Initiative?

DHL has been developing multimodal services along the Belt and Road Initiative since 2008, and now connects China, Japan and Southeast Asia to Europe. Dubbed "The DHL Asia-Europe-Asia Multimodal Network", the comprehensive network spans six main rail routes crisscrossing the main centers of China into Europe.

This connectivity provides businesses with an additional mode of transportation - DHL's multimodal rail solution provides an alternative up to six times cheaper than airfreight, and about 50 percent faster than ocean freight.

Countries and regions related to the Belt and Road Initiative have a combined population accounting for 62 percent of the world's population and 30 percent of global GDP. What's the significance of the initiative for Deutsche Post DHL Group's global business and China operations in particular?

In general, I see the Belt and Road Initiative as a positive development because it can connect countries and regions that are not well connected to the global economy, which is good. We need to do something to connect countries more to the global environment so they can participate. We are trying to be as supportive as possible because we think it's good to improve connectivity and that's the idea of the Belt and Road Initiative. At the moment, we are building infrastructure.

What's your biggest achievement in China so far? How has Deutsche Post DHL Group performed globally and in China in 2018?

I think we are proud of all our activities. I am proud of our footprint. We are present in all provinces of China, with sizable operations, which is probably unique. We are not just serving Shenzhen, Shanghai or Hong Kong, we are serving the whole China market.

Since our joint venture with Sinotrans in 1986, we are here for a long time with local experience.

We have a local face, a local team, in a global environment, and that is our recipe for success. We need local people who are well trusted and well connected to the global network. That works well in China.

SF Holding Co Ltd and Deutsche Post DHL Group launched their co-branded business, SF DHL Supply Chain China in Shanghai. Why did you make such a decision? What are your expectations for your supply chain business in China?

The reason for reaching the supply chain deal with SF Holding in a booming market is because we felt combining that with SF's capabilities would give that co-organization another growth opportunity that we cannot get to. We mainly serve multinational customers, and SF is serving multinational but also many domestic customers.

We think the combination of SF's customer base and capabilities with ours is the best solution going forward. We expect to see more growth and also benefit from the growth.

What are your business prospects in China? How would you achieve them?

The China market is quite sizable. Some industry analysts are forecasting that China's third-party logistics market will grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 17 percent between 2018 and 2021. From our vantage point, continued economic growth, the e-commerce boom and the trend to outsource one's logistics needs make China a critical part of DPDHL Group's global growth and strategy.

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2019-06-14 08:16:35
<![CDATA[BRI to boost prospects for global growth]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/12/content_37479904.htm The Belt and Road Initiative could play a key role in shoring up the precarious global economic recovery clouded by trade tensions, as it could not only bolster international trade and investment but help improve global governance, experts said on Tuesday.

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Initiative can act as mechanism to offset downside economic pressure

The Belt and Road Initiative could play a key role in shoring up the precarious global economic recovery clouded by trade tensions, as it could not only bolster international trade and investment but help improve global governance, experts said on Tuesday.

"The BRI can bring common benefits to different participants and stakeholders, and therefore can act as an important mechanism offsetting global downside pressure," said Wei Jianguo, a former vice-minister of commerce.

Wei's remarks came after finance ministers and central bank governors from the group of 20 major economies gathered in Japan over the weekend and stressed the downside risks brought by Sino-US trade tensions.

"Global growth appears to be stabilizing, and is generally projected to pick up moderately later this year and into 2020," the G20 officials said in a joint communique, which was published on the website of Japan's Ministry of Finance.

"However, growth remains low and risks remain tilted to the downside. Most importantly, trade and geopolitical tensions have intensified," the communiqu�� said, adding that international trade and investment are still important engines of growth.

"The trade and geopolitical tensions mentioned in the communiqu�� refer to various factors, but mainly trade tensions between the world's two biggest economies," Wei said.

The biggest reason behind Sino-US trade tensions is the lack of mutual trust, Wei said, citing the importance of strengthening global governance via international cooperation, which is expected to enhance mutual trust.

"The BRI has helped to strengthen global governance and could to play a bigger role in the future, considering its continuous efforts to tighten the bond between peoples and encouraging cultural exchanges," Wei said.

Meanwhile, the initiative can help shore up global growth by boosting international trade and investment, said Liu Chunsheng, an associate professor of international trade at the Beijing-based Central University of Finance and Economics.

"As trade tensions sour, economies caught up in these are looking for new partners. This gives the emerging market economies involved in the BRI a great potential in stabilizing international trade and investment, considering their large population and market vacuums," Liu said.

During the January-May period, the value of China's trade in goods with economies taking part in the BRI reached 3.49 trillion yuan ($504.7 billion), up 9 percent year-on-year, faster than the 4.1 percent of China's total foreign trade in goods, according to customs data released on Monday.

"The initiative is helping to unleash that potential, as it has established a platform of information sharing, enabling both participants and non-participants in the initiative to identify, discuss and evaluate investment opportunities in the economies taking part in the BRI," Liu said.

Also, Chinese investments in infrastructure across the participating economies have helped to elevate their economic efficiency, which will bring more international investment, Liu said.

The G20 officials also endorsed the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment as a common aspiration, aiming to maximize the impact of infrastructure on sustainable growth while preserving debt sustainability and integrating environmental and social considerations, according to the communique.

"Infrastructure investment financing is indispensable for the development of emerging markets, while both the funds' recipients and providers should pay close attention to ensuring the induced economic growth could cover the debts," Liu commented.

It would be a "prejudice" against China to say the principles are especially targeted at Chinese investments in economies involved in the BRI, Liu said. "The recipient countries will need to strike that balance wherever they get the investments, and China does not attach any additional conditions, particularly political ones, to the investments."

Chinese companies can pursue the aspired quality infrastructure investment by better understanding and communicating with local markets, experts said.

Alan Wang, partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, a multinational law firm headquartered in London, said both Chinese companies as well as host countries partners are in the process of getting to know each other better to achieve mutual benefit.

As Chinese companies continue to mature with better understanding of local business environments and more efficient commercial viability assessments, Wang expects to see more cooperation and smoother project implementation under the BRI.

Chen Jia contributed to this story.

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2019-06-12 07:39:07
<![CDATA[Toys R Us eyes China expansion over three years]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/12/content_37479903.htm Asian toy retailer Toys R Us aims to open 50 new stores a year in China over the next three years as the nation undergoes a consumption upgrade and more couples have a second child. The expansion plan will make China its biggest market in Asia by 2021, said the company's China head.

"China is the fastest growing Toys R Us market in the group. We do see a lot of future growth in China. I think we can double our stores ... at 400 stores by 2021, when we reach that China will become probably the biggest market in the group," said Nicholas Green, managing director of Toys R Us China.

The new stores, like other Toys R Us chains with an average size of 800 square meters, will mostly be located in first-and second-tier cities.

"The reason is actually very simple, the business is successful, and we want to bring the brand to more cities," said Green.

"China is the world's second-largest toy market and the world's largest toy exporter. The global toy markets have been declining slowly for the past few years but China still sees stable growth," said Chih-yuan Wang, retail research director of Mintel China.

China's toys and games market retail value doubled from $20.06 billion in 2013 to $40.9 billion in 2017, with a high double-digit annual growth in the past few years, according to Euromonitor International, which estimated the market may reach $62.29 billion by 2022.

Along with the expanding children's market in China, Chinese customers showed special interest toward educational toys, such as those teaching languages, writing and mathematics, according to Green.

Traditional toys with educational content always capture Chinese parents' attention, given their high concerns over the academic performance of their children. Apart from construction and preschool developmental toys, modern STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) toys have gained popularity, as they help children to gain advanced knowledge through play, according to a report from Euromonitor.

In response, Toys R Us China is devoting around 25 percent of its entire product range providing a mix of education and toys, which is much higher than in other markets.

Unlike many other retail businesses which have experienced fierce competition from e-commerce, Toys R Us has seen stable and strong performance in its brick-and-mortar stores, which account for a majority of its sales revenue.

As early as 2012, the toy retailer launched online business at Tmall and its own website. It is currently seeking greater cooperation with digital platforms such as WeChat and JD.

Experts said that China's toy market is going to see intensive competition between foreign and domestic brands, and local players offer price advantages, extensive distribution and rich media resources.

"A lot of Chinese companies are making very attractive toys. We buy them because the toy is good and we think it will work here," said Green.

According to Wang, China's toy market still has room to grow among adults and teenagers, and the toy market for young adults has yet to be fully explored.

Toys R Us, which entered the Chinese mainland market in 2006, currently has more than 180 stores across China.

After the New Jersey-based chain filed for bankruptcy in 2017, Toys R Us Asia, running as an independent entity in China, Japan and Southeast Asia, is now controlled by Hong Kong-based Fung Retailing Ltd.