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  #241  
Old 4 Weeks Ago
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JAPAN ARE ASIA'S NEW WOMEN'S TEAM CHAMPIONS




It was a tale of two cities for China's He Bingjiao - a winner at the last Asian team championships in the Indian city of Hyderabad in 2016 and a loser in the Malaysian city of Alor Setar in Kedah on Sunday.


In Hyderabad Bingjiao was the toast of the team and clinched the winner in a thrilling final that went down the wire after both teams were tied at 2-2.


Bingjiao clinched the winning point in China's 3-2 win in the 2016 final when she defeated Yui Hashimoto 21-18, 21-12 in the third and deciding singles after Japan had grabbed a 2-0 lead.


It was a repeat of the 2016 final in Alor Setar but it was the opposite for Bingjiao. The Chinese was at the receiving end time and her 21-19, 16-21, 10-21 defeat to Nozomo Okuhara in the second singles handed Japan the title with an unassailable 3-0 lead.


And with that, Japan, a rising women's badminton power in the world, were crowned Asia's new women's team champions in the final of the E-Plus Badminton Asia Team Championships at the Sultan Abdul Halim Stadium on Sunday.

It was sweet revenge for Okuhara and company. The Japanese came into the Asian meet as the top seeds and looked comfortable in all their matches.


Japan won the first singles, first doubles and the second singles - unlike in Hyderabad when Japan surrendered a 2-0 lead to let the title slip from their grasp in a heartbreaking third singles.


However, in Alor Setar on Sunday, it was Bingjiao who was at the receiving end as Nozomi Okuhara gave Japan the winner with a 19-21, 21-16, 21-10 win in 66 minutes to wrest the title from the Chinese.

Japan took the first point with world number two Akane Yamaguchi carving out a 21-16, 12-21, 21-14 win over 2015 junior world champion Chen Yufei in 56 minutes in the first singles.


It was 2-0 up for Japan with Rio Olympics champions Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi easy 21-13, 21-16 winners against Du Yue-Li Yinhui in the first doubles.


Beaten semi-finalists South Korea and Indonesia were awarded the bronze medal. The two together with Japan and China qualified on merit for the Uber Cup Finals.

WOMEN'S TEAM FINAL


RESULTS
JAPAN beat CHINA 3-1
(Japan first)
WS1: Akane Yamaguchi beat Chen Yufei 21-16, 12-21, 21-14
WD1: Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi beat Du Yue-Li Yinhui 21-13, 21-16
WS2: Nozomi Okuhara beat He Bingjiao 19-21, 21-16, 21-10
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  #242  
Old 4 Weeks Ago
1234 1234 is offline
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Simple facts point to these.

China lose in Semifinals of Thomas Cup 2014.
China lose in quarterfinals of Thomas Cup 2016.
So this year 2018 there is such a high chance that China might lose as well.

Then as for Sudirman Cup it is won by Korea and mark that the Sudirman Cup is also out of the grasp of China after they lose their Thomas Cup.

But in 2018 could mark a new beginning. 2018 it will mark a new beginning whereby China is very likely to lose the Uber Cup as well. Japan is very likely to win Uber Cup 2018.

So since 2014 China lose Thomas Cup.
Since 2017 China lose Sudirman Cup.
Since 2018 it could mark China lose Uber Cup as well.

So sad to see this happening too. As a great fan of China badminton I just cannot believe that how bad China badminton has fallen into. So bad that it is beyond repair anymore. Something is very wrong in China badminton. Those old ancient training method is no more working yet no changes made. All the rest of the whole are catching up with China and can win over them already. China however did not chance much and still stick to old methods that will not work. So sad indeed.
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  #243  
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China's massive medal haul at the London Games has once again showcased the country's ability to produce champions through its rigid Soviet-style sports regime, but national pride has been tempered by concerns about the human costs of sporting glory.

Chinese bloggers expressed their disgust last week after a Shanghai newspaper reported that the parents of Olympic diver Wu Minxia had concealed her mother's long battle with breast cancer for fear of disturbing her training.

Wu, 26, who was also shielded from news of her grandparents' deaths, shrugged off the controversy to win both the synchronized and individual three-meter springboard events in London.

"It's not only Chinese athletes who are like this. Parents seldom come to our training base and we are just like a big family who all train together," Wu said after winning the individual title on Sunday.

"There may be distance from our families but the distance doesn't make us feel we are far apart. I chose to be a diver to pursue this goal."

While the fall of Communism in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s [stopped] the command-and-control systems that turned the Soviet Union and East Germany into sporting superpowers, China's "juguo tizhi"—literally 'whole nation system'—remains as entrenched as ever.

Like Wu, the greater majority of China's 396 Olympians have started their sports at tender ages, sacrificed their childhoods for the state and drawn their emotional support from team mates, coaches and officials, in lieu of family members and friends.

The relationship remains strong between the athletes and the state that nurtured them, and fairytale stories abound of Chinese children wrenched from poverty and enriched by success on the global stage.

But the Olympic medals have obscured the more unsavory aspects of the sports regime, which has been blamed for leaving less successful athletes uneducated and ill-equipped to thrive outside the competition venues.

Abuse accusations

It has also drawn criticism from Western coaches who have accused their Chinese counterparts of producing winners through systematic physical abuse.

"You wonder why the Chinese women are so successful? Most of the men are coaches. The women are literally beaten into submission," Johannah Doecke, diving coach at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis in the United States, told Reuters.

"If you said no to anything, you would be chastised, slapped around. It's a brutal system."

Doecke trained one of China's elite divers in Chen Ni, who rose to a provincial grade before migrating to the U.S. at the age of 19.

Doecke describes Chen as someone who was terrified of making a mistake when she first came under her instruction.

"If she made a mistake, she would instantly kowtow and apologize," she said.

Doecke worked with other Chinese coaches who had left their home country and said they would jest that she would need to be forceful to get the best out of Chen.

"As I worked with Chen, I would hear from time to time, 'if you want a good performance out of her, you'll have to beat her'," she said.

China's dominance in sports like table tennis and badminton has seen Western athletes level similar accusations of mistreatment.

Britain's top women table tennis players said China's methods would not be allowed elsewhere.

"It wouldn't be legal in Britain to train as hard as the Chinese," said Joanna Parker, Britain's top female player, last week.

Her teammate Kelly Sibley told the Olympic news service: "It's how they (Chinese coaches) treat them (Chinese trainee players) as well.

"We were playing a couple of years ago in a centre in Shanghai. Someone was playing and the coach just went up and kicked him in the side."

Chinese officials have bristled at the criticism.

"You have to train hard. Why does the West think like this?" Shi Zhihao, the male head of China's women's table tennis team, said angrily in response.

"China is very free, if you want you can do it, and if you don't want to do it you don't have to."

Chen declined to comment on whether she had been subject to physical discipline by her Chinese coaches, but defended it as being misunderstood.

"The coaches are like athletes' parents," she said in comments emailed to Reuters.

"Most of the time, coaches care about their divers even more than their own children.

"Diving is a dangerous sport, things could change in a second ... thus, as parents they have to do anything that force their children to do things safely.

"Sometimes it ends up (that they) hit their divers, but I know that it will more hurt inside of coaches every time when they had to hit their divers."

Cash bonuses

The athletes who bring China Olympic glory stand to receive grateful thanks from the state, with cash bonuses from China's national sports ministry and from lower levels of government for bringing prestige to their home towns and provinces.

Less successful athletes have much less to fall back on and state media have reported a number of cases of retired national champions struggling with long-term injuries and poverty.

Chinese athletes in London have, nonetheless, been largely unreserved in their praise of their coaches and the grueling training systems that have taken the delegation to more than 35 gold medals in London.

However, Chinese swimmer Lu Ying, who won silver in the women's 100 meters butterfly in London, spoke out against the team's domestic training system as being all work and no play.

"In China we're used to study, study and train, train and then rest," Lu, who has done part of her training in Australia since 2008, said through an interpreter earlier this week.

"I think our way of thinking has many limits. In Australia I've been invited to barbecues with my teammates - that would never happen in China."

China's top badminton player Lin Dan, who defended his men's singles gold at London, also broke ranks with his team amid a match-throwing scandal last week that claimed two of his teammates among eight players disqualified from the tournament.

The four women's doubles pairs, including China's world champions Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli, were expelled for deliberately playing to lose in a bid to improve their position in the draw for the knockout rounds.

Lin blamed the world governing body for instituting a round-robin format for the Olympic tournament that was ripe for manipulation, but said the disqualified players' tactics had brought a "negative" impact on the sport.

All costs

Chinese bloggers linked that scandal to the country's pursuit of Olympic medals at all costs and have criticized the system for putting too much pressure on Olympians to succeed.

"The whole-nation system is disastrous," wrote one user on China's Twitter-like microblogging service Sina Weibo.

"The budding young talents are shut up in closed training schools from a young age and apart from their own events, almost have no other life skills."

Despite the criticism, China's Communist Party leaders rely on the system to produce champions who can puff up national pride, and are unlikely to tinker with it, according to Xu Guoqi, a professor at the University of Hong Kong and an expert in Chinese sports.

"As long as the Chinese are not confident enough of themselves in the world, as long as the regime has a legitimacy problem, it will continue its 'juguo tizhi'," he said in comments emailed to Reuters.

"Some people might criticize the system, but imagine the pressure and attacks on athletes and the regime if China fails to do well in the Games."
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  #244  
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Tang Zixuan is five years old, pixie-faced with callused palms. She knows why she will succeed at the sport of diving, just like her hometown heroine Liu Huixia, who will be competing in Rio. “I enjoy eating bitterness,” Tang chirps in her little-girl voice, using a Chinese expression for the ability to endure suffering. Next to her, another diving prodigy at the Huangshi state sports school in central China’s Hubei province interrupts. “I like eating bitterness, too,” she says. “I can do everything by myself.” Yet another pair of five-year-old girls show off their blisters and calluses. Tiny biceps bulge.

The future of China’s Olympic juggernaut diving squad depends on the dedication of undersized athletes like Tang. Cultivated by the state from the moment they are barely out of diapers, these children are funneled into government academies charged with one task: fashioning them into aquatic contortionists who will bring glory to the People’s Republic. From winning just five gold medals at the 1988 Seoul Games, China claimed 51 in Beijing two decades later, the biggest haul of any nation at those Games. Four years ago in London, the Chinese diving team captured six of eight diving gold medals on offer.

In Rio, China’s 13-person squad could well sweep every diving gold. (Hubei province’s Liu did her part Tuesday, winning gold in the synchronized 10 m platform diving event with partner Chen Ruolin.) Such domination of a single sport is surpassed only by China’s own monopoly over table tennis and badminton, in which Chinese athletes captured every single 2012 Olympic gold. This supremacy is a source of pride for a nation still sensitive about how foreign powers once carved-it up. “An athlete without a sense of patriotism can’t go too far,” says Zhu Qingmin, the director of Hubei province’s swimming and diving administration.

The sustained success of the diving team comes as China has softened aspects of its state-run, Soviet-style sports system. The State General Administration of Sport once recruited tens of thousands of children for the sporting cause, no matter what sacrifices were required. At a time of famine and poverty, rural parents saw government-run sports academies, with their well-stocked canteens, as a refuge. But China’s basic needs were met more than a generation ago. And because of the one-child family-planning policy, the nation teems with coddled only children. “In the past, families had more than one child so if the state could raise one kid, parents would be very happy,” says Yao Junying, a gymnastics coach at Huangshi sports school. “But now, most families have just one child so they are reluctant to give their kid over to us completely.” After all, what parent wants their child to grow up like Zou Chunlan, a champion Chinese weightlifter who famously ended up working as a public bathroom attendant because she could barely read? “In the past, if you were a good athlete, you didn’t have to take academic exams,” says Yu Lianming, the coach who scouted Olympic diver Liu. “The old athletes ignored their studies.”

At Huangshi, one of thousands of cogs in the nation’s athletic assembly line where coach Yu now works, most children no longer board at the school. No longer do child athletes have to spend every waking moment pursuing physical perfection. Instead, students live at home and attend academic classes. After normal school is done, the kids come to Huangshi to sweat it out in the 104˚ F (40˚ C) degree heat of the academy’s non-air conditioned gym. Grandparents hover, water bottles, cold towels and smartphone games at the ready. Yu’s husband weaves among the diving students with a long red stick poised behind his back but the kids don’t seem concerned about the threat of corporal punishment. One four-year-old boy in underpants and singlet spends an hour wailing and calling for his mother. She shakes her head from the sidelines. “I don’t expect him to be a national champion,” Tong Yanli says of her bawling son, whose breath emerges in ragged hiccups as he does his stomach crunches. “I just want him to have good health and become a tough boy instead of a spoiled one.”

But if most of the families have little expectation of Olympic splendor, the school administrators feel ever more pressure in an era of budget cutbacks. In recent years, state sports czars have begun paying attention to the nation’s overall fitness—childhood obesity is on the rise—as opposed to lavishing most funding on the creation of world champions. In the race to claim a smaller pool of government money, Huangshi officials hope the school will profit from its connection to Liu, who is Hubei’s sole representative on the Chinese Olympic diving squad. The accounting is clear: if Liu wins gold in Rio, everyone who had a hand in her success will receive cash from state sport coffers. Huangshi needs the money. The school, which proudly counts Liu as an alumnus, doesn’t even have a pool or diving board for its diving program. Instead, the kids must plunge into foam mattresses and spend weekends commuting to a faraway pool.

Liu, it turns out, never actually attended Huangshi. Instead, the school’s link to the world-champion diver is through Yu, Liu’s old coach. “If Liu Huixia wins this time, I can ask the officials to install a diving board for me,” Yu says. She and her adult daughter, a coach and former elite diver who never quite made it to the Olympic level, have even greater ambitions. “We could open a private diving club,” says Yu, “and use Liu Huixia’s name to promote it.” In the U.S., the land of the Nick Bollettieri tennis academy and Karolyi gymnastics camp, such a business plan sounds natural. But in state-run China, it’s only recently that sports legends have begun to open up their own academies for sports like gymnastics, fencing and snooker.

One step up the state athletic ladder from Huangshi is the $160 million Hubei Olympic Sports Center in provincial capital Wuhan, where there’s little sign of any budgetary pressure. The complex comes complete with its own food-sourcing system, lest athletes ingest steroid-tainted meat that could lead to failed drug tests. Kids are allowed time on their smartphones; there’s WiFi. Still, even at this breeding ground of champion divers, officials fret about the eight-year gap between Liu’s 2013 world championship performance and the last Hubei diver to also rank No. 1. Provincial swimming and diving director Zhu is skeptical that the new government initiative to bring sports to the masses will ensure China future Olympic glory. “In Japan and Britain, people’s health is good but their competitive sports are only so-so,” he says. “It’s hard to say whether we can keep our top status in competitive sports.”

Of course, the U.S., which won the most gold medals of any country at London 2012, is built on just such a grassroots system. Programs like Little League baseball, youth soccer and tiny tots gymnastics are largely for fun and relatively low-stakes competition, not for the creation of a few hundred champions who labor for the state. But it’s hard for Chinese sports officials to pivot completely to a new system. At the Hubei pool, a 10 m long banner hangs on the wall, reminding everyone of the provincial team’s eight-year dry spell. Endure hardship, revive the Hubei diving team, it reads. At the entrance of the sports complex looms a giant poster of Chairman Mao Zedong, who birthed the state sports system to prove the strength of his new People’s Republic.

Back in the 1980s, Zhu toiled as a coach for the socialist state. His salary? The equivalent of $6 a month in today’s money. Current diving royalty enjoy far richer lives. The state may claim a chunk of athletes’ endorsement contracts in return for years of government-funded training. But diving gold medalists have celebrity status. One such retired diver regularly stars on lucrative reality TV shows. Another married the former Hong Kong Financial Secretary, more than a quarter century her senior. Still another wed the grandson of a Hong Kong tycoon.

Still, the life of a Chinese athlete remains steeped in sacrifice. Wan Shenghong, the head coach of the Hubei diving team and herself a veteran of the national team, suffers from chronically bloodshot eyes, a hazard of years of plunging into pools. Damaged eyesight is common among Chinese divers. In late July, as Liu prepared for the Rio Games at an Olympic training base in southern China, she fell ill with sunstroke and suffered a shoulder injury. Everyone, though, expected her to persevere. A few years ago, when Liu was preparing for a competition, her grandmother died. Her family kept the news from the young diver lest it disturb her training. At the London Olympics, it was only after another diver, Wu Minxia, won yet another gold that her father admitted to her that her grandparents had died and that her mother had struggled for years with cancer. On Sunday in Rio, Wu, 30, and her partner Shi Tingmao won gold in the 3m synchronized springboard event. Wu now ranks as the most decorated female diver in Olympic history.

Feng Ailing is the grandmother of five-year-old Tang, who is the brightest prospect at the Huangshi sports school. Tang, with her bowl cut and dancing eyes, is off to Wuhan soon to train at the provincial diving center. If she succeeds, she may become a stranger to her family. One Hubei diver now on the national diving team admits that she no longer gets to see her parents even once a year. But Tang’s grandmother thinks such distance is worth it. “If you truly support your child,” she says, cradling her granddaughter, “not telling her [about the death of a family member] so she can focus on training is the right thing to do. I’m prepared.” As an adult, she may be. But is this little girl, even if she can eat so much bitterness?
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