China

All’s good for China in London except for …

It’s the start of day 1o of the Olympics and China leads the medals table in both golds and total, just ahead of the USA. China’s had a very good Games so far, especially in swimming which they haven’t traditionally dominated. China’s swimming success was a huge improvement from previous Games, including in Beijing where the men only won one medal. Sun Yang lived up to expectations, winning the 1500 m freestyle to finish with 4 medals, 2 golds, while Ye Shiwen also picked up 2 golds. In badminton, the great Lin Dan won the single’s title again, repeating his success in 2008.

Unfortunately China failed in one major sport, and that is men’s basketball (the women have reached the first knockout round though they just lost heavily to the USA). Despite having Yi Jianlian and Wang Zhizhi (remember him, former Maverick who played in the NBA before Yao Ming?), China lost all their group games so far and have already been eliminated, with one group game remaining. China are the Asian champions but they’ve been outclassed in all their games, losing by 20 points to Australia and 39 to Brazil.

Everyone knows there’s no Yao, but still, how did it come to this point? It’s the system, says Yao Ming and NiuBBall.com. Anyone who’s a fan of Chinese football will not find this surprising. Basketball players in China apparently are identified at a young age from their build and tests to determine their future height, and then trained in state academies where they play basketball over and over without time for much else, including a proper education. While this may work for other sports like swimming or gymnastics or diving, which mainly comprise of repetitive actions, drilling all the time and practicing nonstop can’t work for basketball and football. Furthermore it’s ridiculous to select players as young kids. Change, as well as more young talent, seems to be coming to the sport’s youth setup in China so hopefully 2016 will be better.

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