Posts Tagged ‘Sport’
A fitting tribute to Gurkhas a reminder of the HK Trailwalker competition which hopefully I might get the chance to compete in and complete myself,
From SCMP: ‘The trail that goes from strength to strength’ 16 October 2011
For many people there is one sporting date in Hong Kong that stands out from the rest. Maybe it reminds them that just outside one of the world’s most populated cities there lies some sprawling, beautiful countryside or maybe the prospect of blistered feet and aching knees is their idea of a good time.
Either way, the Oxfam Trailwalker team challenge, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary when this year’s event starts on November 18, has grown into one of the city’s signature events since its inception in 1981.
A record number of 4,800 people in 1,200 teams will take up the Oxfam Trailwalker’s 30th anniversary challenge next month. They will start at Pak Tam Chung in Sai Kung and finish at Po Leung Kuk Jockey Club Tai Tong Holiday Camp in Yuen Long.
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In the wake of China’s success at the FINA Championships in Shanghai, a number of new stories have come out regarding the Chinese Sport System and the long term care (or lack of it) for retired or not-so-successful athletes. Here are two stories from the SCMP and China Daily that are good updates on what I wrote about the Chinese Sport Schools System.
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I run. I have been running for a long time. But my diminutive stature compared to most of the people my age has never been a major hinderance to my running. I continue to run despite the perceived disadvantage of having to take more steps. In fact, there are many cases where I am faster than those who are taller than me.
What astonished me however is that this can also be applied to an international setting. At just 5 feet and 5 inches, Leonel Manzano would appear to have a distinct disadvantage to all of his taller counterparts. However, this has not slowed down his running or made his results any worse. In fact, he’s beating many of his opponents. True, he has the benefit of physical conditions (a bigger heart and lower consumption of oxygen), but it goes to show that you can never judge a book by its cover. Just because one is small doesn’t mean one is incapable of brilliant things.
During the 2006 bid which was done in 2000, the direct costs was just 1.72 billion, a figure which has now risen to at least 13.7 billion. The revenue from ticket sales, merchandising and sponsorship is expected to be just 700 million, down from 980 million. For the government, and for the taxpayers, this represents as massive 13.8 billion dollar net loss compared with the estimated 730.5 million net loss in the 2006 bid. In fact, if you consider the highest estimated economic benefit derived from the hosting, Hong Kong would have gained a total of 130 million economically. However, considering the high cost of the 2023 bid, a loss of nearly 13 billion dollars is expected for Hong Kong. From a purely economical view, bidding for the 2023 Asian Games is a stupid idea – even according to the government’s own statistics released by the Home Affairs Bureau. And it should be noted that such estimations exclude the cost of building eight new venues (which the government claims is already budgeted for) as well as the athlete’s village (because a decision still needs to be made whether private developers or the government will build them)
For all the “boost the city’s sports development, social cohesion and international status” that such a move would achieve, it is a wasteful use of money and achieves surprisingly little. Think back to the East Asian Games or even the Olympics, sure it was fun not to have to fly to watch any of those events, but only a few sports (diving, table tennis, badminton) are really popular. The rest were watched in half empty stadiums. Hosting large scale sporting events might increase Hong Kong’s standing internationally and as a hub for sports, but does it do anything for the people of Hong Kong? No. We are no more healthy or fit than we were before the 2008 Olympics or the 2010 EAGs.
It is important to increase the stature of sport in Hong Kong. As a amateur athlete myself, I have no qualms about increase the quality or amount of facilities, or even to make them simply more accessible by removing red tape. But at the end of the day, this is a local issue, not an international or even regional problem. Hosting regional games throws money where it isn’t need. A six-week consultation is going to occur up till November 3rd. A decision on whether to file a formal bid to the Olympic Council of Asia will be made by the end of January. Hopefully the HK government will realize what we need are local solutions, not regional showcases.
For IGCSE Media Students, Norbert Elias’s The Civilizing Process comes to mind.
The United States had lost to Brazil, 1-0, in the 2003 Confederations Cup, but when the final whistle blew that night in Lyon, France, the American defender Gregg Berhalter walked off the field with a memento from a tough night.
In his hand, Berhalter carried the jersey he had exchanged with a bucktoothed Brazilian midfielder who would become known worldwide, Ronaldinho.
When Berhalter recalled that night recently, it was with a heavy helping of wistfulness — and not for losing the ball that led to the game’s only goal. A few days after the game, at a hotel in Paris, where Ronaldinho was then the well-known star for Paris St.-Germain, Berhalter sent his dirty clothes out to be cleaned. Into the bag, he absentmindedly tossed the iconic yellow and green Brazil jersey.
“Needless to say, it never came back from the laundry,” Berhalter said with a knowing smile. “I wasn’t too smart.”
The exchanging of jerseys at the end of a soccer match is a longtime ritual that is well established in the sport, even as it has evolved. With each swap — like the ones that take place after games in this World Cup — there is usually a story.
Often the tales are personal, speaking to a player’s standing in the game or marking a chapter in his career.
As for the jerseys themselves, sometimes they are washed, sometimes not. Sometimes they end up being given away, auctioned off, framed for display in a player’s home, boxed up in storage, or — as Berhalter learned — who knows where?
“It’s just a sign of respect,” said Clint Mathis, who scored for the United States in the 2002 World Cup. “You’re out there trying to kick each other and kill each other, but when the game’s said and done, it’s back to being friends.”
In 2008, our televisions, newspapers and conversations were overwhelmed by the Beijing Olympics. Yet while the spotlights in the Bird’s Nest stadium swirled around Liu Xiang and Yao Ming, they failed to highlight the millions who were once their training partners, the millions who gave up all in pursuit of the unattainable, the millions who devoted their lives and lost everyone. Once again, the world ignored the graveyard of aspiring children, the bubble where all contact with the world is lost, the school that will expel you when you are no longer profitable. Let me tell you the stories of a few young people, described by a New York Times reporter, as being “another cog in China’s sports machine”
It’s a machine that begins with the selection of thousands of children by officials most of whom have never participated in the sports themselves. Some are as young as 4 or 5, all of them are younger than you or me, one of them was Xu Jiamin. She was selected for her long legs, short torso and large hands without being given a choice whether to enter or not. Being tall doesn’t mean you are good at volleyball, being flexible doesn’t signal brilliance at gymnastics and being short doesn’t mean you’re good at table tennis and bad at running. I for one fare terribly at table-tennis but excel at running. The selection process ignores many other potential athletes and disregards our freedom of choice.
And yet, the selected throng of 400,000 are dumped into 3,000 sport schools to train seven hours a day. They practice in rooms lit by one low-voltage bulb and sleep in dormitories that reek of urine and sweat. Imagine that you were instructed to be a gymnast at just six. Multiple times each day, you are required to stretch your legs over 2 blocks in the splits. While your legs begin to tremor, your coach walks over, smiles and hands you a timer set at 30 seconds before setting his 70 kg frame on each of your outstretched limbs in turn. The additional weight is just too much to bear and as the seconds tick, the agony wells up inside each of us, tears begin to flow. It’s an inhumane training method, but that’s not all.