China Daily takes a look back at the top 10 Chinese sports stories of 2019
Double trouble for Lippi
Italian soccer guru Marcello Lippi resigned as head coach of Team China for a second time on Nov 14 after a 2-1 loss to Syria left the nation's 2022 World Cup qualifying hopes hanging by a thread. Lippi (pictured) first walked away from the post in January following China's quarterfinal exit at the Asian Cup, but later returned for the start of the 2022 qualifying campaign. His exit underlined an uneventful year for Chinese soccer that has seen a reshuffle of the Chinese Football Association's leadership, the recruitment of naturalized players for the national squad and a successful first 12 months for striker Wu Lei in Spain's La Liga.
Sun protests innocence
Despite winning two golds (200m and 400m freestyle) at the FINA World Championships, Sun Yang's successes in the pool were overshadowed by an alleged violation of doping test rules. Citing the testers' lack of authorization and credentials, Sun (pictured) defended himself from any wrongdoing at a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing on Nov 15. The three-time Olympic champion was cleared of refusing to cooperate with testers in September 2018 by governing body FINA, a ruling which the World Anti-Doping Agency appealed to CAS. A verdict is expected later this month.
Volleyball heroes reign supreme
China's much-loved women's volleyball team (pictured) produced a perfect run of 11 victories at the 13th FIVB Women's World Cup from Sept 14-29 to win the tournament for a fifth time. It was the Chinese women's 10th major international title, including their Olympic and world championship triumphs, and provided a major confidence boost for the defense of their Olympic title in Tokyo this year.
On track for success
足球网上投注China finished with its best medal haul at a World Athletics Championships in 26 years by collecting three gold, three silver and three bronze between Sept 28 and Oct 6 in Doha. There were plenty of other positives on the track too, with sprinter Xie Zhenye (pictured) becoming the first Chinese to crack the 20-second barrier in 200m by clocking 19.88 at a London Diamond League meet on July 21 to smash the previous Asian record by 0.09 sec.
Host's hoopsters flop
足球网上投注China successfully staged the 32-team FIBA Basketball World Cup between Aug 31 and Sept 15, with Spain crowned champion after defeating Argentina 95-75 in the final. However, on the court it proved to be a miserable tournament for the host team－captained by Yi Jianlian (pictured with CBA chairman Yao Ming)－as it failed to reach the knockout stage with just two wins from five group games to lose Asia's only direct qualification spot for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to Iran.
FIFA puts faith in China
Soccer's world governing body FIFA announced on Oct 24 that China would host the inaugural edition of an expanded 24-team Club World Cup in multiple cities in June and July 2021, which FIFA president Gianni Infantino (pictured, center) hailed as a "historic decision". Four months previous, China was chosen to stage the 2023 Asian Cup. Landing two major international soccer events in one year was interpreted as a strong signal that the country's hope of hosting the FIFA World Cup as early as 2030 is achievable.
NBA relationship ruptured
足球网上投注Daryl Morey, general manager of the National Basketball Association's Houston Rockets, infuriated Chinese fans with an Oct 5 tweet which expressed support for violent protesters in Hong Kong. The Chinese Basketball Association condemned his insensitive post and announced it would terminate cooperation with the franchise. The league's stance supporting Morey in the name of protecting "free speech" further escalated the tension, causing multiple broadcasters and sponsors to cancel their NBA deals.
Records tumble at Games
The 7th International Military Sports Council (CISM) Military World Games was held in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province from Oct 18-27. Seven world records and 85 CISM-affiliated records were broken during the 10-day event, which featured over 9,300 athletes from 109 nations. China collected 133 golds, 64 silvers and 42 bronzes to finish top of the medal table.
2022 mascots make debuts
足球网上投注On Sept 17, a giant panda in an ice suit named Bing Dwen Dwen (pictured with schoolchildren) and a lantern-like cartoon kid called Shuey Rhon Rhon were unveiled as mascots for the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games respectively. The cute duo's debuts highlighted a remarkable year of preparations for the Games, with many of the venues nearing completion well ahead of schedule.
Xu boxes clever
足球网上投注Xu Can successfully defended his WBA featherweight title for a second time on Nov 23 with a unanimous decision against American Manny Robles III in California to cap a whirlwind year for the fighter known as "Monster". Xu (pictured right) became China's first WBA champion by dethroning Jesus Rojas of Puerto Rico by unanimous decision in Houston, Texas, in January. Four months later, he retained his belt in his hometown of Fuzhou, Jiangxi province, by defeating Japan's Shun Kubo via technical knockout. The second defense has particularly enhanced Xu's credentials, with his promoter saying the boxing world has now really taken notice.