- Anthony Tao
- 0 Shares
Only 38 more days until opening ceremonies!
Recently we went to Beijing Sports University to visit with marathoner Han Gang, who ran in Athens in 2004 and is one of four finalists competing for three spots on the Chinese team this summer (a decision is expected early next month). Modesty prevents him from talking about his chances—"50 percent, maybe," he says, "though that may be overestimating"—but after posting the second-best time earlier this year, we'll put our money on him.
In our chat Han explained, among other things, why he's not worried about Beijing's air, athletic training in China and why he likes the Phoenix Suns. In his words (translated):
On running: "I was discovered by a track coach after participating in a youth sports tournament in elementary school. In middle school I joined the team and have been running since. Professional for 15 years. [Among the 1,500-meter, 5,000-meter and marathon,] I most enjoy the marathon. It tests your mental strength every time. It's a challenge."
On his training and recent reports of Chinese athletes getting pushed too hard: "I run about 200 km (124 miles) per week. I feel that in China, the training level is not too high—compared to, say, Japan or Korea, anyway. I prefer the non-Chinese way of training, however. Outside the country, in Europe or America, athletes typically use their own funds to hire coaches and set their own schedule. If you're spending your own money, it means you're more independent, and also your desire to compete is higher. It's not like in China, where the pressure comes from the top to force you to practice—you train if they tell you to train, rest if they tell you to rest. This system lags behind. If China's training evolves, I suspect the results will improve very quickly."
On this summer's Olympics: "I haven't thought much about it. China has a lot of responsibility though. The pressure (the organizers) feel is much greater than ours. But come Olympics time, I believe Beijing will hold the most successful Games ever."
On his hobbies: "I enjoy cooking. I only know one dish, but as long as I can eat that well, I'm good. Also, surfing the 'Net, watching TV. Mostly I watch sports because there's no time for much else. NBA, soccer. But not Chinese soccer, mind you. My favorite NBA team is the Suns because when they play it's smooth and lively. Also because of [Steve] Nash. Yao Ming I also like."
On Beijing's air quality: "China's already started taking care of it. Come time, they'll do more. If you look at it now you may not be able to see any effect, but a lot of things—including cars, factories—are going to come to a halt. The odd/even license plates, etc., that'll have an effect. Beijing's air, it's not bad. Better than Neimong (where I'm from), for sure. if you want to see bad air, go there."
MORE GAMES GOSSIP
Top swimmer Ouyang Kunpeng recently tested positive for banned substances, and the Chinese Olympic Committee decided to make an example of her with a lifetime ban.
The IOC sent a letter to the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games telling them to not mix sports and politics, this after a party secretary said at a torch-relay ceremony in Lhasa last week, "We will certainly be able to totally smash the splittist schemes of the Dalai Lama clique."
He's called the Olympic madman for a reason: Sun Dingguo, 30, quit his job and "dropped the chance to get a girlfriend" last year to devote his life and body to the Olympics. Literally. He recently got his 36th Olympic tattoo. And if you think he's the only Olympic madman in China, read this.
"Mutant seaweed" that's "thick as a carpet" has infested Qingdao, the site of Olympic sailing, which could make for some interesting racing tactics. (Through or around the algal infestation, Cap'n?) The city, for its part, has mobilized 10,000 labor forces and more than a thousand vessels to clean up the water, according to Xinhua, and organizers are hoping to eliminate all seaweed within two weeks.
The must-see Olympic video of the summer: Dream Weavers 2008, a documentary about the Beijing Games. It took director Gu Jun seven years to make, starting shortly after China was awarded the Olympics. Among other athletes, the film follows the steps of a young Liu Xiang on his path to a gold medal in the 110-meter hurdles and superstardom.
Torch relay update: Just passed: Wuzhong, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, which has the largest number of Hui people, a Muslim ethnic group. Next up: the ancient city of Yinchuan, nicknamed the "Phoenix City" because, according to legend, a phoenix blessed the region with abundance and turned into a city wall to protect the people from enemy attacks, then nourished the land with its blood.
Brook Lopez had 22 points and 13 rebounds, and the Brooklyn Nets beat Atlanta 91-83 on Saturday to cut the Hawks' lead to 2-1 in the Eastern Conference series.
Six players were suspended and a seventh was fined for their roles in Thursday's Royals-White Sox brawl.
The NBA has fined Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle $25,000 for publicly criticizing the officials after Friday night's Game 3 loss to the Rockets.
Mark Sanchez doesn't seem worried about Tim Tebow's presence on the roster, calling him "another guy to throw while [Sam Bradford] is still recovering."
Five title sponsors of the Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao megafight had to pony up record amounts of money to get in on the action.
A powerful earthquake devastated Nepal on Saturday, killing nearly 1,400, collapsing modern houses and ancient temples and triggering a landslide on Mount Everest.
Olympic gold medalist and reality show star Bruce Jenner said that "for all intents and purposes, I am a woman" in an interview broadcast Friday night.
Mel Kiper and Todd McShay play GM for all 32 NFL teams, alternating mock draft picks for the first three rounds of the 2015 draft.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver expects the NBA to explore rule changes at upcoming meetings that would address rampant use of Hack-a-Shaq strategy that slows games and hurts entertainment value.
There's reality TV, and then there's something real. And Bruce Jenner's announcement Friday that he self-identifies as a transgender woman after years of speculation is one brave declaration.
The NBA says a foul should have been called on Stephen Curry's 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left in regulation Thursday night.
On the final day of the first week of the Dallas Cowboys' offseason program, Greg Hardy and Davon Coleman had to be separated by teammates following an on-field argument, sources said.
If you are a college football coach in America, consider yourself cordially invited to attend Michigan's high school camp this summer.
After receiving the Nancy Lieberman Lifetime Achievement Award in Dallas recently, Tony Romo made a reference to bringing the Cowboys their first Super Bowl since 1995.
LeBron James made this incredible full-court shot look way too easy. Then Dwight Howard matched it -- in style.
Oklahoma State was placed on one-year probation by the NCAA for not following its drug testing policy and allowing a student group to engage in impermissible activities during recruiting visits.
The Jets will explore the possibility of trading up, said general manager Mike Maccagnan -- an acknowledgement that will, no doubt, fuel the Marcus Mariota speculation.
Weather disrupted NASCAR's top series for a second consecutive week when Saturday night's Sprint Cup Series race was postponed because of persistent rain at Richmond International Raceway.
The odds of the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight ending in a draw has been bet down to 8-1 after opening at 22-1.
Tiger Woods announced Friday that he will compete in the upcoming Players Championship, the PGA Tour's flagship event that he won two years ago and missed due to injury last year.
Point guard Tony Parker will play for the San Antonio Spurs in Game 3 on Friday against the Clippers after experiencing tightness in his right Achilles tendon.
Mets ace Matt Harvey kept the Yankees quiet Saturday, scattering five hits and two earned runs over 8 2/3 innings in the Bronx.