Saturday, January 22, 2011

Scribes to honor Azkals, Asiad gold medalists

Nonito Donaire pic by McBride61Image via Wikipedia
MANILA — Asian Games gold medalists Rey Saludar, Biboy Rivera and Dennis Orcullo and 2010 World 9-Ball king Francisco “Django” Bustamante will receive the “Athlete of the Year” title in the 2010 Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Annual Awards Night on March 5 at the historic Manila Hotel.
Saludar, Rivera and Orcullo saved the face of the 284-man Philippine delegation in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China by bringing home three gold medals. Bustamante meanwhile, finally nailed the title that has long eluded him when he won the World 9-Ball Championship in Doha, Qatar.
Also to be conferred with the prestigious awards are the Philippine men’s football team, popularly known as Azkals, following their run in the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup where it made the semifinals for the first time.
The Philippine men’s poomsae team which won the gold medal in the 5th WTF World Poomsae Championship in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and former world flyweight champion Nonito Donaire Jr., who was unbeaten in three fights last year will be bestowed with the fitting accolade.
Saranggani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, who made 2010 memorable when he successfully defended his WBO welterweight belt against Joshua Clottey, and then claiming a record eight world championship by battering Mexican Antonio Margarito for the WBC super welterweight title, will be also cited.

Flame of Asian Games comes to Kostanay

KOSTANAY. January 20. KAZINFORM /Peter Plakhotnikov/ The Flame of the Asian Games travels across Kostanay. This city became the ninth city of 16 to welcome the Flame of the Asian Games.

The Flame arrived in Kostanay yesterday evening and today in the afternoon it has traveled across Kostanay. The first stage of the relay started in Kostanay City-Center. 60 torch bearers are involved in the relay.

The Flame of the Asian Games had been burning from 1:30 pm for two hours in the City-Center. A concert at the Sports Palace was final event that completed the relay program in the city. Afterwards the Flame will travel to Petropavlovsk

Canton has can-do: Vibrant culture and shopping found in today's Guangzhou

Liwan is a great place to pick up antiques. Photo: Chen Jieying

Last year was an unforgettable one for Guangzhou. The successful hosting of the 16th Asian Games and Asian Para Games increased the city's profile around the continent, if not the world, while the iconic new Canton Tower opened and was an enduring image of both the opening and closing ceremonies.
But 2011 offers fresh challenges for the capital of Guangdong Province – can it build on the legacy of the Games and become the world-hub it so wants to be? Let us take a cultural and commercial look at the city.
Art zones and bar streets
Guangzhou is not known as one of China's hipper cities. It lacks both the glamour of Shanghai and Beijing's cultural depth, and although not as hectic as nearby Hong Kong, it isn't nearly as relaxed a place as Chengdu or Kunming – but any suggestion that the City of Rams is a cultural desert is wide of the mark. Iconic new buildings such as Zaha Hadid's Guangzhou Opera House are part of an official drive to promote Guangdong's capital as a more cosmopolitan, creative place, but really this is just official recognition of something that's been happening on a smaller scale for quite some time.
One obvious example of a cooler Canton can be seen in the evolution of the city's nightlife. Small, stylish restaurants have started to appear in its backstreet and converted houses, and bars and coffee shops are blooming. An increasing number of such places are giving people the option to eat, drink and be merry in the open air.
Even better for Guangzhou's creative credentials is the fact that a number of local nightspots are actively promoting live music – and not the kind that involves cover bands playing "Hotel California." Tianhe's C:Union and its younger sibling T:Union, which is located inside Guangzhou's Sculpture Park, are known for an eclectic and ever-changing roster of live acts, and they are not alone. Venues 191 Space and Tekkwunn Livehouse in downtown Guangzhou, and Iron Age Space down at Panyu's University City, are luring more independent and international acts to South China, as well as providing a home for an increasingly diverse and multicultural group of locally based performers. Be it European electro-pop or Chinese metal, Cantonese hip-hop or Kazakh folk, musicians are not short of places to play, nor punters keen to listen to them.

Shangxia Jiu Lu aka "Up-Down" 9 Road. Photo: Chen Jieying
In some cases, these venues offer much more than music. Ping Pong, for example, tucked discreetly off a side-street near the Xinghai Conservatory, is a charming bar in its own right, and also known for its contemporary art life. It stages all sorts of exhibitions and performances, and last year launched the Ping Pong China-Europe Centre for Performance Art, which is based at the 1850 Creative Zone down in Fangcun, itself one of a number of new spaces for the arts being carved out of Guangzhou's post-industrial hinterland.
One of the prototypes for this mode of creative rebirth is Loft 345. Evolving out of an even more rough-and-ready space called Park 19, the Loft has it all: cheap booze, dodgy toilets, a cluster of artists-in-residence, and a constant trickle of curious visitors, who venture into the interior of the otherwise-nondescript building it inhabits in search of something a bit different.
The Loft was one of the first of its kind in Guangzhou, but the idea of turning former factories into creative spaces has reached a climax of sorts at Redtory. Originally a canning factory near the Pearl River in Yuancun, Redtory is now an art district, taking Beijing's 798 as its template and carefully reproducing what every edgy art zone in contemporary China needs. Obscure location?
Check. Disused industrial buildings reincarnated as cavernous galleries? Check. Assorted socialist realist sculptures? Check. Galleries with names like "Iron Curtain," or simply "916"? Once again, check.
But however consciously it has mimicked 798 – or what 798 has become – Redtory still has some charm of its own. For a former industrial area, it's surprisingly green in places, and has the kind of  chilled-out atmosphere not always easy to come by in crowded Guangzhou. It also attracts a lively mix, from footballers and fencers who come to take advantage of its sports facilities, to the camera-toting couples and families who photograph each other draped against an "arty" backdrop. Most encouragingly, early film screenings, events and exhibitions suggest that Redtory has the potential to become something very interesting in future.
And if this idea of the arts doesn't grab you, it doesn't matter. Today's Guangzhou has plenty of alternatives, be it the canal-crossed, quintessentially Cantonese artists' colony of Xiaozhou Village, or internationally recognized institutions like the Guangdong Museum of Art and Guangdong Modern Dance Company. But more intriguing – and perhaps more truly representative of Guangzhou – are smaller, more independent entities like Vitamin Creative Space and the Libreria Borges Institute for Contemporary Art. Whether it's hosting a mini film festival or supporting Chinese translations of French philosophy, both have been doing their own thing for years. The wider art-world may have started to pay attention to what's been going on in the city, but for many Guangzhou-based artists it makes little difference – they'll keep on creating, whether anyone else is fortunate enough to notice or not.

Redtory adds new colour to Guangzhou's culture. Photo: Chen Jieying

No shortage for shoppers
The well-worn phrase "shop till you drop" was made for Guangzhou, perhaps explaining why so many tasty eateries can be found on and around the busy high streets. The problem is knowing how to shop clever. Guangzhou caters to every taste, from high-end designer gear to cheerful tat. Best of all, even for the non-shopper, there is much to enjoy in the city's markets, malls and streets.
Take Yide Lu as a classic example. Situated close to the Pearl River and Haizhu Square, it is a great place to browse, bargain and finally buy, whatever age you are. The beauty of Yide Lu is that One Link is just one of the shopping options, with even seemingly basic frontages masking huge shopping spaces in behind. This is a place where fortune favours the brave. Just dive in and enjoy the vast array of toys, tricks, decorations, scarves and heaven-knows-what else on offer at any particular time.
Nearby, there are a couple of interesting places to seek sanctuary, notably the impressive Stone Church on Yide Lu itself. For those needing a different sort of spiritual revival, opt for the beer garden of the 1920 bar beside the Pearl River, where weary shoppers can be found in the early evening surrounded by huge plastic bags full of their many purchases, sipping on a hard-earned happy hour cocktail.
If Yide Lu is tat-tastic, Kangwang Lu is the place for antiques, pearls and jade. The old face of this part of Liwan District has been changed, although thankfully not completely, with large shopping malls replacing simple street stalls in recent years.
Liwan Plaza itself is a remarkable shopping outlet with floor upon floor selling pearls. Across the road, there is a similarly bewildering array of stalls selling jade. Whichever jewel you are interested in buying, it is advisable to have some knowledge about how to identify the quality of the goods on offer because, unsurprisingly, everyone seems to promise theirs are the very best – but bargains are available if you have the patience and the know-how to find them.
Old Guangzhou characteristics are clearly visible in the narrow passages that snake around the jade market and it is never a hardship to pass a couple of hours just following your nose and seeing what is on offer. The hassle so prevalent in many parts of Asian markets, and elsewhere around the world, is joyfully absent, as are the tour buses found in similar parts of Shanghai, Beijing and Xi'an.
Find the square with the antique stalls and there is one of Guangzhou's hidden treasures. The Tibetan shopfront is small and simple, often featuring a rug and a glass jewelry case. But the real pleasure comes when being taken around the corner, through a door, up the stairs and into an Aladdin's Cave full of wonderful furniture, rugs, prints and ornaments. The friendly owners are more than happy to let you browse at your leisure and there is never any hard sell.
Teem Mall and China Plaza are just two of many offering a massive variety of stores, but the adventurous shopper need not restrict themselves to inside the malls. Both are surrounded by interesting alternatives to part with your hard earned cash.
Throw in the Haiyin cloth market, where you can get clothes made-to-measure, the chaotic but entertaining sprawl around the old train station, the huge leather wholesale markets on Jiefang Beilu, and the ever-popular Beijing Lu, and the options really are limitless.


NEP Visions lands Asian Games deal

Outside broadcast suite of trucks and satellit...Image via Wikipedia

Outside broadcast company NEP Visions has embarked on one of its most ambitious projects to date, after securing a $1m (£636,000) deal to supply equipment and technical crew for the seventh Asian Winter Games later this month.
The Staines-based outfit will provide flypack OB systems for six venues in Kazakhstan, and projects manager Tim Allsop said the eight-day event was stretching the firm’s resources.
“We’ve had to dive into the hire market to help with cross-hiring of cameras,” he said.
As well as laying 75km of fibre and Triax cable, Visions will supply more than 100 camera channels with a mixture of Sony 1500 and 3300 HD cameras and Philips HD cameras, 56 large lenses, 28 EVS servers and 36 HDCAM video recorders.
“The majority of our equipment is tied up on football contracts,” Allsop continued. “We can source vision mixers and monitor stacks from our mother firm in the US, but it’s the high-ticket items we don’t have lying around for one-off projects.
“We only released about 16 of our own cameras and we sourced the rest from the UK hire market and abroad.”
Allsop said that NEP Visions would plough 40% of the $1m generated by the event back into the UK hire market.

Boxing body chosen NSA of the Year

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Rey Saludar
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MANILA, Philippines - Sustaining its remarkable performance in the 25th Southeast Asian Games, the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) delivered the big punches for Philippine sports in year 2010.
Making up for a disappointing bronze medal finish in Laos SEAG in 2009, Rey Saludar pulled off a stirring victory over a fancied hometown bet to bag the gold medal in the 52kg (flyweight) division in the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.
A heavy underdog, the 23-year-old Saludar bucked the odds and outpunched the fancied Yong Chang, 13-11, to snatch the gold right under the nose of a huge stunned crowd at the Foshan gymnasium.
Coupled with the silver medal bagged by Annie Albania (women’s flyweight) and a bronze in the men’s 49 kg (light-flyweight) courtesy of another Saludar, Victorio, the younger brother of Rey, ABAP capped its Asiad campaign with a 1-1-1 total output for the best medal production by any of the sports associations in the 284-strong Philippine delegation.
For its continued commitment to excellence as demonstrated by another remarkable success in the ring, ABAP will be conferred with the National Sports Association (NSA) of the Year award by the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) in its annual Awards Night set March 5 at the Manila Hotel.
For ABAP, the honor bestowed by the country’s oldest media organization composed of daily broadsheets and tabloids, is the second in the last four years since being recognized with the same title in 2006, although the very first one since the group of chairman Manny V. Pangilinan and president Ricky Vargas took over the association in 2009.
Previous winners of the coveted plum include the Philippine Taekwondo Association (2004), Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (2005), Philippine Aquatics Sports Association (2007), the Philippine Wushu Federation (2008) and the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (2009).
Responsible for one of three gold medals the country won in the Asiad, Saludar was also chosen by the PSA as its Athlete of the Year recipient during the awards gala also presented by Accel, a distinction he shares with fellow gold winner Biboy Rivera (bowling) and Dennis Orcullo (billiards), together with pool great Francisco “Django” Bustamante.
ABAP hopes to ride the crest of its success now that the build-up for its ultimate target – the Olympics – goes full blast this 2011 through a major qualifying meet to be held in Azerbaijan this September.
As testimony that it’s leaving no stones unturned in its quest to give the country a historic first ever Olympic gold, ABAP launched its “Suntok Ginto” program aimed at not only tapping corporate sponsors to help the cause of the national team, but reach out to every Filipino as well through their modest P1 donation.
“Our sight is in our long term goal and our battlecry is `Suntok Ginto’ Para sa Olympics,” said Vargas.
Apart from the Asiad, 2010 also saw the Saludar brothers pocketed a gold medal each in the 31st Tammer Cup in Finland where the country emerged as the overall champion. Victorio was named as the Best Fighter of the Tournament.
The Filipino pugs also outdueled regional rival Thailand for the overall championship of the first MVP Cup International Boxing Friendship Cup staged in the country, nailing a total of eight gold medals courtesy of Albania, Josie Gabuco, Alice Kate Aparri, Nesty Petecio, Analiza Cruz, Charly Suarez, Joegin Ladon and Delfin Boholst.
Likewise, a couple of bronze medals were brought home from tough international competitions such as the World Women’s Boxing Championship, World Youth Championship, King’s Cup and China Open.

Maken wants India to perform better at London Olympics

2012 Summer OlympicsImage via Wikipedia
New Delhi, Jan 20 (IANS) Sports minister Ajay Maken Thursday said his top priority would be to see India better its performance in the 2012 London Olympics and has asked his officials to make a blueprint for the athletes' preparation.
The government earmarked a whopping Rs.678 crore for the athletes' training for the two major events Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games last year and Maken said the momentum should be maintained in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics.

'We got good results because the government spent a lot of money on training and exposure of the athletes. We got foreign coaches. All of that led to the betterment of sports and that must continue.'

Maken said he is keen to see India win more than three medals they bagged in the Beijing Olympics.

'The target will be the 2012 Olympics. We would want maximum athletes to qualify for London. We need to get as many medals as we can and maintain the momentum,' he said.

'I have spoken to the secretaries and very soon we will be ready with the full-fledged plan for the Olympics' preparation.'

'The challenge will be to improve our sports and move ahead. I would want to correct the wrong steps taken in the past. We can't linger on,' he added.

Maken lauded India's improved performance in the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games last year but asserted that the country needs to do a lot more to become a top sporting nation.

'India had a good last year in sports. Our performance in the two events was historic. But we cannot be satisfied with this.'

On sports infrastructure, Maken said: 'We have built the infrastructure and we will soon be ready with the policy on how to maintain it. If weddings and functions take place in the stadiums, the purpose of building these stadiums will be defeated. We will make a policy and try to get it cleared by the cabinet.'


Asian Games Quarter Finals Tickets

DOHA, QATAR - FEBRUARY 24:  Al Zori (R) of Al ...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
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Flame of Asian Games arrived in Atyrau

ATYRAU. January 17. KAZINFORM /Andrey Sokolov/ The Flame of the VII Asian Winter Games has arrived in Atyrau from Aktau late in the evening on Sunday.

Vice Akim of Atyrau oblast Serik Amangaliyev welcomed the keepers of the flame and representatives of the relay directorate.

Deputy head of the Directorate of the Asian Games' Torch Relay Sarsen Kuranbek informed that new records were accepted in all cities where the flame was carried.

"Heads of the regions which we have visited stated that no event gathered so many people before. It is important for us. This suggests that the Asian Games stir interest of Kazakhstani people", S Kuranbek said.

Today 60 torchbearers are to carry the flame through the city. The best athletes of the region, honored coaches, veterans of sport and representatives of creative intelligentsia are among them.

Our men finally land a medal in Abu Dhabi

GUANGZHOU, CHINA - NOVEMBER 25: Kensuke Nagai ...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
KUALA LUMPUR: The men’s trios, led by Aaron Kong, blazed the lanes to win the gold medal for Malaysia in the Asian Bowling Championships in Abu Dhabi yesterday.
But Malaysia missed striking a double by just 30 pins as the women’s trios were earlier beaten to the gold medal by heavy favourites South Korea.
In the men’s competition, Aaron together with Mohd Syafiq Ridhwan and Mohd Nur Aiman took the lead from the first game to finish with a total of 3,989. The United Arab Emirates’ trios won the silver and bronze medals.
It was the first medal won by the Malaysian men’s bowlers in the championships after drawing blanks in the singles and doubles events. For the women, it was the third silver medal in as many events thus far.
While the seniors in the men’s team gave sizzling performances, the three juniors – Aris Ardila Santosoh, Yusuf Abdul Raof and Kang Bo Long – settled for 25th spot on 3,462 and it underlined the fact that they still have some catching up to do.
Chief coach Holloway Cheah was proud of the achievement of the trio, anchored by Aaron.
“Aaron’s speciality is his ability to rise to the occasion in a major events like this. He did well to keep the team together from the start,” he said.
“South Korea are represented by all the members of their Asian Games gold medal winning team but they settled for fourth and fifth positions.”
Holloway was also pleased that the women’s trios of Zatil Iman Abdul Ghani, Siti Shazwani Ahmad Suhaimi and Jacqueline Sijore kept up their momentum to give Malaysia another silver medal.
They chalked up a total of 3,821 while the Koreans, powered by Asian Games gold medallist Son Yun-hee, emerged as the winners on 3,851.
The other Malaysia trio of Dayang Khairuniza Dhiyana, Siti Safiyah Amirah and Hee Kar Yen finished fifth on 3,659.
On Malaysia’s chances in the team events today, Holloway said that the women, with the bulk from the back-up team, had the better chance.
“The women showed that they have the depth and we hope that they will keep their challenge going. It will be tougher for the men because the juniors in the team still need to work on their game,” he said.

Afghanistan national women’s cricket team all set to take on the Asian women in Twenty20

  • Afghanistan national women’s cricket team all set to take on the Asian women in Twenty20
Afghanistan national women’s cricket team all set to take on the Asian women in Twenty20
The Afghan Women’s cricket team has vowed to give a tough time to the rest of the teams from Asia when they meet in a Twenty20 tournament, set to begin in Kuwait from February.
The team is still going through its initial phase of formulation and the Afghan Cricket Board (ACB) hopes that the team will be ready by the end of this month, before departing for Kuwait.
This is the first time in 30 years that a women’s team from the war-ravaged country will feature in any event. Under the rule of the Taliban, women were forbidden to take part in any sport. The Taliban had also banned men from playing many sports that included cricket as well.
Even after the ouster of the Taliban in an invasion led by the United States of America (USA) in 2001, women still face difficulty in going out of their homes to participate in sporting events. Under the new regime of Hamid Karzai, women have been allowed to practice in locations which have been banned for men.
The national women’s team currently practices in a ground which is surrounded by high walls with barbed wires at the top so that men would not be able to enter the facility. Here, the Afghan girls freely practice without worrying about men staring at them.
However, due to the traditional customs of the country, many families don’t permit their women to go out of their houses and many women choose to stay indoors by their own will.
Cricket has been gaining interest in Afghanistan over the past years. The men’s cricket team has recently tasted feats of glory by winning the ICC Intercontinental Cup in December, 2010 and defeating favourites Pakistan in the semifinal of the Asian games in China.
Women, on the other hand, still have to prove their mettle and the T20 tournament in Kuwait seems like a perfect opportunity for them to show the world what they’ve got.
The team is led by 22-year-old Diana Barakzai, who happens to be a fast-bowler. The skipper has high hopes from her team and believes that the girls are in a better shape than when they first joined the national team. “In the past they didn’t know bat from ball but now they’re good. They have families with them and they support them,” she said.
ACB’s development manager for women’s cricket, Mohammad Naeem, hopes to raise the standard of the team and build them into an outfit to reckon with. Talking to the media, he said, “I want all our sporting teams to be champions, I want all of them to have achievements for the poor Afghan nation, which has suffered more than 30 years of war.”
Cricket in Afghanistan came from the neighbouring Pakistan when many refugees returned home after the end of Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Later, after the Taliban, the Afghan government hired the services of former cricketers from Pakistan to lift the standard of the game. Currently, Pakistan’s former wicketkeeper/captain Rashid Latif is the head coach of the men’s team.

The Look Company Prepares for the 2011 Canada Games

The Look Company Prepares for the 2011 Canada Games

The Canada Games are back and set to kick off in Halifax, Nova Scotia with the Winter Games on February 11, 2011. The Look Company has the privilege of working with the Canada Games as they were awarded a 10 year partnership agreement from The Canada Games Council (CGC) in 2009 to produce a seamless branding, event Look for the on-going Canada Games.
CGC selected The Look Company for their expertise and proven track record on a global scale for producing and enhancing the “Look of the Games”. For 2011, TLC will be outfitting The City of Halifax and 13 different indoor and outdoor venues in and around the Halifax region with a large magnitude of indoor and outdoor visual communications graphics including fabric banners, fence fabric, flag & banner poles, gantry treatments, on-camera media treatments and custom stadium treatments.
“In 2009, we had a great experience in PEI providing the Summer Games with custom Look fabrics and Look-ware hardware solutions. We are thrilled to be back in Atlantic Canada for the 2011 Winter Games early in the New Year of 2011.” Say’s Scott Anderson, President and COO of The Look Company North America. “It’s an event that we look forward to biennially that showcases Canada’s next generation of national, international and Olympic athletes from coast-to-coast. We couldn’t be more pleased to be a proud sponsor & supplier of the Canada Games.”
The Look Company is a Canadian based company and has produced the “Look of the Games” for almost every major international sporting event world-wide including the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, FIFA, ATP, WTA and more recently the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. For more information go to

Ritu axed, Nary re-appointed captain

Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) axed Ritu Kanaujiya, who captained the national women’s cricket team in last two events and re-appointed Nary Thapa.
Nary Thapa has been reappointed national captain.
Ritu and three other national cricketers from the Asian Games squad did not find space in 18-member squad for the ACC Women’s Twenty20 Championship to be held in Kuwait from February 18 to 25.
Melina Rayamajhi, Binu Buda Magar and Maya Rawat were also axed from the national team.
Nary, who had captained Nepal in past, was relieved of captaincy on discipline ground for the ACC Women’s Twenty20 in 2009 and Asian Games.
“The performance in Asian Games was far below our expectations,” chief selection Bijaya Sharma said while announcing the team. “Nary has been re-appointed captain in view of her captaincy during the ACC U-19 which we won.”
Sharma also said that the decision to re-appoint Nary was taken considering improvements she had shown in discipline, game and captaincy.
Meanwhile, CAN informed that the team will travel to Pakistan for four to five matches against Pakistan’s national women’s team in Lahore. Pakistan is the winner of the Asian Games gold.
CAN will pick the final 14 after the completion of the closed-camp training beginning January 23.
The squad: Nary Thapa (captain), Rubina Chhetri (vice-captain), Manisha Rawal, Madhu Thapa, Sita Rana Magar, Khina Thapa Magar, Indu Verma, Janaki Bhatta, Rashmi Sharma, Sarita Magar, Karuna Bhandari, Neera Rajopadhyay, Mamta Thapa Magar, Shova Ale, Sita Shahi, Sonu Khadka, Manita Gautam, Rekha Rawal and Arun Aryal (coach).

Sunday, January 16, 2011

BMW brings 'Joy' and passion to Olympics

Dr Christoph Stark (front left), president and CEO of BMW Group Region China, and Ma Jilong, director of the General Administration of Sport's equipment administrative center, sign the sponsorship agreement.

Ivan Koh (left), president of BMW China Automotive Trading Ltd, with Olympic and Asian Games gold medal winners Jiao Liuyang, Li Yuehong and Yang Xiuli.

Jack Pitney (left), vice-president of marketing for BMW North America, and Olympic speed skater Apolo Ohno at a 2010 press conference in New York City announcing a six-year partnership with the US Olympic Committee.

BMW is the official auto partner of the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games.

As China continues to savor the successful 2008 Olympic Games and London prepares for its 2012 sports gala, premium automaker BMW has inked a six-year exclusive sponsorship deal with the Chinese Olympics Committee (COC).

The agreement was signed after yet another athletic extravaganza, the 16th Asian Games, which was held in Guangzhou last November.

BMW's premium cars and service will provide exclusive official transport to the COC and China's Olympic team during the 2012 London Games and 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

It is the first long-term partnership for the COC with an auto manufacturer.

Dr Christoph Stark, president and CEO of BMW Group Region China, noted at the signing ceremony for the sponsorship deal that "BMW has joined hands with Olympic sports in China not only because of our products and technology, but also for the resonance with our values and dreams - BMW is very happy to continue to integrate into the Chinese society through supporting China's Olympic efforts".

The agreement was also signed by Ma Jilong, director of the equipment administrative center for the General Administration of Sport of China (GASC).

Yang Shu'an, GASC vice-minister, witnessed the signing and praised the partnership as mutually beneficial.

The BMW brand has wide appeal in the sports world and is especially attractive to athletes.

After the 2008 Games, more than a third of Chinese Olympic champions chose BMW cars.

Also part of the sponsorship, BMW will organize a series of programs to raise awareness of the Olympic spirit over the next six years.

Challenges, innovation

The history of BMW is filled with overcoming challenges, pursuing perfection and continued innovation - all of which match the Olympic spirit.

During the Munich Games in 1972, BMW's first electric car, the BMW 1602, was used to lead the marathon and road walk events.

That year also saw the completion of BMW's landmark headquarters in Munich - the "Four-Cylinder Tower" - and launch of the first-generation BMW 5 Series.

BMW built its new US plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, in 1992, after which BMW North America sponsored the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and the US team.

The BMW Group has been the worldwide leader in the premium auto market since 2005 and began even deeper cooperation with the Olympics.

The BMW Group not only sponsors the Games, but also supports Olympic Committees in various countries.

Last year, BMW North America signed a six-year sponsorship agreement with the US Olympic Committee, becoming the first foreign auto sponsor in the organization's history.

BMW China's partnership with the COC is part of its growing commitment to the world's largest auto market and follows the launch of its "Joy" campaign worldwide in 2009.

Information from the company's marketing department notes that "the Olympics are a stage for passion and dreams, and the connection between the carmaker and the Olympic Games will create a new milestone for communicating the Joy of BMW".

Team in London

In 2009, Sir Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London Organizing Committee, announced that the BMW Group would be the automotive and sustainability partner of the London Games.

In the run-up to the Games, BMW is supporting everyday activities of Olympic committees and delegations from various countries.

According to the company, "the Olympics Games are a place for honor and passion - in 2012, BMW will welcome Team China and look forward to creating glory for China in London".

To meet the goal, BMW UK will provide more than 4,000 BMW and MINI cars.

All cars provided by BMW Group will be equipped with EfficientDynamics, the automaker's highly efficient and environmentally friendly technology. It will also supply electric MINI E models.

Since the 2008 Beijing Games, which advocated "Green Olympics", a low-carbon and healthy lifestyle has continued to be an Olympic Games commitment.

The company launched its EfficientDynamics strategy in 2002, and advanced energy-saving technologies are used in all production models. The company also implements sustainability throughout its production chain.

As a result, BMW achieved the highest reduction in carbon emissions of any automaker in Europe.

In 2010, it led the rankings as the industry leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes for the sixth consecutive year.

Fifty MINI E cars - the model to be used during the London Games - are currently undergoing road tests in China.


Kazakhstan cleans Almaty air for Asian Games

Thursday, January 13, 2011 - Almaty residents face month-long driving and auto restrictions as the region tries to clear the skies of air pollution while hosting the 7th Asian Winter Games.
Among the new restrictions that went into effect on Wednesday is a regulation forbidding non-Almaty residents from entering the city if their vehicle doesn’t meet environmental safety regulations, Kazakhstan Today (KT) reported on Thursday.
Also, extensive checks will be undertaken to ensure that Almaty residents’ vehicles are in compliance with environmental regulations. Public transport vehicles will also be subjected to checks.
Almaty residents will also not be able to burn oil, rubber or various wastes, according to the temporary regulations.
Almaty’s air contains high lead levels, Kazakhstan National Medical University professor Boris Nemenko told KT.
“The pilot area is seven times higher than the maximum possible concentration (MPC), Boris Nemenko said.
 “Therefore, residents are exposed to daily concentrations of lead exceeding permissible standards.”
Nemenko believes automobile pollution is to blame.
“The main source in our opinion is road transport. Today in Almaty, there are more than 500,000 units of motor transport, and adding in transport cars, that number amounts to 800,000 … this directly affects the state of atmospheric air,” he said.
The Asian Games will run from January 30 to February 6. The restrictions will be lifted February 12.

Indonesian Government Urges Companies to Take On Sponsorship Role in Games

Youth and Sports Affairs Minister Andi Mallarangeng and Indonesia Olympic Committee president Rita Subowo, center, kick off the 300-day countdown to the SEA Games in Jakarta on Sunday. (Antara Photo) Youth and Sports Affairs Minister Andi Mallarangeng and Indonesia Olympic Committee president Rita Subowo, center, kick off the 300-day countdown to the SEA Games in Jakarta on Sunday. (Antara Photo)

Jakarta. Organizers of the Southeast Asian Games revealed on Saturday that five companies were “seriously” considering offering a sponsorship package for the multisport event to be held in November.

Rita Subowo, president of the Indonesian Olympic Committee, said that one of the firms interested in supporting the Games was electronics company Samsung.

Terms of Samsung’s offer were not disclosed, but the sponsorship deal will likely include financial as well as logistical support such as providing electronic equipment to be used to run the Games operations.

Rita, however, did not name the other four companies but said the Games organizers “really appreciated these offers and welcomed more sponsorship proposals as we need them a lot.”

Rita joined Youth and Sports Affairs Minister Andi Mallarangeng and several other sports officials during a special ceremony kicking off the 300-day countdown to the SEA Games at Tanah Airku theater in Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, Jakarta on Saturday.

“The government welcomes all state-owned companies and the private sector who are interested to be part of the Games as sponsors. By being involved in this way, we are helping to make the Games a success,” Andi said during Saturday’s event.

The government has so far shouldered all the expenses to make sure the first SEA Games to be held in the country since 1997 will be a success, both in the hosting aspect and in achieving the goal of winning the Games’ overall title.

Last year, the government spent Rp 1 trillion ($110.5 million)to renovate venues in Palembang, South Sumatra — site of the Games opening and closing ceremonies — and Jakarta.

Just last week, the Youth and Sports Affairs Ministry announced that it would allocate Rp 300 billion for operations expenses during the Games, which will cover the bonus packages for medal winners and the cost to run the Asean ParaGames to be held in Solo.

Also on Saturday, the Indonesia SEA Games Organizing Committee (Inasoc) officially unveiled the Games logo, which features the mythical bird Garuda.

Kazakhstan cleans Almaty air for Asian Games

Sergey Khodanov
Almaty has imposed driving restrictions to reduce air pollution during its hosting of the Asian Winter Games

IMPHAL, Jan 14: The medalists of Common Wealth Games and Asian Games from the state have expressed displeasure over the failure of the state government to distribute the cash incentive awards of Rs. 5 lakhs for gold medal, Rs. 3 lakhs for silver medal and Rs two lakhs for bronze medal which were announced earlier by YAS minister N. Biren.
The medalists stated this during a reception ceremony organized by Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), Manipur State Unit, today at its head-office located at Nityapat Chuthek, Imphal.
Speaking at the reception funcxtion, the bronze medalist of 16th Asian Games held in Guangzhou, weightlifter L. Monika said that the state government has totally neglected the sportspersons of the state. The players of the state have brought so many laurels to the state against all odds.
The state government has even failed to fulfill its commitment of giving cash incentive awards to the medalists of Common Wealth Games and Asian Games. The state government has also not given any reception for the medalists whereby demoralizing the players of the state, she asserted.
.The gold medalist of 19th Common Wealth Games held in New Delhi, Yumnam Renubala stated that the meritorious sportspersons of the state have not been given any job or incentive. The medalists of the state seem to be overlooked by the state government by not distributing the cash incentive awards which were announced earlier by YAS minister.
There will be no good sportsperson in the state if the government continues to demoralize the medalists who have made Manipur proud by securing several medals at the international arena, she noted.
The bronze medalist of 16th Asian Games in wushu, Sandhyarani said that most of the meritorious sportspersons of the state have obtained jobs outside the state but they desire to coach other players in the state if the state government provides them a job.
Lauding the sportspersons of the state for having secured several medals at the Common Wealth Games and Asian Games, the state president of BJP, Sh. Shantikumar Sharma stated that the Manipuri players have excelled in various international competitions because of their die-hard spirit. The state government has totally neglected the sportspersons of the state who are in dire need of care and support.
The state government has failed to appreciate the talented sportspersons who have brought laurels to the state. There is lack of proper infrastructure and financial assistance on the part of the state government to promote and develop sports, he said.
Shantikumar further said that Haryana has been able to produce large number of medalists at the Common Wealth Games owing to the initiative of Chief Minister Hooda who have taken up so many things for the development of sports. The meritorious sportspersons are well appreciated in other states and not in Manipur, he averred.
The other medalists who have been given warm reception by the BJP were K. Sanahanbi, Kh. Bheigyabati and M. Bimoljit.
It may be mentioned that eight players from Manipur, namely boxer Mayengbam Suranjoy, weight-lifter L. Monika, wushu player M. Bimoljit, weight-lifter Y. Renubala, wushu player W. Sandhyarani, kabadi player K. Sanahanbi, wight-lifter A. Sandhyarani and archer L. Bombayla were given warm reception by the BJP during its National Executive Meeting held in Guwahati.
A cash incentive of Rs 66,000 was presented by the BJP to boxer Suranjoy who bagged a gold medal in Common Wealth Games and a bronze medal in Asian Games. The gold medalist of Common Wealth Games weight-lifter Renubala, kabadi player Sanahanbi, wushu player W. Sandhyarani, weight-lifter Monika, archer Bombayla, weight-lifter A. Sandhyarani and wushu player Bimoljit were also presented cash incentives of Rs 51,000, Rs 34,000, Rs 25,000, Rs 25,000, Rs 34,000, Rs 15,000 and Rs 15,000 respectively.

Asian Games: Sapporo to host 2017 Asian Winter Games

NUSA DUA, INDONESIA - OCTOBER 18:  IOC Preside...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
SAPPORO (Kyodo) -- The city of Sapporo, Hokkaido, will host the 2017 Asian Winter Games after Mayor Fumio Ueda announced the city's bid for it Friday, as no other city is expected to be in the running.
At the city assembly's economic committee, Ueda said the international sporting event "will be a golden opportunity to show the appeal of Sapporo to Asian countries while contributing to attracting tourists."
The formal decision will be made at the board meeting of the Olympic Council of Asia later this month.
After examining the request of the Japanese Olympic Committee to host the event, the municipal government decided to bid for it as the JOC is expected to shoulder 1 billion yen of the 3.5 billion yen cost to host the multisporting event.
(Mainichi Japan) January 15, 2011

Hong Kong Lawmakers Reject Games Bid Hong Kong Lawmakers Reject Games Bid

SINGAPORE - NOVEMBER 15: Chief Executive of Ho...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
HONG KONG—The government here suffered an embarrassing defeat in its effort to host a high-profile international sporting event as an overwhelming majority of lawmakers voted down funding for the project.
The territory's Legislative Council voted 40 to 14 Friday against spending 6 billion Hong Kong dollars (US$771 million) to upgrade sports facilities in the former British colony. Support for that measure was crucial in order for Hong Kong to submit a formal application to host the Asian Games in 2023 before the Feb. 15 deadline.
The Asian Games, also called Asiad, have been held every four years under the supervision of the International Olympic Committee since 1951. The 2010 games were held in Guangzhou, China, and the next games will be held in Incheon, South Korea. Within Asia, they are considered second in status and significance only to the Olympics as a sporting event in which the region's countries compete.
Legislators worried about the price of holding the games and questioned the government's priorities at a time when other livelihood issues are of greater public concern. In particular, rising property prices are making it difficult for many Hong Kongers to find affordable housing. The government slashed its budget request after public outcry over its initial HK$13.8 billion price tag in September.
That figure was just for operating costs. The government said they would need another HK$30 billion to renovate the city's sports facilities. Revenue from ticket sales, merchandising and sponsorships of HK$700 million to HK$860 million would cover only a fraction of costs, according to the government's own estimates.
The defeat comes after rival Doha, Qatar, beat Hong Kong to host the 2006 games.
Surveys found public opinion evenly split on support for the Games bid, despite a campaign by Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang, the city's top leader, and Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing. Public appearance by Hong Kong athletes failed to sway lawmakers.
Even lawmakers from the pro-Beijing, pro-business Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, which usually allies with Mr. Tsang, didn't support his efforts.

Aussies keen to partner Haryana in sports training, business

Peter Varghese
Australian High Commissioner Peter Varghese at the opening of the Austrade office in Panchkula on Friday.

Impressed by Haryana’s sports power in the recently held Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, Australia is looking at big business opportunities here and has proposed opening specialised sports academies in the state in collaboration with the state government.
Australian High Commissioner to India Peter Varghese, who inaugurated an Austrade office in Panchkula today, said that he has expressed his interest in this regard to Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.
“Nobody who watched the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games could fail to be impressed by Haryana’s performance. Developing the sports sector is high priority for the state, and Australia has considerable expertise in sports management. We have expressed our interest in setting up sports academies in Haryana, and are well-placed to work on such collaborations here,” said Varghese. 
Weak Hindi, strong liking for Biryani

Varghese, a 54-year-old Australian of Indian origin, sheepishly admits that he speaks “terrible Hindi”. His parents are Malayalis, and moved from Kerala to Kenya, where he was born. They later shifted to Australia. Varghese said he is fond of reading the works of Indian authors or those of Indian origin, his favourite being Salman Rushdie. Among the new crop of authors, he likes Vikram Seth, “though his works are rather long”. He is currently reading Chetan Bhagat’s 2 States: The Story of My Marriage. His strongest connect to India, he said, is the food. While he is more fond of south Indian dishes — “reflecting my upbringing”, he is now developing a taste for tandoori delights, and likes Hyderabadi biryani.

Puvaneswaran, Nicol clinch Olympian of the Year Awards

KUALA LUMPUR: Karate exponent R. Puvaneswaran pipped hot favourite cyclist Azizul Hasni Awang to win the 2010 Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM)-Coca-Cola Olympian of the Year Award for the men’s category at Wisma OCM yesterday.
The 37-year-old Kuala Lumpur kumite exponent edged Azizul, who was the first Malaysian to win the gold medal in the men’s keirin event in the Guangzhou Asian Games last November, by just one vote to win his first national level sports award.
Puvaneswaran showed exceptional courage and determination in winning the gold medal in the men’s below 55kg kumite event in the Asian Games.
It was also the first time a karate exponent had bagged a national sports award.
A karate first: R. Puvaneswaran posing with his Olympian Award medal and the RM10,000 mocked cheque at Wisma OCM last night. — ROHAIZAT DARUS / The Star
Bowler Alex Liew, who won two golds in Guangzhou and shuttler Koo Kien Kiat were the other two athletes nominated for the men’s category.
Three athletes were nominated for the women’s category – wushu exponent Chai Fong Ying, diver Pandelala Rinong and squash player Nicol David.
As expected world number one Nicol, who won two gold medals in the Asian Games in the individual and team event, won.
She is the only Malaysian athlete to win gold medals in the New Delhi Commonwealth Games and Asian Games last year.
This is the second time Nicol has won the Olympian award. She won her first award at the age of 15 when she bagged the gold medal in the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok.
Nicol David poses with mock cheque after receiving an incentives payment to national athletes who won gold medals in the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games by National Sports Council (NSC). - AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star
Nicol was in smashing form last year as she was unbeaten in 12 tournaments last year.
The Penangite also won all her nine Women’s International Squash Players Association (Wispa) titles last year.
Puvaneswaran received RM10,000 and a medal from the Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek last night.
Nicol, who won the National Sportswomen Award four times from 2006 to 2009, was not around as she is training in Melbourne under former world champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald,
The Asian Games squash team manager Peter Chee received the money and medal on her behalf.
Puvaneswaran was surprised to beat hot favourite Azizul to win the award.
“Everyone was expecting Azizul, the first Malaysian cyclist to win the keirin event in the Asian Games, to win the award.
“But much to my surprise, I beat Azizul for the award. It’s an honour to me as I have been nominated for the national sportsman award a few times but failed to win,” said Puvaneswaran, who has represented Malaysia in karate competitions for 20 years.
“The Guangzhou Asian Games was my last assignment as a national exponent and I am really happy to win the gold medal.
“I want to thank master T. Ponniah and my coach P. Arivalagan, who has helped me in training. I would also like to thank Makaf (Malaysia Karate Federation) and NSC (National Sports Council), who have taken care of my welfare for the last 20 years,” said the father of three sons.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Prince Ali assured of full Arab support in FIFA role challenge to Chung

AFC rivals: Prince Ali bin Al Hussein and Chung Mong-joon / lake images
AFC rivals: Prince Ali bin Al Hussein and Chung Mong-joon / lake images
KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications
LONDON/AMMAN, Dec 29: Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan has been reassured of full Arab support for his bid to overthrow South Korea's Chung Mong-joon as the Asian Football Confederation's FIFA vice-president.
Chung has held the position since 1994 and is almost as twice as old as 35-year-old Prince Ali, son of the late King Hussein of Jordan and the late Queen Alia. He is standing for relection on a platform of improved and fairer development work within Asia and improved communications beyond.
As president of the West Asian Football Association, Prince Ali has expected to count on full support from the Arab members of the AFB and speculation about a split among them has been quashed by Saudi Arabia's Said Jama’an of the Arab Football Federation.
He was speaking in Jakarta where he attended the AFF Suzuki Cup Final between Indonesia and Malaysia.
Ahead of the election on January 6 at AFC Congress in Doha, SAid Jama'an said: “I’m here to support Prince Ali on behalf of Saudi Arabia and also the Arab federation. All the Arabs are supporting Prince Ali. We need a person like him who can unite all of us and bring us together.
"We strongly believe in him. He is going to do the job right. It’s time for a change and he is good for the Asian region.”
Earlier Prince Ali, who is also the West Asia Football Federation president, spoke of wanting to move Asia forward, assist and protect all the AFC's member associations. He said: "I am not a politician but I want to see the sport grow in Asia.”

India Could Be Banned From Olympics

Not too far from an Olympic ban. Wake up time

IOC warns India could be banned from OlympicsThis is one bit of news no Indian sports lover would love to hear this festive season. After a year that was dominated by great efforts on the field and terrible controversies off it, the Indian Olympic Association is now on the verge of facing an international ban by the International Olympic Committee. If that happens, India will not be able to take part in the LondonOlympics. Can the authorities wake up at least now?
This was coming. The way sport is run in India is a known fact. That bad 'run' is set to cost India dear as the IOC has sent out a stern message. The International Olympic Committee at its Executive Board meeting warned India of a possible ban from the Olympics unless it resolves the spat over the country's sports chiefs. After a two-day meeting here, the IOCexecutive board said India will have take care of a number of issues. 

"Consequently if the situation does not evolve positively, the IOC executive board will consider taking appropriate measures and actions which might seriously affect the representation and participation of India at the Olympic Games and international sports events coming up," the IOC said in a statement. 

The international Olympic body insisted that the Indian government had agreed at a meeting here last year to adopt a jointly draft constitution while will respect the autonomy of the Indian Olympic Association and the national federations affiliated under it. 

IOC's threat came after the India government last year decided to limit the tenure and age of the country's top sports officials. If the Indian government refuses to move from its stance, the IOC has the power to impose sanctions including suspending the country from its membership -- a move that would prevent it taking part in the 2012 London Olympics.
Join the discussion
Do you think Indian sport continues to suffer from political interference?
A. Yes. It will never change in India. IOC's warning has come at the right time. 
B. No. Our political bosses will never learn lessons till the damage is done.
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IOC warns India could be banned from Olympics
Old bosses must go immediately
It will be highly important for the Indian authorities to take this message seriously and address the issues at the earliest. After all, the IOC has shown in recent times it means what it says. Back at the start of 2010, the IOC had banned Kuwait from international events for not conforming with the IOC guidelines and for excessive political interference into the way sport is run in that country.
Kuwait had failed to meet the IOC's December deadline for amending government legislation that permits the Gulf state to interfere in elections of sporting organisations. The shocked Kuwaiti athletes then pleaded with IOC to take part in the Asian Games of Guangzhou. Under some kind of 'mercy petition', IOC allowed 195 Kuwaiti athletes to take part in the Asian Games but very strictly under the IOC banner. They were labelled as 'athletes from Kuwait' during the Games at Guangzhou.
That wasn't the only case in recent times. The IOC also cracked the whip on Ghana just yesterday before warning India. The Ghanaian National Committee faced the suspension after the national government failed to take agreed steps to ensure no political interference in the body. It may also be recalled here that back in 2008, the IOC had barred the five Iraqi contestants from Olympics after Iraq failed to resolve the situation of 'political interference'. Given the two suspensions of fairly high profile sporting countries in the last 12 months, India will need to pull up its socks immediately and respond to the warnings of IOC.
What could happen if IOC bans India?
1. Indian athletes will not be able to compete in Olympics and major international events like Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and others 
2. Athletes who would want to compete in those events will need to apply to IOC and obtain clearance to participate under the IOC banner and not as athletes from India 
3. India will not be eligible to claim any funds from IOC 
4. India will not be eligible to bid for any IOC events 
5. Long term repercussions will be far more severe
The message from IOC this time around is more than just a subtle one. The so-called Kalmadis, Bhanots, Gills and all the ageing heads of governing bodies in India should immediately call it quits and allow the new generation to take over and resolve the issues. This has to happen now. Otherwise, don't be surprised to read a worse headline sometime soon.
Join the discussion
Do you think Indian sport continues to suffer from political interference?
A. Yes. It will never change in India. IOC's warning has come at the right time. 
B. No. Our political bosses will never learn lessons till the damage is done