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    Athletes start off at the Xiamen International Conference & Exhibition Center at the Xiamen International Marathon in Xiamen, southeast China's Fujian Province, Jan. 2, 2010.

    XIAMEN, Southeast China, Jan. 2 -- The 2010 Xiamen International Marathon kicked off Saturday morning with a record of 48,000 runners contending for honors in full marathon, half marathon, 10-km and 5-km races.

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    Athletes start off at the Xiamen International Conference & Exhibition Center at the Xiamen International Marathon in Xiamen, southeast China' Fujian Province, Jan. 2, 2010.

        Mugo Samuel Muturi of Kenya, defending champion in the men's race, set an event record of 2:08:51 last year. But Muturi, also the winner of the 2009 Beijing Marathon, faces stiff challenge this year as 15 others in the men's group have a personal best of under 2:10:00, among whom Bazu Worku of Ethiopia is the fastest with 2:06:15.

        After a clean sweep of top three in the women's race last year, China's dominance looks shaky this year due to the absence of a handful of elite runners, including reigning world champion Bai Xue.

        The Xiamen International Marathon, which was launched in 2003 and hailed by IAAF as the Gold Label Road Race, is renowned for its charming seaside scenic course. The whole course follows largely the scenic sections of the coastal city.

     

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    Athletes start off at the Xiamen International Conference & Exhibition Center at the Xiamen International Marathon in Xiamen, southeast China's Fujian Province, Jan. 2, 2010.

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    Athletes start off at the Xiamen International Conference & Exhibition Center at the Xiamen International Marathon in Xiamen, southeast China's Fujian Province, Jan. 2, 2010.

    (Xinhua/Jiang Kehong)

  •     BEIJING, Dec. 27 -- Xinhua News Agency selected the top 10 sports news of China in 2009:

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    The flag of 24th World Winter Universiade is escorted into Harbin International Conference, Exhibition and Sports Centre Gym at the opening ceremony of the 24th World Winter Universiade in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Feb.18, 2009.

        1. Northeast Chinese city Harbin hosted the 24th World Winter University Games from Feb. 18 to 28, in which China topped the medal tally with a 18-18-12 record.

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    Chinese table tennis players pose during the awarding ceremony of the men's singles and women's singles at the world table tennis championships in Yokohama, Japan, May 2009.

        2. China clean-swept five gold medals at the world table tennis championships, which took place in Yokohama, Japan, from April 28 to May 5.

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    Members China's national badminton team celebrate at the awarding ceremony of the 2009 Sudirman Cup World Team Badminton Championships in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, on May 17, 2009.

        3. China won its seventh Sudirman Cup world mixed team badminton championships on May.

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    Zhang Lin shows the gold medal after the men's 800m freestyle swimming final at the World Championships in Rome, Italy, July 29, 2009.

        4. Zhang Lin became China's first ever men's swimming world champion as he bettered Australian Grant Hackett's world record by over six seconds to win the 800m freestyle at the Rome Worlds on July 30.

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    People practise Taiji in front of the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest in Beijing, capital of China, August 8, 2009.

        5. Exactly one year after the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games, China inaugurated "National Fitness Day" on Aug. 8.

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    Liu Xiang of China celebrates the victory with the national flag after the final of men's 110m hurdles at the 18th Asian Athletics Championships in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, Nov. 12, 2009. Liu won the gold with 13.50 seconds.

        6. Star hurdler Liu Xiang came back after a sudden pullout from the 2008 Olympics, finishing second at the Golden Grand Prix in Shanghai on Sept. 20. The 2004 Olympic gold medalist then triumphed in the Chinese National Games in October, the Asian athletics championships in November and the East Asian Games in December.

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    Photo taken on Oct. 16, 2009 shows the art performance before the opening ceremony of the 11th Chinese National Games in Jinan, east China's Shandong Province.

        7. Shandong hosted the 11th Chinese National Games from Oct. 16 to 28, in which five world records were rewritten.

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    Lu Xiaojun of China takes a lift during the the men's weightlifting 77kg  at the world weightlifting championships in Gaoyang of Guangdong Province,China, Nov. 24, 2009.

        8. China claimed 18 gold, 11 silver and 10 bronze medals to top the world weightlifting championships in Goyang, South Korea, in November.

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    Criminal suspects stand on trial at the court for soccer corruption in Yixing of Jiangxi Province, China, Dec. 11, 2009.

        9. A nationwide crackdown was launched by police on match-fixing and gambling in the Chinese professional soccer leagues at the end of 2009. Chinese soccer has been a long disappointment to the fans with its poor quality of play, violence, corruption and match-fixing.

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    China's national flag and the flag of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region are raised during the opening ceremony of the 2009 East Asian Games in Hong Kong, south China, Dec. 5, 2009.

        10. Hong Kong hosted the 5th East Asian Games from Dec. 5 to 13,drawing 2,300 athletes from China, Chinese Taipei, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Guam, Japan, Macao of China, Mongolia, South Korea and Hong Kong of China.

     

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    Zheng Jie of China returns a shot to Lucie Safarova of Czech Republic during their match at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Toronto August 20, 2009.

    BEIJING: China's number two Zheng Jie has no plans to return to the state sports system and is happy with her first year of self-management despite the extra effort and lack of security it entailed.

    Along with compatriots Li Na, Yan Zi and Peng Shuai, the 26-year-old was this year freed from the obligation to be managed by the China Tennis Association (CTA), and pay 65 percent of her winnings for the privilege.

    CTA chief Sun Jinfang said last month she thought Zheng was in decline and, like other "less talented and more hardworking" players, would be better off back inside the national system.

    Zheng, who finished last season ranked 35th in the world with $534,172 in winnings, said it was inevitable that the first year of managing herself would have been a learning experience.

    "I am one of the first to try this and in the first year, I crossed the river feeling the stones," Zheng told China Weekly magazine.

    "My obligation is to try my best to get good results. As to whether I am suitable for self-management, I am not sure what is the standard we judge by, ranking or prize money?"

    Zheng was the first Chinese player to reach the last four of a grand slam when she lost in the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year, and followed that up with a doubles bronze at the Beijing Olympics.
    [Agencies]

  • Spain, Greece, Argentina and the United States will head separate groups at basketball's world championship in Turkey next year.

    The draw, held Tuesday in an Istanbul hotel, divided 24 teams into four groups of six, with each team playing the other five in their group. After that, the top four teams in each group head into a knock-out stage.

    Spain won the last championship in Japan in 2006. Argentina is currently the top-ranked basketball country, and the United States won gold at the Olympics in Beijing.

    The championship will be played August 28-September 12 in the cities of Ankara, Kayseri, Istanbul and Izmir. 

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    (L to R) FIBA Sports Director and former basketball star Lubomir Kotleba, Puerto Ricon basketball player Daniel Santiago, former NBA star Hakeem Olajuwon and former Turkish basketball player Efe Aydan attend the draw for the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Istanbul December 15, 2009.

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    2010 FIBA World Championship mascot performs during the 2010 FIBA World Championship draw in Istanbul December 15, 2009.

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    Dancers from the Fire of Anatolia perform during the 2010 FIBA World Championship draw in Istanbul December 15, 2009.

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    The 2010 FIBA World Championship trophy is seen on stage during the 2010 FIBA World Championship draw in Istanbul December 15, 2009.

    [Agencies]

  • Chinese fans who stayed up throughout the night to watch Ding Junhui win his second UK Championship snooker title yesterday morning are in for a treat.

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    China's Ding Junhui celebrates after defeating Scotland's John Higgins 10-8 in the final of the Snooker UK Championship in Telford, England, on Sunday.

    Having probably forsaken breakfast to watch the Chinese star's marathon 10-8 final victory over world champion John Higgins, Ding has promised family and friends 276 meat pies.

    "I will bring the pieces for you guys," Ding said on his blog an hour after his victory. "Thank you for spending a whole night supporting my play."

    Ding collected the first prize of 100,000 pounds ($162,455), the largest payday of his career, rose to sixth in the provisional world rankings and was also presented with his weight, 68kg, of the sponsor's product, which totaled 276 pies. "I was excited about winning my body weight in pies," said Ding. "We all made sure we were wearing a few extra layers of clothes for the weigh-in and I wanted to put a few snooker balls in my pockets but I wasn't allowed."

    On a more serious note, Ding said: "I know lots of fans, my family and friends have kept supporting me even when I was struggling over the past few years. I really appreciate that."

    Li Hao, a loyal Ding fan, said it was worth spending a whole night awake, failing to have breakfast and even arriving late for work to see his idol triumph.

    "Having Ding return to his best is the greatest reward for us fans," said Li, a bank employee in Beijing. "We cannot wait to eat the pies and see his trophy when he returns home."

    Asian No 1

    Smiling confidently, kissing the trophy and showing his fist to the audience, Ding, who is generally camera shy, had every reason to celebrate this time.

    He is now the most successful Asian player in professional snooker history. The victory gave Ding, the 2005 UK champion, his fourth ranking event title - surpassing the three titles won by Thailand's James Wattana.

    The 22-year-old also becomes only the seventh player - after Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, Mark Williams, Doug Mountjoy, Ronnie O'Sullivan and Higgins - to win the UK title twice.

    "I think I am a better player now," Ding said when asked if he had improved in the four years since winning his first UK title. "I am more experienced. Now I tell myself 'don't get angry'.

    "I had been working so hard before this tournament, harder than ever," said Ding. "I did not take a day off and spent at least seven hours in training each day.

    "I started a bit slow in the first match (against Mike Dunn) but I kept focused and felt better match after match."

    It was Ding's first major tournament victory since claiming the 2006 Northern Ireland Trophy and suggests he has overcome the mental scars inflicted by a 10-3 hammering at the hands of O'Sullivan in the 2007 Masters final.

    "I tried not to be distracted this summer break. So I traveled a lot in China and had a great time," he said.

    Ding showed signs of improved form after his break when he reached the quarterfinals of the Shanghai Masters in September.

    He took another step forward in October when he made the final of the Grand Prix at Kelvin Hall, Glasgow.

    Asked about his prospects of winning a first world title, Ding said: "I try every year but there are players better than me ... but anything can happen in tournaments."
    (China Daily)

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    HONG KONG: Unheralded South Korean Choi Ho-jin upset Olympic champion Lin Dan in straight sets to win the men's badminton final at the East Asian Games on Sunday, in one of the biggest upsets of the meet. Lin, a three-time world champion, blew early leads in both sets and appeared to struggle with the lighting, letting the shuttlecock go on several occasions when it fell in. Down 18-20 in the first set, the world No. 2 saved set point despite slipping, but an easy put-away gave Choi a 1-0 lead. Lin squandered 4-1 and 15-12 leads in the second set and bothered by two close calls that brought Choi back to 15-15. He never recovered, saving one match point down 17-20, but missing a forehand on the second to give Choi the win. The 26-year-old Lin said he was tired after a long season. "I played in so many tournaments in the second half of the year ... I was in France, I was in China," said Lin, who nonetheless praised Choi for playing well. "It's normal. There are so many young players now. They are channeling all their energy at you," he said. The result left China with a relatively poor showing in badminton, even though the sport is one of its strongest. In the women's singles final, world No. 17 Yip Pui-yin of Hong Kong beat fifth-ranked compatriot Zhou Mi 2-1 after Zhou retired with a waist injury while trailing 10-17 in the second set.

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    China's Lin Dan reacts after loosing a point to South Korea's Choi Ho-jin during the men's badminton singles final match at the East Asian Games in Hong Kong December 13, 2009.

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    China's Lin Dan reacts after losing a point to South Korea's Choi Ho-jin during the men's badminton singles final match at the East Asian Games in Hong Kong December 13, 2009.

    [Agencies]

  • MILAN: Juventus match winner Claudio Marchisio (pictured) said beating Serie A champions Inter Milan 2-1 on Saturday was a huge morale boost for the title race. 

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    The Italy midfielder, who had just returned from knee surgery, produced a fabulous finish just before the hour to cut Inter's lead to four points over AC Milan and five over Juve.

    "For morale we really needed to beat Inter because it is very difficult to stay behind this Inter side," the 23-year-old, who rose up through Juve's youth ranks,said.

     

    "Now we have to continue on this path. We can't lose lots more points if we want to win the scudetto. However, Milan are in great form."

    Most of the build-up to the big match in Turin centerd around Inter's Mario Balotelli and the fact Juve fans have often chanted racist songs about the striker.

     

    Authorities had threatened to suspend the game if there was further racist abuse but Juve fans largely behaved, even if Marchisio thought substitute Balotelli did not help himself.

    "I like him but he must improve aspects of his behavior," he said. "Today, after three incidents, he threw himself to the floor. However, our fans behaved well, and I'm happy for that."

    Juve's rookie coach, Ciro Ferrara, quickly turned his attention to Tuesday's Champions League home match with Bayern Munich, where a point will put them through to the last 16.

    "We deserved the victory but now we have to think about Tuesday. There are certain games that stimulate great players. It has been great to beat the champions," he said.

    Inter coach Jose Mourinho was sent to the stands during the match and did not do post-match interviews, leaving goalkeeper Julio Cesar to complain about the lack of penalties when Walter Samuel and Diego Milito went down.

    Inter must beat the Russian side at the San Siro to guarantee a place in the Champions League knockout round.

    (China Daily)

  • INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana: Sprinter Tyson Gay's resolutions for 2010 are simple - stay injury-free, run super-fast and put on some great shows against Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt.

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    Tyson Gay of the U.S. warms up before the 12th men's 100 metres heats during the world athletics championships at the Olympic stadium in Berlin, August 15, 2009. 

    "I'm not training yet," said Gay, who underwent groin surgery five weeks ago. "I have about three more weeks of rehab, then I'll get back into the swing of things."

    That includes challenging Bolt, the reigning world and Olympic champion and world record-holder at 100 and 200 meters. US star Gay spoke with Bolt a few weeks ago in France.

    "He's cool," Gay said on Saturday. "He asked me how my surgery went and told me to get back healthy. He said, 'We have to put on a great show next year, so get ready to run'."

    Gay and Bolt are set to meet in three IAAF Diamond League competitions next year.

    "I'm not sure yet which meets I'm going to run because my season has been set back a few months," Gay said.

    While Gay realizes the importance of racing against Bolt, he tries to treat his main rival like any other foe.

    "Once we step on the track you're the enemy," Gay said. "I want to beat you. You want to beat me."

    Former 100-meter world champion Gay was presented with the Jesse Owens Award at USA Track and Field's annual convention on Saturday. Gay also won the honor in 2007 after taking three gold medals at the World Championships in Osaka.

    Gay matched or lowered his US 100m record three times this year, capping his seaosn with a 9.69-second performance in September.

    At the World Championships in Berlin, Gay finished second to Bolt's 9.58 world record, taking the runner-up spot in 9.71.

    Nagging groin injuries forced Gay out of the 200 at Berlin and led to his operation.

    "I had pubalgia surgery. Basically it means both my groins were shredded and they had to get repaired," Gay said.

    "Some people call it sports hernia surgery but mine was different. They actually cut both sides of my groin and re-stitched them back together."

    Since tying the 100 world record in 2008 at 9.77, Gay has been nagged by injuries.

    "Now that I'm older and more mature, I understand it's not cool to be hurt and have nagging injuries, so I definitely want to stay healthy and run super-fast every time I step on the track."

    AFP

  • MADRID: Cristiano Ronaldo won and missed a penalty, scored a goal and was then sent off as Real Madrid came back to beat Almeria 4-2 at home in La Liga on Saturday.

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    Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo removes his shirt to celebrate a goal during their Spanish first division soccer match against Almeria at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid December 5, 2009.

    Manuel Pellegrini's side looked to be cruising when Sergio Ramos headed them in front after 31 minutes but the visitors netted twice in four minutes midway through the second half.

    Gonzalo Higuain levelled for Real in the 74th before their Portugal winger Ronaldo flung himself over Almeria goalkeeper Diego Alves to win a disputed penalty in the 81st.

    Alves saved the spot kick but Karim Benzema converted the rebound and Ronaldo made it 4-2 two minutes later, picking up a yellow card as he celebrated by taking his shirt off.

    In the last minute, Ronaldo kicked Almeria's Juanma Ortiz after a tussle for the ball, earning his second yellow card and was dismissed.

    Second-placed Real move on to 31 points, two behind undefeated leaders Barcelona who have also played 13 matches and face Deportivo Coruna away in the late game.

    Earlier, third-placed Sevilla were held 1-1 at home by 10-man Real Valladolid, bringing their La Liga title credentials into question for the second week in a row.

    Manolo Jimenez's side have 27 points, having now dropped four points at the Sanchez Pizjuan in consecutive home games.

    After lowly Malaga held them to a 2-2 draw last weekend, it was Valladolid's Angolan striker Manucho who put the visitors ahead with a superb diving header in the 33rd on Saturday.

    Valladolid had Borja Valero harshly sent off for a late tackle after 39 minutes and just before the break Sevilla levelled when Luis Fabiano netted from the penalty spot.

    But the hosts were unable to make the extra man count.

    Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero fired Atletico Madrid to a 2-0 win at bottom club Xerez for their first away win of the campaign and their second victory in a row.

    Improving Atletico, who finished with 10 men after Alvaro Dominguez was sent off late on, climbed to 11th with 13 points.

    (Agencies)

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    Shen Xue (R) and Zhao Hongbo from China perform at the gala exhibition of the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Tokyo December 6, 2009. Shen and Zhao won the gold medal, followed by compatriots Pang Qing and Tong Jian. Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany finished third.

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    Tong Jian and Pang Qing from China perform at the gala exhibition of the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Tokyo December 6, 2009.

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    Nathalie Pechalat (top) and Fabian Bourzat from France perform at the gala exhibition of the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Tokyo December 6, 2009.

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    South Korea's Kim Yu-na performs at the gala exhibition of the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Tokyo December 6, 2009.

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    Japan's Miki Ando performs at the gala exhibition of the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Tokyo December 6, 2009. 

    [Agencies]