Hubert Lawrence | Medal sweeps and wild cards

first_img As in London, the restriction will give a medal to a non-Chinese player. There is a solution that resonates far more with the spirit of fair competition. The suggestion is that each country be allowed three players in the Olympic singles competition once they meet the requirements of the International Table Tennis Federation. Moreover, it would preserve the right to sweep, which is permitted in other Olympic sports and to display the work, the infrastructure and national will that international dominance requires. The use of a wild card for either the reigning Olympic champion or World Champion would add excitement to table tennis. An Olympic wild card for the reigning World Champion would probably work well in that athletics, too. It would be a right only a winner could earn. • Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980. It isn’t fair when the rules of sport seem to smash one team or country in particular. It has happened in several sports and appears to have happened in table tennis, where China is the superpower. It simply doesn’t seem fair. China is the most successful nation in Olympic table tennis, winning 41 medals (20 gold, 13 silver, 8 bronze). In 2008, when China hosted the Games in Beijing, their players did the unprecedented. Led by Ma Lin and Zhang Yining, the Chinese delighted the lively home crowds by winning gold, silver and bronze in both the men’s and women singles. In a display of mastery, China won the men’s and women’s team events as well. Fast forward to the London Olympic Games of 2012. The rules changed. For the first time since table tennis became an official Olympic sport. In 1988, no country could enter more than two players in the individual events. Imagine that in Olympic track and field. The historic one-two-two finish by Jamaica in the 2008 100 metres would have been impossible. With Jamaica’s selection system, Sherone Simpson would have been barred from Beijing on account of her third place finish in the 100m at the 2008 Jamaican National Senior Championships. The same thing would have happened to Warren Weir who completed a Jamaican medal sweep at the London Games in the 200 metres. Like Sherone in 2008, he finished third at the Nationals. Untenable in other Olympic sports, the restriction has beaten world number two, Fan Zhendong, out the upcoming Games in Rio de Janeiro. He may become the king of table tennis later in his career, but this year his endeavour is for naught. In his place is reigning Olympic champion, Zhang Jike, the current world number four. This 28-year-old is wonderfully good in big tournaments. Before shoulder injuries slowed him, he had also won World Championships in singles when many doubted him in 2011 and 2013. Presumably, the Chinese table tennis authorities have taken that into account when they choose him over Fan and world number three Xu Xin. As we have seen in athletics, where the so-called wild card safeguards the qualification of immediate past winners to its latest World Championships, the presence of the defending champion adds something to the competition. Upsets make even bigger headlines when it is the champion who has fallen. Conversely, repeat wins make champions into legends. Zhang’s presence in Rio is therefore welcome, but because Fan can only watch, it comes at great expense. Restrictionslast_img read more


first_imgThe largest ever International Gathering of Christian Missionaries is to be held in Donegal in the coming days.The Columba Community of Prayer and Reconciliation is proud to host ‘Welcome Home to Missionaries’ from Friday 7th – 9th June 2013, as part of ‘The Gathering’ festivities happening throughout Ireland.The weekend, held at the IOSAS Centre and Celtic Prayer Garden in Lenamore, Muff, Co. Donegal, will be a celebration of Christian missionaries throughout the world, with over sixty returning home to Ireland especially for this event. Archbishop Eamon Martin will open these events on Friday 7th June at 6pm.Guest speakers from Kenya and the Philippines, including three times nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize Fr. Shay Cullen, will speak of their work. This seminar will be followed by small group discussion on the question “Is Ireland in Need of Mission?”Falling on the feast of St. Columba, the weekend also boasts short dramas highlighting the work and sacrifice of Columba, Ireland’s first Christian Missionary. Missionaries representing the five continents will give presentations regarding and their own work throughout the world.On the Saturday an interactive street pageant ‘The Return of Colmcille’, penned by award-winning writer Frank Cottrell-Boyce, will parade through Derry, City of Culture for 2013, in an entertaining story awash with colour and music. The setting for this festival is in itself a joy to behold. The Island of Saints and Scholars (IOSAS) Centre and Celtic Prayer Garden lies in the idyllic and serene Donegal countryside.The unique venue, dedicated to the saints and scholars of Ireland’s Golden Age between the 5th and 12th centuries, is set amongst six acres of natural bog land, with paths laid among the wild heather and scattered moss creating a peaceful and tranquil opportunity for a walk of reflection and prayer.This year also marks the 1450th anniversary of Columba’s first mission to the island of Iona where he founded his monastery in 563AD. What better time than now then to celebrate and honour the men and women who have followed in his footsteps, dedicating their lives in service around the world.Friday 7th June 6pm: Celtic Peace Garden, IOSAS Centre: Archbishop Eamon Martin opens our seminar, and introduces the guest speakers Derek Roulston, and three times nominee for Nobel Peace Prize Fr. Shay Cullen. Group discussion to follow.Saturday 8th June: Derry City (UK City of Culture 2013) “The Return of Colmcille” Interactive street pageant written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce and produced by Walk the Plank which will take place at various points on both sides of the river. Sunday 9th June: 12noon: Mass in honour of St Columba in St Columba’s Church, Longtower, Derry. All welcome.2:30pm Celtic Peace Garden, IOSAS Centre: Welcome Home to Missionaries celebration.MISSIONARIES FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE TO GATHER IN DONEGAL was last modified: May 23rd, 2013 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:missionariesPeace GardenThe Gatheringlast_img read more