Badminton in Indonesia and China Part 3

Cold War Games

GanefoBronzeMedalGanefoBronzeMedal1

In November 1963, less than a year before the Tokyo Olympics, socialists from around the world gathered in Jakarta to hold their own Games, in a direct challenge to the IOC.

Sukarno, the left-leaning president of Indonesia, felt that the Second and Third Worlds were being ignored by the First, and he hoped to restore the balance of sporting power.

The football tournament included a North Korean team which would go on to shock the world, by beating Italy at the 1966 World Cup. It played Egypt in the final but, when the match remained level after extra time, it was decided on a coin toss. The locals favoured North Korea, and there was riotous behaviour when Lady Luck gave the title to Egypt.

The undoubted star of the Games was another North Korean, Sin Kim-Dan. She claimed three gold medals and her times for the 400m and 800m were unratified world records.

Unfortunately, the IAAF took a dim view of her attendance and she was banned from competing in Tokyo. Had she done so, she would surely have won the same two races again, and beaten both Betty Cuthbert of Australia and Ann Packer of Great Britain.

The strangest event was the team badminton competition. Indonesia, as the world champion, was expected to win easily. In the final, it faced China, whose unheralded players included Tang Xian Hu and Hou Jia Chang, who had been born in Indonesia.

But the Chinese team proved to be far superior to that of the host, which was missing its hero, Ferry Sonneville, and it dominated the tie. This was humiliating for Indonesia but also embarrassing for China, for whom GANEFO was, in part, a diplomatic venture.

Blushes were spared all round when Tang crumbled in the final rubber. Or so it seemed.

In fact, as Tang later admitted, he had been instructed to deliberately lose the match by Chinese officials, as part of the policy of “friendship first competition second”. He acted much like the players who threw games at London 2012 but, rather than wanting to get a better draw, he had a political motive instead. This was Cold War diplomacy in action.

Juventus in Jakarta

There would be no more global GANEFO Games. Sukarno was overthrown in 1965 in a Western-backed coup, while China turned against sport during the Cultural Revolution. Indonesia was quietly readmitted to the IOC and the Olympics continued unharmed.

The stadium where the Games took place is now named after Sukarno and often hosts football matches featuring touring European clubs. In the summer of 2014, Juventus came to visit and it was filled with Indonesians decked out in black and white (above).

Juventus made it clear that the purpose of the match was to tap into the Asian market, an outcome which might have made Sukarno smile. Capitalism had won the Cold War but the sporting supremos in the West could not afford to ignore Indonesia any longer.

Next week: How canoeing in Hungary benefits from its location on the river Danube

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Beat the Cheat

Review of the week: 17 – 23 August 2015

100 m final moment at 2015 World Championships in Athletics Beijing

A triumph of good over evil is how Usain Bolt’s narrow defeat of Justin Gatlin has been portrayed in many sources. Following recent damaing revelations, it would have done further harm to the sport had Gatlin, a two-time convicted doper, claimed the victory.

But Bolt was right to say in the build-up to the race that he cannot save athletics on his own. His win has opened up a period of grace in which the IAAF, and its newly elected president, Sebastian Coe, have to act to prevent a similar situation from arising again.

It is a common practice to try to identify countries which have a problem with doping but this is fraught with danger. There are places where testing is poorly administered and delight is sometimes taken in pointing out the holes in system. But doping is also rife in more established nations, a fact which has never been clearer than in this final.

There were no less than three Americans in the race who have served bans, Gatlin, Gay and Rodgers (above with Bolt). The United States clearly needs to address the issue too.

Having said that, let us also take a moment to bask in the glow of Bolt’s victory, not only for its symbolic importance but also because he is surely now the greatest sprinter ever.

Hessischen Ministerpräsidenten Jeroen Dubbeldam auf Utasha 6 mk

It was another rough week for the hosts at the European Equestrian Championships in Aachen, and another good one for the Netherlands, for whom #OrangeIsTheNewGold.

The Dutch added the team show jumping title to the team dressage event they won last week, while Jeroen Dubbeldam (above) claimed individual gold. The Netherlands now seem to have overtaken Germany as the country to beat in the equestrian events in Rio.

Hungary continued its long tradition in canoe sprint by accumulating the largest haul of medals at the World Championships. The women’s K2 500m was won by Danuta Kozak, for whom it was her 11th gold medal, and Gabriella Szabo, for whom it was her 9th gold.

At the European Modern Pentathlon Championships, Laura Asadauskaite of Lithuania, the Olympic champion, took the honours  and is likely to enter 2016 as the favourite to retain her crown. Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe of Ireland was a more surprising male victor.

Amateur boxing championships took place last week on two different continents. The hosts led the way at the African event in Morocco, taking five of the ten titles on offer.

The equivalent tournament in the Americas was held in Venezuela but it was Cuba who dominated. It had a boxer in every final and took home a gold medal from seven of them.

The decline of American boxing continued as only a single boxer from the United States qualified for the World Championships in October. As well as its laxity towards Gatlin and others, this is something else for the country’s sporting administrators to ponder.

Next week: The rest of the World Athletics Championships, plus judo and blind football

Badminton in Indonesia and China Part 2

Sonneville 1962 3

By the early 1960s, Indonesia was the top badminton nation in the world. The sport had arrived in Medan in the 1930s, when advertisements for equipment started to appear in local newspapers, and it then spread firstly through the Chinese minority community, who invited Malaysian Chinese players over from Penang to play in exhibition matches.

But it soon also caught on with the rest of the population, producing international stars such as Ferry Sonneville (above). Sonneville led Indonesia to victory in the 1958 Thomas Cup, succeeding Malaysia as champions, and beat Erland Kops of Denmark on the way.

The government then made a momentous decision. It placed citizenship restrictions on people of Chinese ancestry born in Indonesia. Many of them chose to depart for China, including some promising young badminton players. China gained a team from nothing.

I have previously outlined the three ways in which sports move from country to country, imperial expansion, movement between neighbouring countries and immigration. All three are required to explain badminton’s route from Great Britain to China: via empire to Malaysia; across the sea to Indonesia; and then through enforced migration to China.

Indonesia postage stamp Badminton-1961

In 1961, Indonesia retained the Thomas Cup, completing a double which was celebrated on a postage stamp (above). But despite its poor treatment of its Chinese people, it was beginning to form closer political ties with China and, when it hosted the Asian Games in 1962, it would find itself on a collision course with the administrators of global sport.

Before Nixon, China was excluded from most international competition. Only the table tennis federation, led by British communist, Ivor Montagu, allowed it to be a member.

But Indonesia invited its ally to the Asian Games in Jakarta, even sending blank pieces of paper instead of identity cards to the delegation from Taiwan. Its IOC membership was suspended as a result and Indonesia reacted by creating its own Olympic Games.

The event took place in Jakarta in November 1963 and was known as the Games of the New Emerging Forces. Teams from newly independent countries in Asia and Africa were invited, alongside major powers from the Communist world, including, of course, China.

The badminton tournament was a rare opportunity for Indonesia to face China, which had never played in the Thomas Cup, and whose team included several Indonesian-born stars. It would finally be possible to determine the best badminton nation in the world.

Next week: The GANEFO Games and the most bizarre game of badminton ever played

All-Time Medal Table for Sprinting

World Athletics Championships 1980 – 2013

Debbie Ferguson berlin 2009

Its sometimes seems as though Jamaica has dominated the sprints for decades but the memory can play tricks. 17 of its 23 gold medals have come in the three Championships since 2009 and, in the five Championships between 1997 and 2005, it won just one gold.

Jamaica has the top two medallists in history comprising Merlene Ottey with 14 medals and Usain Bolt with 10 medals, 8 of them gold. Bolt will surely increase his tally in 2015.

But the United States has the best overall record by some margin. Its many medallists include Carl Lewis and Allyson Felix, with 10 medals and 8 golds apiece, but Felix should be able to overtake Lewis in Beijing. Michael Johnson also has 8 gold medals and would have a ninth had relay teammate, Antonio Pettigrew, not been disqualified for doping.

The Bahamas only has a population of around 300,000 which makes its performance in sprinting events extraordinary, particularly its strength in depth. Six of its medals and two of its gold medals have been secured by winning relays. Its most successful athlete is Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie (above), who has won a total of 4 medals, 2 of them gold.

For the purposes of this table, a sprinting event is defined as any event on the track in which the runners cover 400m or less, including all of the hurdles event and the relays.

Medals from the 1980 World Championship women’s hurdles in Sittard are included.

G S B
United States 91 59 41 191
Jamaica 23 39 32 94
East Germany 11 7 5 23
Great Britain 9 13 21 43
France 7 7 6 20
Russia 6 7 16 29
Soviet Union 6 4 6 16
Bahamas 5 6 4 15
Australia 5 3 3 11
Germany 4 6 8 18
Canada 4 5 4 13
Trinidad and Tobago 2 4 5 11
Dominican Republic 2 1 1 4
Ukraine 2 1 1 4
Morocco 2 1 0 3
Namibia 1 3 0 4
Cuba 1 2 2 5
Italy 1 2 2 5
South Africa 1 2 2 5
China 1 2 1 4
Czechoslovakia 1 2 0 3
Zambia 1 2 0 3
Greece 1 1 3 5
Bulgaria 1 1 1 3
Botswana 1 1 0 2
Poland 1 0 5 6
Saint Kitts and Nevis 1 0 4 5
Mexico 1 0 3 4
Senegal 1 0 1 2
Sweden 1 0 1 2
Barbados 1 0 0 1
Czech Republic 1 0 0 1
Grenada 1 0 0 1
Nigeria 0 3 3 6
Brazil 0 3 2 5
Ivory Coast 0 2 0 2
Puerto Rico 0 2 0 2
Kazakhstan 0 1 1 2
Kenya 0 1 1 2
Sri Lanka 0 1 1 2
Finland 0 1 0 1
Panama 0 1 0 1
Uganda 0 1 0 1
Japan 0 0 3 3
Belgium 0 0 2 2
Belarus 0 0 1 1
Cayman Islands 0 0 1 1
Haiti 0 0 1 1
Netherlands 0 0 1 1
Serbia 0 0 1 1
Slovakia 0 0 1 1
Spain 0 0 1 1
Switzerland 0 0 1 1

All-Time Medal Table for Distance Events

World Athletics Championships 1980 – 2013

Yusuf Saad Kamel Berlin 2009

Although Ethiopia comes second in this list, it has the top two medallists in the distance events, Haile Gebrselassie with 7 medals and Kenenisa Bekele with 6, including 5 golds.

Kenya produces far more athletes but with less longevity. A notable exception is Ezekiel Kemboi, who has 3 golds and 3 silvers in the 3,000m steeplechase alone. He is coming to the end of his career now but an increase to his tally in Beijing is not out of the question.

Kenya would be even more dominant if athletes born in Kenya but representing other nations were included, such as Yusuf Saad Kamel (above). Bahrain occupies eighth place in the table without any of its medallists having actually been born within its borders.

Morocco’s third place is largely historical – its last medal was in 2007 – and owes a lot to the 6 won by Hicham El Guerrouj. Its neighbour Algeria has not won a medal since 2003.

All of Japan’s medals except one have come in the marathon. It has a strong tradition of endurance running but its system is not set up to produce medallists on the track. The 10,000m is short compared with its biggest domestic race, a team relay over 135 miles.

For the purposes of this table, a distance event is defined as any non-walking event over a distance of 800m or more, including both the 3,000m steeplechase and the marathon.

Medals from the 1980 World Championship women’s 3,000m in Sittard are included.

G S B
Kenya 43 36 31 110
Ethiopia 22 19 23 64
Morocco 8 10 6 24
Russia 7 9 7 23
United States 6 9 9 24
Great Britain 6 7 5 18
Algeria 6 0 3 9
Bahrain 5 1 1 7
Spain 4 7 5 16
Soviet Union 4 6 6 16
Portugal 4 5 3 12
China 4 4 3 11
Romania 4 3 6 13
Japan 3 5 7 15
Cuba 3 2 0 5
Germany 3 1 2 6
Mozambique 3 1 1 5
Denmark 3 0 0 3
Italy 2 5 5 12
South Africa 2 2 2 6
Qatar 2 1 1 4
Ireland 2 1 0 3
Norway 2 0 2 4
Uganda 2 0 1 3
East Germany 1 5 5 11
Poland 1 1 1 3
Sweden 1 1 0 2
Australia 1 0 2 3
Switzerland 1 0 2 3
Somalia 1 0 1 2
Czech Republic 1 0 0 1
Czechoslovakia 1 0 0 1
North Korea 1 0 0 1
Djibouti 0 2 1 3
Turkey 0 2 0 2
France 0 1 6 7
Brazil 0 1 3 4
Burundi 0 1 1 2
Netherlands 0 1 1 2
Suriname 0 1 1 2
Ukraine 0 1 1 2
Austria 0 1 0 1
Canada 0 1 0 1
Eritrea 0 1 0 1
Mexico 0 1 0 1
Namibia 0 1 0 1
Sudan 0 1 0 1
Tanzania 0 1 0 1
Tunisia 0 1 0 1
Belgium 0 0 2 2
Bulgaria 0 0 1 1
Finland 0 0 1 1
Saudi Arabia 0 0 1 1

Tomorrow: Which countries produce the fastest athletes of them all, the top sprinters?

All-Time Medal Table for Throwing Events

World Athletics Championships 1983 – 2013

Valerie Vili Berlin 2009

The most striking aspect of this table is the extraordinary and yet rarely remarked upon dominance of Germany (these figures do not include East Germany), which has won 19% of all medals in the throws. To put this into its full context, this is more than the 16% of medals won by Jamaica in the sprints and the 13.5% won by Ethiopia in distance events. Its top star has been discus thrower, Lars Riedel, with five golds and one bronze in total.

Belarus has carved out a throwing niche for itself in the post-Soviet era, but not without controversy. Several of its medallists have had their results struck from the records as a sanction for doping, and more could follow, casting those which remain into doubt too.

Javelin has a different profile than the other events and, for Finland, the Czech Republic and Norway, the vast majority of their throwing medals have been in that discipline. In a javelin only medal table, they would take three of the top four places, with the Germans.

Shot putter, Valerie Adams (above), has won most of the medals listed for New Zealand, four golds and a silver. But she is not the only Kiwi thrower – Beatrice Faumuina took a discus title in 1997. These are New Zealand’s only outdoor world championship medals.

G S B
Germany 22 17 21 60
Belarus 9 7 3 19
United States 8 7 6 21
Russia 7 9 10 26
Cuba 5 5 5 15
Finland 5 5 2 12
Czech Republic 5 2 3 10
New Zealand 5 1 0 6
Soviet Union 4 6 5 15
Poland 4 6 1 11
East Germany 4 5 3 12
China 4 1 6 11
Norway 3 4 1 8
Switzerland 3 0 0 3
Greece 2 4 5 11
Estonia 2 3 2 7
Lithuania 2 2 0 4
Czechoslovakia 2 0 3 5
Tajikistan 2 0 0 2
Australia 1 3 1 5
Great Britain 1 3 1 5
Romania 1 2 3 6
Japan 1 1 2 4
Slovenia 1 1 1 3
Bulgaria 1 0 3 4
South Africa 1 0 1 2
Croatia 1 0 0 1
Hungary 0 5 3 8
Ukraine 0 2 6 8
Netherlands 0 2 2 4
France 0 1 2 3
Canada 0 1 1 2
Italy 0 1 0 1
Slovakia 0 0 2 2
American Samoa 0 0 1 1
Iran 0 0 1 1

Tomorrow: The nations with the most endurance, who succeed at the distance events

All-Time Medal Table for Jumping Events

World Athletics Championships 1983 – 2013

YarisleySilvaSilverMedalLondonOG2012

The appearance of the United States at the top of this list is no great surprise, given its dominance of the long jump. Dwight Phillips has been world champion four times and there is a chance, albeit a slight one, that Brittney Reese could match his tally this year.

Neither will emulate the six titles of the pole vaulter, Sergey Bubka, a record for repeat wins of the same event. Three were clinched in Ukrainian colours and three wearing the hammer and sickle of the Soviet Union. Ukraine occupies fourth place in the table, and Russia second, as the Soviet legacy in field events continues, long beyond the Cold War.

It continues in a different way in Cuba where, under its Communist government, the country turned away from Caribbean sprinting culture in favour of the jumps and the throws. For more than twenty years, it has had an exceptional record in triple jump, high jump and long jump, including Ivan Pedroso, who shares Dwight Phillips’ achievement of four gold medals. In Yarisley Silva (above), it now also has a world-class pole vaulter.

France has won seven medals in the men’s pole vault but none of them gold, something which Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie will be hoping to finally put right in Beijing.

G S B
United States 23 12 15 50
Russia 15 23 15 53
Cuba 10 12 4 26
Ukraine 8 4 4 16
Soviet Union 5 8 5 18
Germany 5 5 5 15
Poland 3 4 3 10
Italy 3 3 3 9
Sweden 3 2 4 9
Bulgaria 3 2 3 8
Great Britain 3 2 3 8
South Africa 3 2 0 5
France 2 5 3 10
Australia 2 2 3 7
Croatia 2 1 0 3
Bahamas 2 0 2 4
Jamaica 1 2 0 3
Spain 1 1 3 5
Greece 1 1 2 4
Czech Republic 1 1 1 3
Portugal 1 1 1 3
Brazil 1 1 0 2
Netherlands 1 1 0 2
East Germany 1 0 2 3
Colombia 1 0 1 2
Norway 1 0 0 1
Panama 1 0 0 1
Romania 0 2 1 3
Cameroon 0 2 0 2
Kazakhstan 0 2 0 2
Canada 0 1 2 3
Cyprus 0 1 1 2
Israel 0 1 1 2
Nigeria 0 1 1 2
Bermuda 0 1 0 1
Ghana 0 1 0 1
Hungary 0 1 0 1
Qatar 0 1 0 1
Austria 0 0 1 1
China 0 0 1 1
Denmark 0 0 1 1
Dominica 0 0 1 1
Finland 0 0 1 1
India 0 0 1 1
Latvia 0 0 1 1
Mexico 0 0 1 1
Serbia 0 0 1 1
Slovenia 0 0 1 1
Turkey 0 0 1 1
Zimbabwe 0 0 1 1

Tomorrow: Which countries are the most successful when it comes to throwing things?

All-Time Medal Table for Race Walking

World Athletics Championships 1976 – 2013

Perez-flag

The least said about Russia’s dominance the better. Of its 31 medals won, 6 are in the process of being annulled, but remain in the IAAF’s database, pending an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Another 9 have been won by athletes who subsequently failed doping tests, and a further 8 were given to walkers trained by the controversial, and now banned, coach Viktor Chegin. That leaves only 8 which are above suspicion.

Neither Italy nor Spain are entirely innocent either but both have a long race walking history. In Italy’s case, it goes back to Ugo Frigerio, a triple Olympic gold medallist in the 1920s. La Coruna in Spain has hosted a race walking event every year since 1987.

The most interesting aspect of the table is the success of countries from the highlands of Latin America, such as Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia, which otherwise do not have much of a tradition in track and field. Although Jefferson Perez (above) has won all of Ecuador’s medals, he is by no means the only Ecuadorian walker. And Guatemala could well be added to the list this year through the Olympic silver medallist Erick Barrondo.

The high altitude is perfect for training for endurance events, and Mexico dominated the big city marathons in the early nineties (how quickly we forget), but it seems that they are carving out a niche for themselves, rather than trying to compete with Kenya.

Equally remarkable is the record of Ireland, which has won a total of just six medals in the history of the World Athletics Championships. Half of them are in race walking.

Medals from the 1976 World Championship race walking event in Malmo are included.

G S B
Russia 16 10 5 31
Italy 5 4 3 12
Soviet Union 4 2 4 10
Ecuador 3 1 0 4
Poland 3 0 1 4
Spain 2 7 7 16
Mexico 2 1 4 7
Finland 2 1 2 5
East Germany 2 1 0 3
China 1 4 3 8
Ireland 1 2 0 3
Australia 1 1 3 5
Belarus 0 3 4 7
Czechoslovakia 0 2 0 2
France 0 1 0 1
Norway 0 1 0 1
Sweden 0 1 0 1
Germany 0 0 2 2
Colombia 0 0 1 1
Portugal 0 0 1 1
Tunisia 0 0 1 1
United States 0 0 1 1

Tomorrow: The countries which are able to jump further and higher than anybody else

Home and Away

Review of the week: 10-16 August 2015

2013 IPC Athletics World Championships - 26072013 - Brent Lakatos winner of the Men's 100m - T53

Canada loves to finish second. Following its performance at the Pan American Games in Toronto, where it was behind only the United States in the medal table, it repeated the feat at the Parapan American Games, with stars including Brent Lakatos (above).

However, this time, Brazil was on top, with more than twice as many gold medals as the hosts. It looks in good shape for the Paralympics next year, a sign that home advantage applies even when not yet at home, because of the investment in sport which results.

German dressage riders were at home for the European Equestrian Championships in Aachen but were less keen to finish anywhere but first. Unfortunately for them, they came third to the Netherlands in the team event while Kristina Broering-Sprehe twice finished second to Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain in the individual competitions.

Australia took full advantage of the Netball World Cup being in Sydney, by claiming its third title in a row, and it also had a great week on foreign soil as golfer Jason Day won the US PGA Championship. It helped to make up for some recent grim sporting results.

Carolin Marin

In Jakarta, the Indonesian pair of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan regained the men’s doubles crown after missing the event last year through injury. But the big story was in women’s singles where Saina Nehwal became the first Indian to reach any final, and China failed to make the last four for the first time in more than thirty years.

Carolina Marin (above) defended her title but it was only the second medal for Spain in history, a result so unfamiliar that the organisers played the wrong national anthem.

There were amateur boxing championships for women in Asia and for men in Europe. In Walanchubu, China, the hosts took six of the ten gold medals on offer but Thailand also did well, with two golds. In Samokov, Bulgaria, the most successful nations were Russia, with four champions, and Ireland with two. Great Britain reached five finals.

But only one of the British boxers won his final, with the most surprising defeat being for the aptly named Muhammad Ali. He lost to the local favourite, Daniel Asenov, in a controversial judging decision, one which reflects home advantage of a different kind.

Next week: Show jumping, canoe sprint, and Bolt and Gatlin race over 100m in Beijing

All-Time Medal Table for Combined Events

World Athletics Championships 1983 – 2013

20090819 Roman Serble

The nations with the best record in heptathlon and decathlon include some surprising ones. But the Czech Republic takes second place with medals from just two athletes, Tomas Dvorak and Roman Sebrle (above). Sweden’s three golds to claim third were all won by Carolina Kluft, and Ghada Shouaa of Syria elevates her country to tenth place.

With more genuine strength in depth are Germany, which has a total of twelve medals from eight athletes, and the table-topping United States, which has fourteen from ten athletes, including Dan O’Brien, who equals Dvorak and Kluft with three gold medals.

G S B
United States 10 1 3 14
Czech Republic 4 2 0 6
Sweden 3 0 0 3
Germany 2 5 5 12
Great Britain 2 4 2 8
East Germany 2 1 1 4
Russia 2 1 1 4
France 1 2 0 3
Ukraine 1 1 0 2
Syria 1 0 1 2
Belarus 0 3 2 5
Canada 0 2 2 4
Soviet Union 0 1 2 3
Cuba 0 1 1 2
Estonia 0 1 0 1
Finland 0 1 0 1
Jamaica 0 1 0 1
Romania 0 1 0 1
Hungary 0 0 2 2
Kazakhstan 0 0 2 2
Ghana 0 0 1 1
Lithuania 0 0 1 1
Netherlands 0 0 1 1
Poland 0 0 1 1

And now the small print. Five more tables will follow this one in the days approaching Beijing 2015. All medals awarded up to the 2013 World Championships are included and all disqualifications and reallocations of medals since then have been taken into account. This includes all results on which the IAAF has ruled before 16 August 2015.

Last week, 28 athletes were provisionally suspended by the IAAF for adverse findings in doping retests. The samples had originally been given at the World Championships in 2005 and 2007. Not all of the names are yet known and it will take some time for due process to be followed. It is likely that some more medals will be reallocated because of the findings and any changes will be incorporated into future editions of these tables.

The figures for Germany include medals won by West Germany in 1983 and 1987, but not those won by East Germany, for obvious cheating-related reasons. Both the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia are treated separately from their various successor states.

Tomorrow: The countries that have won the largest number of medals in race walking