Mixed news for China’s stable of Olympics heroes. As the Washington Post reports, basketball superstar Yao Ming made his first appearance in competition since being seriously injured in an NBA game in February, and didn’t do half bad:
The Houston Rockets’ center marked his return from injury yesterday with 11 points in just more than 12 minutes of play for the Chinese national team in a warmup against a Serbian squad.
Entering six minutes into the first quarter to huge applause from the crowd in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, Yao appeared a little rusty, but made a solid contribution to China’s 96-72 victory in the four-team Stankovic Cup tournament.
But Olympic champion hurdler Liu Xiang, at least as big a star as Yao on the mainland, looks to still be suffering a hamstring injury that forced him to sit idle as his world record fell last month (from the BBC):
In an interview with China’s CCTV, the 110m hurdler said his injury was “not so great”, but added: “I hope I can get completely fit in the next two weeks.”
Liu is seen as China’s best prospect for gold on the track in Beijing.
But he faces competition from Cuba’s Dayron Robles, who broke Liu’s world record, running 12.87 seconds in June.
“I feel like he is born to be a hurdler,” Liu said of his 21-year-old rival.
Finally, with less than a month to go to the Big Dance, Reuters reports Ratomir Dujkovic, head coach of China’s frankly awful men’s soccer team, has been relegated to and advisory role on account of health reasons:
The Serbian coach will retain his title but but will be limited to offering “technical analysis” and “macro advice” to Yin Tiesheng, who is now running the team, Chinese Football Association (CFA) head Xie Yalong told Xinhua.
“Dujkovic has not been sacked,” said Xie. “He is still the head coach of China Olympic team but now the daily training and matches will be supervised by Yin.”
Xie said 62-year-old Dujkovic, who led Ghana to the knockout stages of the 2006 World Cup finals, had accepted the decision after discussions with the CFA.
“This decision was made mainly with regard to his health condition,” said Xie. “He’s not in good physical condition, he’s suffering from high blood pressure and headaches.”