Fourteen-year-old Chinese golfer GUAN TIANLANG's background "is far from the typical rags-to-riches, product of a state sporting system story usually preferred by the Communist party," according to Robinson & Zhu of FINANCIAL TIMES. And that "has not escaped the notice of many Chinese social media users." His achievement "drew the usual congratulations and expressions of national pride on Weibo." Those who saw a different significance in Guan's success in capitalism's favorite game said on Weibo, "This is rich people's playthings." Another user said, "He has got to be a rich family kid." The plush surroundings of Lion Lake Country Club in Guangzhou, where Guan took up the game "are indeed in stark contrast to the bare walls of the government academies where China churns out its Olympians." The course "is a playground for China's swelling country club class." A single weekend round at the club "costs about a quarter of the province's average monthly salary." Golf Digest's Hong Kong edition Reporter SUSAN HUANG said that "Guan Tianlang is part of a new generation of teenage golfers in China." As a new affluent class has grown in China over the past two decades, "so too has the popularity of golf." Amid controversy over shady land deals, "the government has repeatedly tried to ban the construction of new courses at times." But that "has done little to stymie the growth of the sport" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 4/12).
People and Pop Culture
Olympic Gold Medal-winning coach MIKE HAY will be Team GB's Chef de Mission at next year's Winter Games in Russia. Hay "received the unanimous backing" of the British Olympic Association's Board of Directors. He is currently the BOA's head of sport engagement. Hay succeeds former BOA CEO ANDY HUNT, who stepped away from that role in February. Hunt was Britain's chef de mission at both the 2010 Vancouver and 2012 London Games (BBC, 4/12). ... Star player SANIA MIRZA has also joined Indian Tennis Players Association as one of its vice presidents. Sania is "now one of the four vice presidents of the newly-formed body" alongside LEANDER PAES, MAHESH BHUPATHI, and SOMDEV DEVVARMAN (PTI, 4/14). ... England Golf Board Chair NIGEL EVANS has "accepted the nomination" to become president elect of England Golf in '14 with a view to becoming president in '15 (England Golf). ... MARK PHILLIPS, who spent eight years with adidas and Vauxhall Motors Head of Sponsorship CHRIS HORNBUCKEL have been added to the Professional Squash Association board of directors (PSA). ... Puma has hired adidas Greater China senior VP of sales PHILIPPE BOCQUILLON to lead its business in the country. He replaces NICOLE AU, who joined Puma in '09 after several years at French luxury group LVMH. Bocquillon will report to Puma GM in Asia Pacific and Japan LUDOVIC MANZON (Puma). ... League Championship side Leeds United has signed BRIAN MCDERMOTT to a three-year contract to manage the club. McDermott's appointment "comes only 32 days after he was sacked by Reading." McDermott replaces NEIL WARNOCK (GUARDIAN, 4/12).
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Chinese e-commerce Alibaba Group Founder JACK MA and action movie star JET LI "have joined hands to promote Tai Chi, a branch of Chinese martial arts practiced for both fitness and self-defense" (WANT CHINA TIMES, 4/14). ... Japanese figure skater MAO ASADA, the 2008 and 2010 world champion, said on Sunday that "she would retire from competition after next year's Sochi Winter Olympics" (AFP, 4/14). ... Spanish referee CARLOS VELASCO CARBALLO "has been chosen to referee the Copa del Rey final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid." The cup final "will be held at Santiago Bernabeu on May 17, with League officials confirming that the 42-year-old will be in charge for the match" (FOOTBALL ESPANA, 4/14). ... The Dutch Table Tennis Union said that Dutch table tennis player LI JIE "pulled out of the forthcoming World Table Tennis Championships in Paris due to pregnancy" (XINHUA, 4/12).
Mercedes F1 driver LEWIS HAMILTON: "I have THE best fans in the world, thank you for coming and waiting for me today. It means the world to me. Bless you"
NBC's WILL BUXTON: "Big winner for me today outside the obvious was @danielricciardo. A brilliant race after early damage. Will have impressed the bosses."
BBC presenter GARY LINEKER: "Things looking reasonable for Argentina. They've got Messi, the Pope and now possibly it's Angel's Masters"
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