Asia leaves its mark on sports world
Among those making headlines was Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao. A hero at home, he proved this year to be the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet when he became the first man to win seven world titles in seven weight classes. His victory over Miguel Cotto in November set him up for a blockbuster showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. next year and followed up his stunning knockout in May of Ricky Hatton.
“Once again, Filipino grit and determination triumphed over great odds,” said Philippine President Gloria Arroyo’s spokesman Cerge Remonde.
Another was South Korean golfer Yang Yong-Eun, who held off a surging Tiger Woods to become Asia’s first Major winner when he won the U.S. PGA Championship. China’s Lin Dan also wrote his name in the history books when he became the first shuttler to win a third successive men’s singles title at the World Badminton Championships. China dominated the event, winning four of the five trophies at stake - men’s singles and doubles, and women’s singles and doubles.
They also retained their Surdirman Cup world badminton team championship title, crushing South Korea in the final. In the pool, China boasted a swimming world record when Olympic champion Liu Zige demolished the women’s 200m butterfly mark at the National Games in October.
It all bodes well for next November, when China hosts the Asian Games in Guangzhou. Asia is also the venue for another big sports spectacle in 2010 when the Commonwealth Games come to New Delhi. Once again, the Asia-Pacific region played host to five Formula One Grand Prix events, with a sixth added next year when South Korea joins the circuit. But Asia’s influence took a huge hit with Honda and Toyota pulling out of the sport and Japanese tire manufacturer Bridgestone also quitting. All cited the tough economic conditions.
Some of the biggest names in sport also ventured to Asia, with Woods drawing huge crowds at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai and the Australian Masters in Melbourne. AFP