China’s Xiao claims men’s floor bronze at Stuttgart Worlds

STUTTGART — After a disappointing fourth finish in all-around, China’s Xiao Ruoteng won the only medal for China on Saturday in the men’s floor exercise final here in 2019 World Gymnastics Championships.

Tumbling a Randi, 3 1/2 to barani, and double-double for the 6.2 difficulties, Xiao tried his best to win the bronze with 14.933.

“I think I did a really good job today,” said Xiao, the 2017 world All-around champion.

“It’s not easy as an all-arounder to get on to the podium for the apparatus finals, so I’m really excited and happy. Yesterday I was more nervous, but today I was here to compete with the specialists. So I was much more relaxed.”

Carlos Edriel Yulo of the Philippines, who already made history in 2018 with his bronze medal on floor, became the Philippines’ first world champion in any gymnastics discipline.

Xiao said that he noticed Yulo had made great progress in the recent years and his moves were always hard, but he was still surprised to see Yulo crowned.

“I thought Dolgopyat might be the best and I took him as the strongest competitor. Dolgopyat got a higher mark than me, which is predictable, and now I seem to have another top competitor,” Xiao said.

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Artem Dolgopyat of Israel settled for a silver and he hoped to upgrade it to gold in the future.

Simone Biles of United States kept her domination on women’s vault and defended the title with an averaging 15.399 for her Cheng vault (6.0 Difficulty) and Amanar (5.8 Difficulty) in two attempts.

Rio Olympic champion Max Whitlock of Britain won a thrilling final on pommel horse, adding his third career world title on the event following victories in 2015 and 2017.

Elsewhere, Nina Derwael of Belgium defended her title on uneven bars with 15.233. Ibrahim Colak struck gold on the rings with 14.933, to become the first Turkish world title holder in gymnastics.

China, India can continue to learn from each other

Until the advent of steamships, the fastest way to get to India from China was to go to southern India first and then proceed northward. This was because India’s long coastline is mostly in the south, and the southwest monsoon and northeast monsoon seasonal winds blow over different parts of South India, making travel possible throughout most of the year.

In addition, the Himalayas, which even today are a formidable barrier between northern India and China, were almost impenetrable during ancient times.

As President Xi Jinping prepares to visit the ancient city and modern metropolis of Chennai on southeastern India’s Coromandel Coast on Oct 11, it may come as news to many in China that Buddhism came to China not from northern India, where Siddhartha Gautama, who was called Buddha, or “enlightened one”, was born, but through southern India, because trade routes from India to China depended on “trade winds”. Many people claim that not just Buddhism, but Chinese kung fu itself was brought to China by the southern Indian monk Bodhidharma, though hard evidence is lacking.

Legend and some historical sources claim Bodhidharma was the third son of a king who gave up royal life, like Buddha, to become a monk. Even before Bodhidharma, trade between India and China was flourishing and the word cheeni for sugar in some parts of India may indicate its Chinese origins. Similarly, cotton went from India to China and led to prosperity in central China.

The Chennai area is called Tamil Nadu (Land of Tamils), and the kings from this area in ancient times not only allowed trade but often financed and participated in it. So the wealth of southern India and the southern Indian kings depended to a large extent on trade, and this made the kings and society in southern India outward-looking and more open to new ideas and technology.

This was not the case in the landlocked northern Indian plains, where the kings depended on land taxes and were mostly suspicious of trade and the outside world.

Given this schism between North and South India, it is not surprising that the “knowledge” industries predominate in South India, whereas the “heavy” industries based on coal and iron ore predominate in the North. Chinese company Huawei has a large research lab in Bangalore, not far from Chennai, and many of China’s IT companies have a presence in South India, while many of the Indian IT companies present in China in the area of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, originated in southern Indian cities.

It is therefore appropriate that a Chinese president should be visiting Chennai for the first time in modern times.

As India seeks to emulate China, at least in the economic sphere, South India may have many things to learn from China and President Xi’s visit.

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Even as early as the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), Chinese chronicles mention Huang Zhi Guo, which most historians regard as the contemporary town of Kanchipuram near Chennai.

The visit of famous Chinese Buddhist monk Xuan Zang to India for 18 years (627-645) has been well documented. Xuan Zang definitely visited Kanchipuram. He says in his notes that “the land is fertile and crops flourish” and it “is a land of treasure teeming with flowers and fruits. The climate is warm. People are brave and staunch with moral integrity. They are deep in righteousness, well learned and noble-minded.”

China and India have been trading and learning from each other for thousands of years, long before the European Renaissance. May that tradition continue as Xi visits Chennai.

The author is an entrepreneur focusing on Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Germany's Neuer vs Ter Stegen debate 'a luxury problem', says former Bayern man Altintop

Both goalkeepers are regarded as world-class but the former Turkey international feels that the current captain could be the better choice

Former Bayern Munich man Hamit Altintop has labelled the ongoing debate over who should start in goal for Germany as a ‘luxury problem’ as Marc-Andre ter Stegen continues to stake his claim to be the country’s number one shot-stopper.

Ter Stegen’s glittering performances in a Barcelona shirt have seen his stock rise in recent years and he is now widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

The 27-year-old deputised more than ably during Neuer’s long injury lay-off, too, leading many to believe that the younger of the two should have retained his spot between the sticks – Ter Stegen himself included – when the Germany captain returned.

It was a ‘tough blow’ for Ter Stegen when his compatriot slipped straight back into the starting XI and his comments regarding the situation sparked heated debate from some of the country’s more well known figures.

Altintop, however, sees the competition between the pair as a positive.

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“It’s a nice problem for Germany to have when you have goalkeepers at that level,” Altintop told Goal at Leaders Week London. “It’s a nice problem – a luxury even. Manuel Neuer is maybe the better goalkeeper but the second choice is very good too.

“It’s good if there’s a positive fight for the shirt but we must respect what Joachim Low says, he’s the manager. We have to respect his choices but the media likes to play with [the situation]. They like debate and controversy.

“I think the atmosphere in the team between the two goalkeepers is good.”

Altintop spent four years at Neuer’s current club, winning a host of honours alongside some of Bayern’s modern day icons such as Franck Ribery. 

And while the former prepares to take on a youth development role with the Turkish Football Federation, 36-year-old Ribery has already begun a new chapter of his own after joining Fiorentina.

“He’s always surprising,” Altintop said of a man in the final years of his career. “I played for four years with him and he’s a street footballer. He loves it, his passion for football is unbelievable. He has had difficult times but his love for the business of football was always intense.

“He’s more responsible now. He understands that he’s 36 and has to show a good example to the younger players around him. That’s a positive thing for him after changing teams. It’s a good motivation.

“The mentality in Italy might be slower and allow him to enjoy life but it won’t stop him working hard. He’s made some mistakes but he’s human, we all have. He has always played well and worked hard. We have to respect his career – he’s a legend.”

Another former Bundesliga man facing a different situation altogether is Mesut Ozil, who is barely being used by Arsenal boss Unai Emery despite the playmaker’s obvious talent and sizeable wage.

Ozil has a plethora of Turkish fans due to his roots and Altintop is keen to see the World Cup winner return to action sooner rather than later.

“Mesut is a good guy who has had an unbelievable career,” he said.

“He is always respectful and serious and that’s the base for a good sportsman. He’s a young man and he’s allowed to make mistakes. That’s important. 

“His current situation at Arsenal is not good but this is part of life and his career. He worked hard for 10 years for his passion so I think he will come back.”

Messi will be back for Argentina next month – Scaloni

The Barcelona star is currently sidelined through suspension and his national team coach is eagerly awaiting his return

Argentina captain Lionel Messi will make his return from suspension in November, insists head coach Lionel Scaloni.

Messi was handed a three-month ban from international football in August for accusing South America’s governing body CONMEBOL of “corruption” during the Copa America.

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After being controversially sent off in Argentina’s third-place play-off win over Chile in July, Messi did not appear to collect his medal and the five-time Ballon d’Or winner later explained that he did not want to “be part of this corruption, this lack of respect towards the whole Copa”.

Messi also blasted the officiating at the competition following Argentina’s semi-final loss to hosts Brazil, before then suggesting referees and the VAR would favour Tite’s men against Peru in the final, which the Selecao won 3-1.

The Argentina skipper has missed friendlies against Chile, Mexico and Germany, and he will sit out Sunday’s clash with Ecuador ahead of next month’s return.

Asked about Messi, Scaloni told reporters: “Messi is not here due to suspension.

“Sergio Aguero is not here because he’s been carrying a problem and has not been training 100 per cent with his club.

“Surely both will be here next month.”

Argentina are coming off a 2-2 draw away to Germany on Wednesday – a game in which Scaloni’s men overturned a two-goal deficit in the second half.

Scaloni has already named his line-up for the match against Ecuador, with Agustin Marchesin, Juan Foyth, German Pezzella, Walter Kannemann, Marcos Acuna, Nicolas Gonzalez, Rodrigo De Paul, Leandro Paredes, Lucas Ocampos, Lucas Alario and Lautaro Martinez all starting.

“The idea is to play with attacking players. With players that get to the penalty area,” Scaloni said.

“We believe that this is the right way. We take decisions thinking about what is best for the team.”

Scaloni recently hailed Paulo Dybala and Martinez as the future of the Argentina national team . 

Argentina are undefeated since their loss to Brazil in the Copa America semi-final having claimed wins over Chile and Mexico during that period. 

La Albiceleste are scheduled to take on Paraguay in a friendly next month with all eyes now set to be on whether Messi does make his national team return. 

Van der Sar: Manchester United role would interest me

The former Red Devils goalkeeper currently occupies a position at Ajax but has admitted he’d be open to returning to Old Trafford

Edwin van der Sar has admitted that he would be open to a front office role at Manchester United at some point in the future. 

Var der Sar, who is currently the CEO at Ajax, has been mentioned as a candidate for the director of football position at Old Trafford, which is still unoccupied. 

The former United goalkeeper moved to Old Trafford in 2005 and went on to win three Premier League titles with the club as well as the 2008 Champions League. 

Van der Sar retired in 2011 at age 40 and went on to a career in management, with the former Dutch international taking over as Ajax CEO in 2015. 

Though he has helped the Dutch club to a period of major success, including a league title and Champions League semi-final appearance last season, he admits that another former club still holds an appeal for him.

“Besides my family, my wife and kids and everything I have two loves in my life,” Van der Sar told Planet Futbol.

“That’s Ajax, who gave me the opportunity to develop, they scouted me, they gave me the chance to shine in the world of football.

“And the last club of my career (Manchester United) also gave me a lot of attention, recognition and everything, developed at a later stage. And of course, I’d be interested in a position.”

Though he is interested in a move back to England, the 48-year-old said he may not quite be ready to trade in the Johan Cruyff Arena for Old Trafford. 

“I need to learn a little more here [at Ajax], develop myself further and eventually let’s see what the future brings,” Van der Sar added.

“United is a fantastic club, there’s a great following all over the world. Everybody wants to play for them and eventually, work for them.”

Earlier this week Van der Sar expressed his disappointment with United’s current form, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side surprisingly in 12th place in the Premier League. 

Van der Sar suggested that the Red Devils are currently lacking the leadership they enjoyed during his time at the club. 

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Juventus star De Ligt earns Koeman backing but is urged to change his game

The defender has endured an error-strewn season to date but his international manager says small changes at club level could make the difference

Ronald Koeman has defended Matthijs de Ligt but says the Netherlands centre-back must alter his game at Juventus.

The former Ajax captain has made a stuttering start to the 2019-20 season for both club and country after joining the Serie A champions over the summer in a €75 million (£68m/$84m) deal.

De Ligt was at fault as Northern Ireland opened the scoring in their Euro 2020 qualifier against Netherlands on Thursday, with Josh Magennis beating him in the air.

It was the latest in a series of errors the 20-year-old defender has made this term, but Koeman has backed De Ligt to come good.

“It is clear that he has to make a change in the way he plays at his club,” Koeman told reporters.

“That can sometimes be at the expense of the confidence of a player, but Matthijs gets full confidence from us, and I am sure that in the end he will only get better.”

Netherlands will be without Memphis Depay when they face Belarus on Sunday, the forward having scored twice in the comeback win over Northern Ireland in Rotterdam.

“It was too great a risk to let him play,” said Koeman of Depay, who has dropped out of the squad due to a thigh issue. 

“Of course it is a shame, you always miss players like this, but luckily we have more good attackers.

“We had already made the decision to select an additional attacker. We are playing with three attackers tomorrow, and we have three behind them. That seems enough to me.”

The state of the pitch in Minsk has made headlines but Koeman is unconcerned about the Dinamo Stadion surface.

“I took a look at it, but it didn’t even bother me that much,” he added. “It didn’t matter that much that we now train on a side field.”

The Netherlands moved to the top of Group C with that win over Northern Ireland on goal difference ahead of Germany with three qualifying games remaining.

Wins over Belarus and Estonia in their remaining fixtures should be enough to secure their place at next summer’s finals, their first major international tournament since the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

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Charity bazaar celebrates 30 yrs of Sino-Singaporean ties

A charity bazaar was held Saturday at the Singaporean embassy in Beijing as part of a series of commemorative events to celebrate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and China in 2020.

2020 not only marks the 30th anniversary of Sino-Singaporean diplomatic relations, but also the year China expects to reach its national goal of completely eradicating poverty.

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To commemorate these milestones, the Singaporean embassy in Beijing and the Singapore Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China (SingCham) are working closely with the Office of the CPC Central Foreign Affairs Commission, State Council Poverty Alleviation Office; Chongqing Municipality People’s Government; and the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation to contribute to poverty alleviation efforts in Pengshui county, Chongqing municipality.

Pengshui county has a population of 700,000 and is the fifth poorest county in Chongqing (out of 38). As one way to eradicate poverty is through education and equipping the future generation with the necessary skills for development, Anzi Town Primary School became the target beneficiary of the charity event.

Anzi Town Primary School is located about 50 kilometers away from the Pengshui county New Area. As there is currently no student dormitory, 122 of the 403 students who live more than 5 km away from the school spend a fair amount of time commuting daily. Some students leave their homes as early as 6:30 am to make it to school. A good number of them also have to sacrifice extracurricular classes to make it home by the evening. Constructing a student dormitory at the school can save students’ commuting time and improve the situation greatly.

“With a student dormitory, these students will be able to stay in school during the week and focus on their studies. Education is the path to a brighter future. We hope that our concern and efforts today will be able to help many families in Pengshui county”, said Singaporean Ambassador to China Stanley Loh at the event.

Sichuan culture travels to Vienna

Sichuan province, located in Southwest China, is not only home to adorable pandas, but also the birthplace of many cultural gems. The local cuisine, opera, embroidery and social life of mahjong all demonstrate the unique charm of Sichuan culture.

On Wednesday, face-changing stunt artists together with puppetry performers and tea masters arrived in Vienna, capital city of Austria, to present these forms of traditional cultural heritage to foreign guests.