Changing China

Giant on the move

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Should athletes be penalized for bad behaviour off the clock?

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nick-darcy.jpgDisgraced Australian swimmer Nick D’Arcy is fighting to save his career and Olympic dream after being banned from the Australian team over an alleged bar room bashing of fellow swimmer Simon Cowley. The 21-year-old butterfly champ has expressed regret overhis actions and promised to stay away from alcohol but it has sparked a debate about whether athletes should be penalized in the pool or on the field for bad behaviour not related to their sport. Are athletes beyond reproach?

An annual survey of sports fans conducted for Sporting News found that a majority of the 1,500 participants — 62 percent of men and 63 percent of women — completely or mostly agreed that “more and more athletes today feel like they are above the law.” About half of the 12-64 year olds polled — 52 percent of men and 49 percent of women — completely and mostly agree that “athletes are less accessible and approachable today than ever before”.

Despite the negative swing in how athletes’ behaviour is perceived, the Sporting News survey found that sports fans are spending more time and money watching sports. About a third of men, or 27 percent, will spend 32.4 hours a week either watching sport on televions, reading sports magazines or surfing sports Web sites while about 44 percent of men will spend an average of 14.8 hours a week with sports media.

“Fast-skin suits.” A swimsuit – or a performance enhancer?

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newtonj.jpgJonathon Newton, a Reuters account manager in Australia, has been a competitive swimmer for over 20 years. Last weekend, clad in one of Speedo’s newly released LZR racing suits that take at least 15 minutes to peel on, he came third in the 50 metre freestyle at the Australian Swimming Championships, but his time of 22.15 seconds was 0.13 seconds short of taking him to the Beijing Olympics. Newton, 27, talks about getting into his suit, how it affects his swimming and the debate around swimwear that boasts to improve times by up to 3 percent.

“You really need to wear socks or plastic bags over your feet to get the suit on as there is a kind of sticky rubber on the inside leg. If you’re even slightly wet it is impossible. They are not comfortable but you get used it. You don’t put the suit on until just before you go to the marshalling area and take it off straight after the race so it is on for maybe 30 minutes. You need two people to help with the zip on the back. They pack up very small — about the size of a bag of sugar — and people can’t believe you will fit into the suit when they see it packed. 

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