China's 5 Biggest Sports Losers in 2019

By That's, December 2, 2019

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The good, the bad and the ugly. The weird and the wacky. As is the That’s tradition, we’ve compiled our 2019 China Year in Review series. So sit back, relax and relive the highs and lows of the last 12 months.

1. China Women’s 4x100m Team


China’s first women’s 4x100m final in 22 years ended in tears at the IAAF World Championships in Doha, with quite possibly the worst baton pass (or non-pass) in history. With the team in the running for a medal going into the final leg of the relay final, Kong Lingwei failed to pass the baton to Ge Manqi in the correct zone. While every other nation was sprinting to the finish line the pair instead ran backwards to the change zone to try again. They eventually did pass the baton over to finish in 1:05:97, almost 25 seconds behind the gold medal-winning Jamaica team in 41:45. China were initially praised for going back to finish the race because the top eight teams were guaranteed a place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics next summer. But insult was added to injury when it later transpired that they were disqualified for “passing the baton outside the takeover zone,” leaving the ladies in tears on the track. Watch the shambolic performance above.

2. China Basketball at FIBA


Head of the Chinese Basketball Association and former China basketball superstar Yao Ming’s face said it all as China lost to Venezuela by a score of 72-59 to crash out of the FIBA World Cup on home soil and at the first hurdle. The result, coupled with defeat to Poland, left fans in tears and the Chinese team contesting 17-32 classification spots against Cote D’Ivoire, Nigeria and South Korea. Ah well, time to focus on qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

3. Marcello Lippi


Italian World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi said arrivederci to the China National team not once, but twice in 2019. The former Guangzhou Evergrande boss first resigned in January after China lost 3-0 to Iran in the AFC Asian Cup. Brought back in after the disastrously short reign of compatriot Fabio Cannavaro (see above), Lippi managed just four competitive games – wins against the Maldives and Guam, a draw against the Philippines and a nail-in-the-coffin 2-1 defeat to Syria. “When we encountered stronger teams like the Philippines and Syria, we could not play our own football,” Lippi said on his departure. Stronger teams like the Philippines and Syria, eh?

4. NBA


It all kicked off when Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted “improper remarks regarding Hong Kong.” In response to comments made soon after by NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Chinese broadcaster CCTV decided to temporarily suspend the broadcasts of NBA preseason games and investigate all cooperation with the NBA. A number of high profile Chinese celebrities and companies also came out in opposition to Morey’s tweet and Silver’s comments, with online stores such as and Taobao removing Houston Rockets merchandise.

5. Fabio Cannavaro


After seven years of Guangzhou Evergrande winning everything (seven Chinese Super Leagues, four Chinese Super Cups, two Chinese FA Cups and two AFC Champions Leagues), Fabio Cannavaro took over the team in 2018 and won… NOTHING. Oh well, surely the Italian would put it right in 2019. First up, he resigned as China coach after just two games in charge – losses to the mighty Thailand and Uzbekistan. He then carried that form over to Evergrande; defeat to Shanghai SIPG in the FA Cup was followed by a disastrous run of just one win in nine games that saw them knocked out of the AFC Champions League and squander a commanding CSL lead. Okay, so he managed to turn it around just in time to win the title, but he'll have owners Evergrande worried going into 2020.

For more 2019 Year in Review coverage, click here.

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