The King reigns: LeBron James is AP’s male athlete of decade

Los Angeles Lakers LeBron James, right, dunks against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo: AP)He left Cleveland for Miami, finally became a champion, went back to his beloved northeast Ohio, delivered on another title promise, then left for the Los Angeles Lakers and the next challenge. He played in eight straight finals. No NBA player won more games or more MVP awards over the last 10 years than he did. He started school. He married his high school sweetheart.“That’s all?” LeBron James asked, feigning disbelief.No, that’s not all. Those were just some highlights of the last 10 years. There were many more, as the man called “King” spent the last decade reigning over all others — with no signs of slowing down.James is The Associated Press male athlete of the decade, adding his name to a list that includes Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky and Arnold Palmer. He was a runaway winner in a vote of AP member sports editors and AP beat writers, easily outpacing runner-up Tom Brady of the New England Patriots.“You add another 10 years of learning and adversity, pitfalls, good, great, bad, and any smart person who wants to grow will learn from all those experiences,” James, who turns 35 Monday, told the AP. “A decade ago, I just turned 25. I’m about to be 35 and I’m just in a better (place) in my life and have a better understanding of what I want to get out of life.”Usain Bolt of Jamaica was third for dominating the sprints at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, soccer superstar Lionel Messi was fourth and Michael Phelps — the US swimmer who retired as history’s most decorated Olympian with 28 medals, 23 gold — was fifth.James was revealed as the winner Sunday, one day after Serena Williams was announced as theAP’s female athlete of the decade.In his 17th season, he’s on pace to lead the league in assists for the first time while remaining among the NBA’s scoring leaders.“When LeBron James is i...

Liverpool's 'brilliant' 2019 just a building block for Klopp

Sadio Mane (left) celebrates the only goal as Liverpool beat Wolves 1-0. (Photo: AFP)Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists the European champions must build on a "brilliant" 2019 to turn a 13-point lead at the top of the table into a first Premier League title in 30 years.Klopps men were not at their flowing best and needed the help of two VAR reviews to continue their relentless march towards the title with a 1-0 win over Wolves on Sunday.Liverpool has now won 18 of their first 19 league games of the season and lost just once in the calendar year in the league, on top of winning the Champions League, Club World Cup, and UEFA Super Cup."2019 was brilliant but it’s not important because we count seasons, not years, so the 2019/20 season is not over," said Klopp."We are halfway there, we still have 19 games to play and probably 18 or 19 of them will be like this tonight, for different reasons."Who cares about points in December? We just created a basis which we will work with from now on, that’s all."- Fuming at VAR -Wolves were angry even before the VAR controversies as the Premier League Christmas scheduling meant they traveled to Anfield just 45 hours after a thrilling 3-2 win over Manchester City.In the match, they were left fuming at the two calls that went against them in quick succession towards the end of the first half.Mane swept home his 14th goal of the season from Lallanas knockdown with his shoulder and referee Anthony Taylors initial decision was overturned.However, Wolves were unhappy that another claim for handball against Virgil van Dijk earlier in the movie was not checked.Wolves frustration was compounded in first-half stoppage time when Pedro Netos equaliser was ruled out.Jonny was adjudged to be offside by the tiniest of margins in the build-up to add to a number of Premier League goals over the past two days ruled out for the most marginal of offside calls."Anfield is amazing but t...

Japan's Kobayashi starts Four Hills defense with win

Japans Ryoyu Kobayashi started the defence of his Four Hills title with a victory in Oberstdorf. (Photo: AFP)Ryoyu Kobayashi opened up his title defence by becoming the first Japanese ski jumper to win the opening leg of the annual Four Hills competition for the second year running in Oberstdorf, Germany on Sunday.Kobayashi, 23, finished on 305.1 points ahead of local favourite Karl Geiger on 295.9 in second and Polands Dawid Kubacki on 294.7 after the two jumps.Last season Kobayashi became the first Japanese overall Four Hills winner since Kazuyoshi Funaki in 1998.The next stage of the competition takes place at Garmisch-Partenkirchen on New Years Day before moving to Innsbruck three days later and finishing in Bischofshofen on January 6.Results from the Four Hills leg at Oberstdorf:1. Ryoyu Kobayashi (JPN) 305.1 pts (138metres + 134m)2. Karl Geiger (GER) 295.9 (135m + 134m)3. Dawid Kubacki (POL) 294.7 (132m +133m)4. Stefan Kraft (AUT) 291.2 (131m + 132m)5. Piotr Zyla (POL) 281.5 (132m + 129m)6. Philipp Aschenwald (AUT) 280.3 (132.5m + 129.5m)7. Yukiya Sato (JPN) 280.1 (129.5m + 132m)8. Robert Johansson (NOR) 279.8 (134m + 130.5m)9. Domen Prevc (SLO) 279.5 (129.5m + 134m)10. Marius Lindvik (NOR) 278.5 (139m + 124.5m)Four Hills overall standings:1. Ryoyu Kobayashi (JPN) 305 points2. Karl Geiger (GER) 2963. Dawid Kubacki (POL) 2954. Stefan Kraft (AUT) 2915. Piotr Zyla (POL) 282

Saints finish 13-3 but miss out on first-round bye

New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Malcom Brown (90) and defensive tackle David Onyemata (93) celebrate Browns fumble recovery against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., December 29, 2019. (Photo: AP)It turns out 13 wins weren’t enough to earn the New Orleans Saints a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs.The runaway winners of the NFC South will have to win an extra game if they hope to reach the Super Bowl. They’ll be the No. 3 seed in the playoffs and host the Vikings next weekend in the wild-card round while the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers get a week to rest.The Saints were hoping they might get a first-round bye — or possibly even home-field advantage throughout the playoffs — after throttling the reeling Carolina Panthers 42-10 on Sunday. Instead, Saints owner Gayle Benson watched the Packers rally to beat the Lions on a set of TVs in the press box at Bank of America Stadium. Then, after the Saints returned home to Louisiana, they watched the 49ers outlast the Seahawks with a last-second goal-line stand. The Packers, 49ers, and Saints all finished 13-3, but the Saints lost out on tiebreakers.Saints coach Sean Payton said earlier Sunday he was happy with his team’s aggressive approach against Carolina even though he didn’t know how the playoff seedings would shake out.“It’s hard to play this game if you’re not emotionally and physically ready,” said Payton, who played his starters until late in the third quarter. “There are times when seeding has been established, and we’ve sat players. That’s a different picture. From the minute we got here, we handled it right. Our pregame was on point.”Drew Brees threw for 253 yards and three touchdowns, Alvin Kamara ran for two scores and A.J. Klein returned an interception for a touchdown as the Saints handed the Panthers their eighth straight loss.“You always want to be in a position where you control your own destiny,” Brees said. But he later added, ...

Lin Zhijie, the Taiwan athlete who shone in Chinese mainland

Lin Zhijie, former captain of Zhejiang Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) in action during a game. (Photo: CGTN)It isnt easy to watch a player you spent a decade rooting for exit the stage.But fans of Lin Zhijie, former captain of Zhejiang Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), had to come to terms with the fact that his time was up when the team lost to Xinjiang Flying Tigers in the April playoffs of the 2018-2019 season, marking the curtain call for Lin.Lin was already an established hero in the Super Basketball League (SBL) in Taiwan before landing on the CBA playgrounds in the Chinese mainland.Born in 1982 in Hualian County of Taiwan, Lin was gifted with incredible physical abilities. With great skills and the self-discipline to sustain them, aging did not seem to affect him much since he first joined CBA at the age of 27. But it eventually got in his way.The CBA in the middle of the 2018-2019 season ruled that "each team has only one quota to sign with players from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan." Zhejiang Lions were faced with a dilemma as they had two players from outside the mainland – 37-year-old Lin Zhijie, and 29-year-old Liu Zheng.The team renewed Lins contract when he hurt his meniscus in 2014 with a three-year offer, but not this time.A cornerstoneHaving amassed such titles as "Top Scorer", "Playoff MVP" and "Finals MVP," Lin had accomplished quite a bit in SBL before reaching new heights in CBA.The former Zhejiang Lions guard was able to contribute an average of 15.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.9 steals per game in his second season at CBA, only one year after getting used to the game rhythm there.In 2010, he was voted second place MVP for the regular season. He also won the champion of the CBA All-Star Weekend Skills Challenge twice in a row in 2010 and 2011.Humble and committed, the player was always a mentor for the younger players on the team. He worked hard to...

Chinese athletes win 43 golds in Olympic events in 2019

Liu Shiwen of China holds her trophy after winning the womens singles title at the World Table Tennis Championships in Budapest, Hungary, April 27, 2019. (Photo: CGTN)Liu Shiwen of China holds her trophy after winning the womens singles title at the World Table Tennis Championships in Budapest, Hungary, April 27, 2019.The year 2019 is coming to a close, which means that the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo is about seven months away. Over the past year, Chinese athletes have attended various competitions to prepare for the Olympics. Some of them did better than expected and some failed to meet expectations.The total number of gold medals won by Chinese athletes in major Olympic events in 2019 was 43.Table tennis, diving, weightlifting, badminton, gymnastics and shooting sports have been Chinas forte in the Olympics. The performances by the countrys athletes in world-class contests of the first three in 2019 have given China confidence for Tokyo.Chinese players won five titles at the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships in Budapest, Hungary in April. Three of them were Olympic event golds, pocketed by Ma Long (mens singles), Liu Shiwen (womens singles) and Xu Xin/Liu Shiwen (mixed doubles. Seven months later at the ITTF Team World Cup in Tokyo, Japan, both mens and womens teams of China won the championships.Chinese divers also did an impressive job. At the FINA World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju, South Korea in July, Team China won a total 12 diving golds, eight of which were in Olympic diving events: mens and womens 3-meter springboard, 10-meter platform, synchronized 3-meter springboard and synchronized 10-meter platform. Xie Siyi, Cao Yuan and Shi Tingmao won two golds each.Chinese weightlifters also sparkled by winning a record 10 titles at Olympic events at the World Weightlifting Championships in Pattaya, Thailand in September. Five went to men – Li Fabin (61kg), Chen Lijun (67kg), Shi Zhiyong (73kg), ...

Tennis champion Margaret Court hits out at transgender athletes

Former Australian tennis champion Margaret Court is now a church pastor known for her controversial views. (Photo: AFP)Australian tennis great Margaret Court has again condemned transgender athletes, while claiming the devil controlled the media and government, in fiery comments just weeks before she is honoured at the Australian Open.The 24-time Grand Slam singles winner, now a church pastor, drew fire in 2017 for saying she would avoid Qantas over the airlines support for same-sex marriage, which is now law in Australia following a referendum.She later claimed, in comments that were widely derided, that tennis was "full of lesbians" and that transgender children were the result of a Nazi-style "plot" to brainwash the minds of young people.The 77-year-old doubled down on her controversial views regarding sexuality during a sermon at her Perth church at the weekend, which came to light on Monday."Children are making the decision at seven or eight years of age to change their sex … no, just read the first two chapters of Genesis, thats all I say. Male and female," Court said in a video of the sermon."Its so wrong at that age because a lot of things are planted in this thought realm at that age, and they start to question what am I."And you know with that LGBT, theyll wish they never put the T on the end of it because, particularly in womens sports, theyre going to have so many problems."You have got young people taking hormones and having changes, by the time they are 17 they are thinking, Now Im a boy and really I was a girl. Because you know what, God made us that way."Court also highlighted the difficulty of talking about her religious beliefs, claiming "the devil" had control over the media and government."The devil gets in and the media and the political, the education, TV -- he wants to control a nation so he can affect peoples minds and ...

Dolphins shock Patriots as Chiefs win to seize first-round bye

New England quarterback Tom Brady is sacked by Miamis Trent Harris in the Dolphins upset win over the Patriots on the final day of the 2019 NFL regular season. (Photo: AFP)The Miami Dolphins stunned the New England Patriots 27-24 on Sunday, allowing the Kansas City Chiefs to seize a first-round playoff bye with a 31-21 triumph over the Los Angeles Chargers.The heavily favored Patriots loss on their home field at Gillette Stadium, coupled with the Chiefs win, means Tom Brady and the reigning Super Bowl champions will play in the wild card round for the first time since 2009."We didnt play the way we were capable of and we got beat," said a downbeat Brady, adding "too many bad mistakes" cost the Pats."Now weve got to play next week -- and weve got to play a lot better next week."The Patriots first-round opponents had yet to be decided, with two remaining playoff berths up for grabs and seedings in both the American Football Conference and National Football Conference still to be determined on the final day of the regular season.Green Bay locked up an NFC first-round bye in dramatic fashion in Detroit, where Mason Crosby kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Packers to a 23-20 victory over the lowly Lions.With quarterback Aaron Rodgers struggling, the Packers trailed by two touchdowns in the second quarter and didnt take the lead until Crosby came through.The New Orleans Saints did all they could to assure themselves of a first-round bye, crushing the Carolina Panthers 42-10.But the Packers victory left the Saints awaiting the outcome of the San Francisco-Seattle clash for the NFC West division title later Sunday, in which a win would give the 49ers the bye.- Bad pass -The Patriots, who have never won a Super Bowl without the benefit of a weeks rest in the first round, looked set to escape with a victory when James White pulled down a screen pass and ran for...

Beijing Ducks swap out Jeremy Lin for Hamilton

Injury-plagued Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) side Beijing Ducks have swapped out point guard Jeremy Lin for center Justin Hamilton ahead of schedule.File photo: CGTNA previous agreement was due to see Lin rested for January, with Hamilton and Ekpe Udoh featuring as the Ducks two overseas players for the month, but a club statement revealed that Lins rotation had been brought forward."Due to extensive injuries sustained by post players, Beijing Ducks have immediately activated Justin Hamilton for the upcoming matches. Jeremy Lins rotation has taken place ahead of schedule," read a club statement on Sunday."In the last few matches, the club has been plagued by injuries to post players, with Chang Lin and Taruike Jianiyou still not fully fit. Zhu Yanxi was also injured in the last match and had to return to Beijing for treatment, leaving the team with only youngsters in post positions," the statement added.NBA champion Lin has averaged 24.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists and two steals per game for the Ducks.The former Toronto Raptors player is expected to return to the side around Chinese New Year next January, although his rotation wont affect his appearance in the CBA All-Star Weekend on January 11 and 12, as he has been voted as one of the Northern Conference starters.

Former Olympic champions Morisue, Iwasaki to run Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay

(Photo: Xinhua)TOKYO, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- Japans former Olympic champions Shinji Morisue and Kyoko Iwasaki have been confirmed to run the Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay.Gymnast Shinji Morisue, who won one gold, one silver and one bronze at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, will carry the flame at his native city Okayama, and Iwasaki, who shocked the world at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics by winning the womens 200 meters breaststroke gold as a 14-year-old girl, will run in her home prefecture of Shizuoka."I really want to generate excitement for the Olympics from Okayama," the 62-year-old Morisue told Kyodo News.Iwasaki said, "I want to enjoy the experience for myself and carry the torch with utmost care."Marathon runner Yuko Arimori, winner of the silver medal at Barcelona 1992 and bronze in Atlanta four years later, will run the torch relay in Okayama and figure skater Daisuke Takahashi, mens bronze medallist at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, will also carry the flame.Organizers unveiled a detailed route for the relay covering all 47 Japanese prefectures earlier this month. Japans womens World Cup winning team in 2011 will open the domestic leg of the relay on March 26.

Heilongjiang sweeps women's giant slalom podium at Chinese national winter games

Skiers from northeastern Heilongjiang Province finished top three in the womens giant slalom at the Chinese national winter games in Chifeng, northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, on Saturday.Chinas Ni Yueming competes in the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships womens giant slalom in St. Moritz, Switzerland, February 16, 2017. (File photo: CGTN)The athletes from the traditional Alpine skiing national powerhouse were Ni Yueming, with a combined time of two minutes 0.79 seconds; Zhu Tianhui, 0.46 seconds behind Ni; and Kong Fanying, who trailed the winner 1.01 seconds.Ni, a member of the national team, contributed her victory to effective training overseas. "I connected well between steep slope and gentle slope today, and I managed to allow fewer errors," said Ni. "In the last few years, I have been taking trainings abroad, preparing for the 2022 Beijing Olympics, and these trainings turned out to be fruitful."In the mens competition, Akcholi Murat awarded Jilin the first national gold medal from Alpine skiing since 1979, timing an overall 2:04.70.Cong Liang from PLA was second, 0.40 seconds adrift. His teammate Gao Qun was further 0.55 seconds behind.Murat is also a beneficiary from national team experience. "On this event, confidence plays a great part. I have been trained by foreign coaches in the national team, taking in new ideas and new skills," he said, adding "The training overseas helped me improve a lot both physically and technically."

Italy's Paris racks up fourth straight Bormio downhill win

Italys Dominik Paris survived a late scare from unheralded Swiss Urs Kryenbuehl on Saturday to snatch a fourth straight mens World Cup downhill win on his home piste in Bormio, his second in 24 hours.Dominik Paris of Italy skis during the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup mens downhill in Beaver Creek, U.S., December 4, 2019. (File photo: CGTN)The 30-year-old battled the aches from his exertions of the previous day to lead the way in one minute 55.37 seconds and maintain his domination of the icy "Stelvio", despite Kryenbuehls late push which saw the Swiss finish just 0.08 seconds behind to take his first podium finish.The "Stelvio" is renowned for being one of the most technically challenging pistes, a marked ski run or path down a mountain for snow skiing, covering 3,250 meters with a drop of 1,010 meters.Defending World Cup downhill champion Beat Feuz of Switzerland had to settle for third, 0.26 seconds off the pace, for his fourth podium in as many races this season."It wasnt easy after yesterday to do another perfect run," said Paris, who moves top of the overall World Cup and downhill standings after his back-to-back wins."I was the lucky one with the wind, it was changing a bit."But conditions were perfect, better than yesterday, a little bit icier and harder."Paris has now won six times in Bormio – a record five times in the downhill and in the Super-G last season.It was the Italians 18th World Cup win, of which 14 are in the downhill, with a total of 36 podium career finishes."Im so proud to have all these titles here, I got my first win here in Bormio (in 2012) and a lot of wins now," Paris said."I have a lot of confidence on this course."

China 2020 National Winter Games: Snow football group stage wraps up


NBA fines Thunder's Schroder $25,000 for run-in with ref

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dennis Schroder has been fined $25,000 for intentionally making contact with a game official, the NBA announced on Saturday.File photoThe German player received a technical foul for the incident, which occurred with 1:20 remaining in the third quarter of Oklahoma Citys 104-102 overtime victory over the Hornets in Charlotte on Friday.Schroder, irked that officials failed to call a foul on Charlottes Cody Zeller, batted the forearm of referee CJ Washington.Schroder came off the bench to scored 24 points in the victory.

Brady, Favre, Montana, Manning among All-Time Team QBs

This Aug. 15, 1970, file photo shows Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas (19) getting off a pass as left tackle Bob Vogel (72) keeps Kansas Citys Aaron Brown away in the exhibition game at Kansas City. (Photo: AP)You have first pick for the NFL’s All-Time Team’s quarterback. The 10 possibilities are Joe Montana, Tom Brady, Johnny Unitas, Otto Graham, Sammy Baugh, John Elway, Peyton Manning, Roger Staubach, Brett Favre and Dan Marino.Have fun.Members of a special panel of 26 selected all of them for the position as part of the NFL’s celebration of its 100th season. All won league titles except Marino. All are in the Hall of Fame except Brady and Manning, who are not yet eligible.On Friday night, quarterback was the final position revealed for the All-Time Team.Although Graham actually won seven championships — four in the All-America Conference and three in the NFL — Brady owns the most in the NFL with six Super Bowl rings. He’s a four-time Super Bowl MVP and a three-time league MVP. The Patriots have won their 11th straight AFC East crown with Brady behind center. At 42, he has yet another chance at a title.“It is pretty amazing, and look at all the names and so many of the guys I looked up to over the years that were my idols and heroes,” said Brady, who grew up in Northern California rooting for Montana. “I am glad I am still doing it, too.”“Through a lot of help and a lot of support, I just learned and tried to get a little bit better and a little bit better and keep evolving.”Favre also grew up watching the NFL and idolizing another man on the All-Time Team.“When I was a little kid, I wanted to play pro football. I wanted to be Roger Staubach,” Favre said. “That is who I looked up to and who was my favorite player, and he’s still my guy. To be able to do exactly what I wanted to do and accomplish so much ... have all the passing records (when he retired)? Are you kidding me?”Favre is the only player to win three consecutive NFL MVP awards.“I never tho...

Comanche claims Sydney-Hobart yacht race victory

Comanche edged to victory in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. (Photo: AFP)Race favourite Comanche snatched victory in the gruelling Sydney-Hobart yacht race Saturday, edging InfoTrack in tricky conditions after a race that saw an ever-changing leaderboard.The maxis crew cheered and shook hands as they crossed the finish line at Hobarts Constitution Dock in 1 day, 18 hours, 30 minutes and 24 seconds.More than 150 yachts sailed from Sydney into open ocean for the 75th edition of the annual race down Australias east coast.Comanche had led after a slow start in Sydney, but the French-designed and US-built yacht pulled wide of the pack early in the race.That offered Hong Kong yacht Scallywag the lead temporarily, but Comanches proved to be a wise decision as the field struggled in soft wind.Comanche struggled for speed on the final stretch and its lead over InfoTrack narrowed to seven nautical miles toward the finish line.That meant Comanche did not come close to its winning 2017 record of 1 day 9 hours 15 minutes 24 seconds over the 628-nautical-mile course. The yacht was also the 2018 runner up.After weeks shrouded in bushfire smoke haze that forced the cancellation of the Big Boat Challenge, an event that foreshadows the Sydney-Hobart, the race began under clear blue summer skies Thursday.

Leaving it late: Shiffrin wins GS after nearly missing start

United States Mikaela Shiffrin competes in an alpine ski, womens World Cup giant slalom, in Lienz, Austria, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. (Photo: AP)Mikaela Shiffrin wrapped up an eventful return from her 11-day break from World Cup racing on Saturday, dominating a giant slalom for her 63rd career victory and moving into outright second place on the women’s winners list.After nearly arriving too late for the opening run, Shiffrin posted the fastest time in both legs to win by a big margin of 1.36 seconds.Having misread the local start time of 10:15 a.m., the American three-time overall champion was preparing for a 10:30 start.Shiffrin had to interrupt her usual warmup routines to make it to the start gate in time but made no mistake once on the course.And she doubled her advantage in the second run.After finishing, Shiffrin briefly looked up to the large video wall displaying the times, then crouched down for a few seconds, briefly pumped her fist and lay down in the snow.“It was a big fight today. It’s the way I like to ski,” Shiffrin said. “I did the very, very best that I could do. And it was some of the best GS skiing I have ever done.”Marta Bassino of Italy, who won the GS in Killington last month, finished second, while Austria’s Katharina Liensberger finished 1.82 back in third to match her career best result.The victory moved Shiffrin into outright second place on the women’s winners list. Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Proell won 62 times in the 1970s and 80s.Lindsey Vonn holds the women’s record of 82 wins.Shiffrin opted out of the Val d’Isere races last weekend after finishing a disappointing 17th in a mid-week GS in another French resort, Courchevel.The events in Val d’Isere were then canceled because of bad weather.“It sounds pretty stupid to say I lost a lot of confidence after the last year,” said Shiffrin, referring to her record-breaking season with 17 World Cup wins.“I was so mad at myself for making some of the decisions about the schedule th...

China gearing up for Olympic football qualifiers

Karimov Otabek (L) of Tajikistan competes during the match between China U22 and Tajikistan U22 at CFA Team China W.O Cup International Football Tournament in Zhuhai, south Chinas Guangdong Province, Dec. 8, 2019. (Photo: Xinhua)HAIKOU, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- Chinas U-22 national football team has assembled in the countrys southern city of Haikou to prepare for the upcoming 2020 AFC Under-23 Championship in Thailand.Head coach Hao Wei said on Friday that the players are training well and working hard.This is the teams final training camp before they head to Thailand, with the final 23-member tournament roster to be revealed in the coming days.The championship also doubles as the qualifying tournament for the 2020 Olympic Games, with the top three teams joining hosts Japan as Asias representatives in Tokyo next summer.The Thailand-based tournament sees 16 teams divided into four groups, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the knockout stage. China has been drawn into Group C along with South Korea, Iran and Uzbekistan.The AFC U-23 Championship will take place across the cities of Bangkok, Buriram and Songkhla from January 8 to 26, 2020

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