Yearender 2012: Asia delights in Olympic success but big names flop


Another shower of gold at the Olympics confirmed China's status as the powerhouse of Asian sport but there were few standout performances away from London for the continent's top sporting talents to crow about in 2012.

The likes of Sachin Tendulkar and the Indian cricket team, Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao and Chinese tennis player Li Na had years ranging from the mediocre to the downright awful.

There was better news in geopolitical terms when India decided to resume cricketing ties with neighbours Pakistan, while the sporting sphere avoided any serious repercussions from China's bitter territorial dispute with Japan.

Brilliant performances from swimmers Sun Yang and Ye Shiwen led the way as China won 38 golds in London to finish second on the medals table, but there was controversy as well as glory for the Chinese.

China was furious at suspicions of doping levelled at Ye, shamed by the scandal involving their badminton team and stunned by the second successive Olympic failure of hurdler Liu Xiang.

South Korea's heavy investment in Olympic success also paid healthy dividends with 13 golds and a best ever finish of fifth on the medals table, pushing them ahead of traditional middle-ranking powers Germany, France, Australia and Japan.

While the Chinese remained Olympic pacesetters, in soccer they continued their long pattern of underachievement despite the presence of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka in their domestic league.

Instead, it was their Japanese and Korean neighbours who again shared Asian bragging rights in the world's most popular sport.

Japan were in a class of their own on the international stage with a number of eye-catching performances as they moved to the brink of being the first team to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Alberto Zaccheroni's side made a major breakthrough by beating France 1-0 in a friendly in Paris and Shinji Kagawa moved to Manchester United in June.

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