Sports in Taiwan
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Sports are a popular recreation activity in Taiwan. Some of the most common sports include basketball, baseball, football, badminton and softball. Martial arts such as t'ai chi ch'uan and taekwondo are also practiced by many people. International-known athletes include Yang Chuan-kwang, Chi Cheng, and Yani Tseng among others.
Due to political reasons and pressures from the People's Republic of China, the organisations or national teams from Taiwan have been competing as Chinese Taipei in international sporting events, such as the Olympic Games.
Taiwan already had its first baseball team in 1906, during the period of Japanese rule. Only the Japanese played baseball initially, but gradually more and more Taiwanese players joined. In 1931, the Kagi Agricultural and Forestry School (now National Chiayi University) baseball team won second place in the 17th Japanese High School Baseball Championship (Summer Koshien), which shocked the whole of Japan. Since then, a number of Taiwanese baseball players have joined Japanese professional baseball teams. A notable example is, Shosei Go (Wú Chāngzhēng), nicknamed "The Human Locomotive", whose mastery of both pitching and batting won him election to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995 after his retirement.
After World War II in 1945, baseball remained popular in Taiwan. In 1968, Red Leaves from the remote mountainous area in Taitung County defeated the visiting all-star little-league team from Japan, touching off a "little-league baseball craze" in Taiwan. The following year, Golden Dragon little-league baseball team, an all-star team, participated in Little League World Series for the first time and won the championship, which launched the "golden age" of Taiwan's "three youth level baseball" program comprising the little league, senior league, and big league.  With regard to little league baseball, Taiwan has won 15 championships from 1969 to 1991. For senior league baseball, Taiwan joined in Senior League World Series held by Little League Baseball at Gary, Indiana in 1972, and won the championship in that inaugural effort. Within 20 years, Taiwan has won 17 championships as of 1991. For big league baseball, Taiwan began entering the Big League World Series held by Little League Baseball at Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1974, and won 13 championships within 18 years (until 1991).
The professional baseball league is the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL), and the main playoff competition is the Taiwan Series. Taiwan has been "exporting" baseball talents to Japan and United States over the past few decades, such as Tai-Yuan Kuo (Taigen Kaku) to the Seibu Lions, Chien-Ming Wang to the New York Yankees/Washington Nationals, and Wei-Yin Chen to the Baltimore Orioles. The Chinese Taipei baseball team is currently the sixth ranked baseball team in the world.
Basketball is the most popular ball sport in Taiwan that people actually play. The men's and women's basketball leagues are the Super Basketball League (SBL) and the Women's Super Basketball League (WSBL), respectively. The Chinese Taipei men's national basketball team won the silver medal at the Asian Championship in 1960 and 1963 and bronze in 1973 and 1989. The Chinese Taipei women's national basketball team won the silver medal at the 1972 Asian Basketball Championship for Women. The team won bronze at the event in 1965, 1968, 1970, 1974, 1986, 1988, 1999 and 2005. Further, the women's team won silver at the 2006 Asian Games.
Due to Japanese (long before the J. League made football popular in Japan) and American influence, football has not been as popular as baseball or basketball in Taiwan, although it has a history of success at the Asian level. Football is run by the Chinese Taipei Football Association (CTFA), which in turn runs the national teams for men and women and several domestic competitions.
The top league of football, the Intercity Football League (now Taiwan Football Premier League), is relatively semi-professional and dominated by two teams, Tatung F.C. from Taipei and Taipower F.C. from Kaohsiung. As an incentive, the Asian Football Confederation runs the AFC President's Cup continental club competition for countries where football is relatively undeveloped, and these two clubs often take turns representing Taiwan in it.
There are many amateur football clubs run by foreign expatriates within Taiwan, but they run their own amateur competitions. An example is 100 Pacers F.C. in Kaohsiung. At youth level, there are Highschool Football League, National Youth Cup, and football program in the National High School Games.
Rugby union has had some presence in Taiwan for most of the post war period. The national sevens team has been particularly successful.
Starting from 2004, Chinese Taipei Volleyball Association holds the Enterprise Volleyball League every year. It is a men's amateur volleyball league. In total 4 teams participated in the 2008 seasonhe Chinese Taipei women's national volleyball team is the women's national volleyball team of Republic of China (Taiwan). (See Chinese Taipei for team naming issue) Controlled by Chinese Taipei Volleyball Association, it represents the country in international competitions and friendly matchesfter 16 years since 1990, Chinese Taipei women's national volleyball team re-entered FIVB Women's World Championship in 2006. To everyone's surprise, the 23-ranked team gained their first-ever victory over the host Japan (7th) on the opening day, followed by defeated South Korea (8th), Poland (9th), Kenya (11th), and Costa Rica (33rd) in the first round. However, after a good start of five consecutive victories, the team could not continue their impressing form and eventually took the 12th placeIn December, the same squad attended the 2006 Asian Games held in Doha, Qatar. Although the team lost to South Korea and China in the preliminary round, they later beat Kazakhstan and Thailand and won the bronze medal, the first ever medal in women's volleyball at Asian Games.
Taiwanese competitors regularly participate in archery tournaments, occasionally winning medals in major sport events. The Taiwanese archery team is also one of the top teams in the world. South Korea’s archery queens assumed their traditional place at the top of the ranking round for the London Games on Friday, but the US pushed them close and may feel this is the year to end the Asian powerhouse’s Olympic dominance, while Taiwan was ranked third. Hours after South Korea’s men set individual and world records in the 72 arrow ranking round, Ki Bo-bae, Lee Sung-jin and Choi Hyeon-ju posted 1,993 points out of a possible 2,160. Each arrow can score a maximum of 10 points for hitting the center of a target 70m away. Ki and Lee both shot 671, as did Taiwan’s Tan Ya-ting, while the US’ Khatuna Lorig shot 669 in fourth. The scores gave South Korea the top team ranking, followed by the US, Taiwan and Mexico.
Over the years, Badminton has also started gaining popularity with the general public. The rise of Taiwanese badminton players such as world no.1 Tai Tzu-ying, Chou Tien-chen, and Wang Tzu-wei in the BWF world rankings helped spur interest in the sport and contributed to the surge in popularity.
Since Badminton does not require very expensive equipment and is relatively simple to play, many Taiwanese also enjoy playing Badminton as a recreational sport or as an extra-curricular activity.
Riding a bicycle around the island of Taiwan is popular in Taiwanese culture.
Many Taiwanese people play table tennis because it does not require a lot of strength and space. The competitions, however, are not watched by many, because the speed and complex technique is difficult for average audiences to follow. Chuang Chih-Yuan, Taiwan´s top star, who has been situated both close to and inside the top ten for over a decade, won the Men´s Doubles gold medal, the first ever in the 87-year history of table tennis in Taiwan, alongside the former Junior World Champion, Chen Chien-An. Chuang was absolutely overjoyed at their success: „This victory means a great deal to our nation. I sincerely hope that this will be a boost to table tennis in Taiwan”.
Golf was introduced during the Japanese colonial period, with the first golf club opening in 1919. In 1982, Chen Tze-chung became the first professional golfer from Taiwan to earn a PGA Tour card. After a period of decline, Golf has become increasingly popular in Taiwan. Yani Tseng (曾雅妮) was the 2008 LPGA Rookie of the Year. She is the youngest player to win five major golf championships —either men's majors or women's majors— and is ranked number 1 in the Women's World Golf Rankings in 2011-2012.
The Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship is an LPGA Tour tournament since 2011, and the Taiwan Masters and Yeangder Tournament Players Championship are part of the Asian Tour since 2000 and 2010 respectively. Previously, European Tour's BMW Asian Open was held in Taiwan in 2001 and 2002.
Marathon races are held in many places in Taiwan each year. Many marathoners from all over the world participate in these races. In the 2007 Carrefour Taipei International Expressway Marathon, African runners dominated both men and women divisions.
In recent years, both male and female tennis players from Taiwan have gotten solid results and rankings. Lu Yen-hsun (盧彥勳) and Jimmy Wang (王宇佐) have been ranked in the Top 100 (Lu's highest rank is no. 33 in July 2010, and Wang's was 85 in March 2006). Both of them set records for Taiwanese tennis history in singles. Notable female tennis players include Chan Yung-jan (詹詠然), Chan Hao-ching (詹皓晴), Chuang Chia-jung (莊佳容), Hsieh Su-wei (謝淑薇), and Wang Shi-ting (王思婷). Hsieh was ranked No. 1 in 2014 (doubles) and No. 23 in 2013 (singles).
Chan Yung-jan (詹詠然) and Hsieh Su-wei (謝淑薇) are the only Taiwanese players who have won a Grand Slam, with two apiece. Chan Yung-jan has one doubles title (2017 US Open) and one mixed doubles title (2018 Australian Open). Hsieh Su-wei has two doubles titles with partner Peng Shuai (2013 Wimbledon Championships, 2014 French Open).
Taiwanese competitors regularly participate in Taekwondo tournaments from Asian Games to the Olympics. In 2004 Summer Olympics, Chen Shih-hsin (陳詩欣) and Chu Mu-yen (朱木炎) won the first two Gold Medals for Taiwan.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sports in Taiwan.|
- Sports Affairs Council, Executive Yuan
- Taiwan’s First Sport in its Second Century: Baseball in Taiwanese Culture (in English)
- High flying hoop dreams: A brief history of the development of basketball in Taiwan (in English)