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 fourth ranked baseball team in the world.
Basketball is the most popular ball sport in Taiwan by participation. 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 Taiwan Football Premier League (former Intercity Football 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.
Taiwan has a long history of strong international presence in table tennis. Chen Pao-pei was a gold medalist in the women's singles at the Asian Table Tennis Championships in 1953 and gold medalist with Chiang Tsai-yun in the 1957 women's doubles and women's team events. Lee Kuo-ting won the men's singles at the 1958 Asian Table Tennis Championships. More recently, Chuang Chih-yuan won the ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals in 2002. In 2003 he was ranked world No. 3, and he has remained in or near the top ten for over 15 years. With Chen Chien-an he won the men's doubles in 2013 at the 52nd World Table Tennis Championships. Chen Chien-an won the 2008 World Junior Table Tennis Championships in singles. Playing for Taiwan Chen Jing won a bronze medal at the 1996 Olympic Games and a silver medal at the 2000 Olympic Games. 17-year-old Lin Yun-Ju upset both reigning world champion Ma Long and world ranked No. 3 Fan Zhendong to win the 2019 men's singles in the T2 Diamond Series in Malaysia.
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.
Taiwanese tennis players have achieved notable results and rankings in the 21st century. In 2004, Lu Yen-hsun was the first player from Taiwan to break into the Top 100 of the ATP rankings. Jimmy Wang followed him in 2006, reaching No. 85. Lu peaked at No. 33 in 2010. The same year, he reached the quarterfinal of Wimbledon. Lu holds the record for the most titles in the ATP Challenger Tour, with 29 wins.
Hsieh Su-wei is Taiwan's most successful player, having been ranked inside the top 25 in singles in the WTA rankings. Hsieh has won three Grand Slam titles and a year-end championship in doubles. She won Wimbledon in 2013 and Roland Garros in 2014, as well as the 2013 WTA Tour Championships, all with Peng Shuai, and became joint No. 1 in doubles with Peng in 2014. She won her second Wimbledon doubles title at the 2019 championships with Barbora Strýcová.
The sisters Chan Yung-jan (Latisha Chan) and Chan Hao-ching are doubles specialists. They won the 2019 Toray Pan Pacific Open, beating Hsieh and her sister Hsieh Yu-chieh in the final, to record their 14th WTA tournament together. It is the second-highest number of tournament wins for a pair of sisters after the Williams sisters. Latisha Chan has won four Grand Slam titles. She won the doubles title at the 2017 US Open with Martina Hingis, and the mixed doubles at the 2018 and 2019 French Open and 2019 Wimbledon Championships, all with Ivan Dodig. She became joint No. 1 in doubles with Hingis in 2017, and returned to the top in August 2018.
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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