Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Middle Finger Salute...

BEIJING (AFP) – A Chinese speed skater has been banned from national competition for a year after he gave a "one-fingered salute" to spectators who had jeered him, according to state press. Song Xingyu, 20, stuck his middle finger up at the crowd after crossing the finish line of the 10,000m event at the National Games in northeast China on Sunday.

"I apologise to all the spectators. I shouldn't have made that gesture," Song said afterwards, according to the China Daily, although he insisted he had been provoked.

"I did it because some people attacked me verbally and abused my parents. I was furious."

Song, who finished out of the placings representing China's northeast Heilongjiang province, had directed his gesture at members of the crowd from rival Jilin province. Song's apology was not enough to save him from the wrath of China's sports administrators, who are famous for their strict discipline and harsh punishments. The Heilongjiang sports bureau banned him from training and competing for 12 months, according to the China Daily.

"During the sanction period, Song should meditate on his mistake deeply and write a self-criticism," the bureau said in a statement. Among the other Chinese athletes to have faced tough punishments in recent years was table tennis player Chen Qi, who was sent to military boot camp in 2006 after he kicked a chair during a tournament in Japan.
And in 2004, four table tennis players were kicked off the national team for dating teammates as this was seen as jeopardising preparations for the Athens Olympics.

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