Sporting year in review 2018

Year in review: what were the top 10 SCMP Sport stories of 2018? Well, you might be surprised

  • A diverse selection of stories made the top 10 of SCMP Sport’s most popular articles this year
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 December, 2018, 3:01pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 December, 2018, 3:01pm

It’s the time of the year when we look back fondly at 2018 and reflect on what were the biggest stories of the year.

Sometimes we’re left scratching our heads at what eventually comes to constitute a “big story” in terms of pure clicks on scmp.com. Other years, it’s a little more obvious why a story is so popular with our readers.

The number bods at SCMP Towers have been at it again and came up with a list of the most clicked SCMP Sport stories of 2018.

This year, like any other, we were able to predict the brunt of the top 10, but like many years before it there were a few on the list that we never would have expected.

10. Typhoon Mangkhut floods Kitchee training centre and Siu Sai Wan stadium

Back in September, Typhoon Mangkhut ravaged its way through the city and badly damaged a number of Hong Kong’s most important sporting venues, among other locations. Like anything Mangkhut, interest was international. But the damage it wrought on Kitchee’s training centre was of particular interest to many.

9. From watching Bruce Lee movies to winning wing chun gold

This story from May featured Hong Kong Olympic swimmer Yvette Kong Man-yi and her involvement with Chinese martial arts. In an exclusive interview, the four-time Hong Kong swimming record holder told our Chan Kin-wa that she was inspired to take up wing chun after watching Bruce Lee movies. Martial Arts was set to play a big role on this year’s top 10 list ...

8. CrossFit Games bans 14 athletes for drugs violation

Another surprisingly popular topic in 2018 was CrossFit, but then with so many fitness fanatics running about our streets and hills, it should come as little surprise that our readers were bang into people who keep fit competitively. This story about organisers coming down hard on drug cheats was a big hit.

7. Chinese kick-boxer knocks out tai chi master with one punch

It seems our readers have a particular place in their stone-cold hearts for epic martial arts failures, so eternally popular are tales of traditional fight styles’ woe against all-action modern mixed martial arts. The story of tai chi practitioner Zhu Chunping’s very dramatic, and equally as swift, chastening at the hands of 22-year-old kickboxer Yao Hantian continued this trend.

6. Controversy at HK100 trail run as record-setting winner disqualified

It’s an upsetting but inevitable side effect that the uptick in popularity of trail running and endurance racing means that there’s also a proliferation in the cases of people ... ahem ... bending the rules, however minor the infraction. One such story from way back in January this year featured Chinese racer Liang Jing who was controversially disqualified after accepting water from a passing hiker. It was the discarding of the plastic bottle atop one of Hong Kong’s most popular hiking spots that drew ire – and exclusion – upon Liang.

5. ‘Scariest man on the planet’ could make MMA debut

Our man Nicolas Atkin seemed to capture the imagination of our readers back in November when he posited the potential for a MMA super-bout between the “scariest man on the planet” and the “Iranian Hulk”. Yup, we know, irresistable, right? Nothing concrete on the match-up yet, but it didn’t stop our readers clicking and sharing the story in their droves.

4. Floyd Mayweather mocks Japanese culture by backing out of Tenshin Nasukawa fight

Floyd Mayweather is never far from the headlines, even in “retirement”. Several times this year, we saw a traffic spike when Floyd opened his mouth, not least when he was in Hong Kong in September. But our biggest “Money” story of the year was around the will he/won’t he saga of his New Year’s Eve fight against Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in Tokyo. Nicolas Atkin penned this rather curt rebuke to the unbeaten boxing champion over the disrespect he was showing his young opponent, and Japanese culture by extension. This is the first opinion piece on our top 10 list, but it isn’t the last ...

3. Sun Yang, Jordan Clarkson and others help Indonesia stage the best Asian Games ever

After the incredible success that was the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, Nazvi Careem (who has attended one or two Asiads during his illustrious [and long] career) penned this emotional tribute to the organisers, athletes and volunteers who worked so hard to provide one of the most exciting, fun and spectacular Asian Games ever. Our readers loved it and read en masse. There was also an unusual spike in web traffic from Indonesia, too – can’t imagine why.

2. Chinese MMA fighter, who pummels martial arts masters, vows to expose kung fu fakery

We mentioned earlier about the apparent delight our readers took in reading about traditional martial arts “fakers” being served their comeuppance, and this story about MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong taking apart tai chi master Wei Lei in double-quick time (with accompanying video footage) being our second biggest story of 2018, is perhaps proof of that theory. Hugely entertaining, though.

1. Martial arts legend Jet Li battles illness and injuries as fans express shock

Which brings us neatly to the biggest sport story of 2018 on scmp.com, and it’s another martial arts-related piece. Perhaps he’s better known for his acting career, but before Hollywood came calling, Jet Li was a talented wushu practitioner in Beijing and won a hatful of medals at the Chinese Wushu Championships as a youngster. Big-screen stardom quickly called on the back of his early success and Li became a global star.

Unus Alladin was on hand to break the story of the star’s struggles with hyperthyroidism back in May. The story went viral across the globe and was comfortably our biggest of 2018.