2013: The things to watch
Updated: 2013-01-02 08:30
The world's sporting spotlight will fall on a young teenage golfer from China at Augusta in April, but an unheralded compatriot could steal the limelight this month at the Australian Open.
Teen golfer Guan Tianlang
'Linsanity' to continue with Rockets?
Miami Heat to defend the NBA title
The Miami Heat claimed their second NBA title last season, lifting LeBron James to be a real 'King'. James was named the Finals MVP and NBA MVP while winning his first championship. This season, Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis have joined the mix of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Their goal is obvious - defending the title.
A clean Tour de France in sight
Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong fell off his throne in 2012, being labeled a dope cheat, which put cycling in a serious crisis. A 1,000-page report released by the US Anti-Doping Agency in October, not only justified the stripping of Armstrong's seven Tour de France titles and a lifetime ban, but also exposed many doping secrets in professional cycling.
With Armstrong, one of cycling's greatest heroes, getting the most severe punishment, is there anyone else that will dare to challenge the anti-doping rules? The 2013 Tour de France will provide some answers.
Messi goal spree to continue?
Lionel Messi broke German legend Gerd Mueller's 40-year-old record for the most goals in a calendar year in 2012, netting 91 goals. In 2013, the 25-year-old Messi will get another chance to smash the record as he will continue to battle with Barcelona in the Spanish League, King's Cup and Champions League. Don't forget he also has games with Argentina.
Wu Di to make history at Australian Open
By winning the Asia-Pacific Australian Open wild-card playoff, Wu Di became the first Chinese man to qualify for the main draw of a Grand Slam. The 21-year-old Wu improved his ranking with a massive jump from No 421 (at the end of 2011) to his current No 183 in the past year. No matter if he wins or not, his appearance at the Australian Open, which will be held from Jan 14-27 in Melbourne, will be a milestone for China men's tennis.
Brazil World Cup ready on time?
The biggest concern for FIFA now should be whether Brazil will be ready to host the 2014 World Cup in just over 18 months' time. Anxieties remain about the Amazonia Arena in Manaus and airports including Belo Horizonte, as well the upgrading of roads and the construction of hotels. But the organizers are still confident about hosting a successful event. "In the past 40 years only the Montreal Olympics in 1976 and the Athens Olympics in 2004 still had building worries at the end. That will not happen here," said Ricardo Trade, the chief executive of Brazil's World Cup organizing committee.
Chinese National Games
By earning 38 gold medals, 27 silver and 23 bronze at the London Olympic Games, Chinese athletes achieved their best result at an overseas Olympics. Their next big battle will be on home soil - the 12th National Games, which will be held from Aug 31 to Sept 12 in Northeast China's Liaoning province. As a strong province in sport, host Liaoning will strive to top the gold medal tally for the first time, while Olympic heroes will compete for glory for their home teams. Competition will be even fiercer than at the Olympics in sports like shooting, gymnastics, diving, table tennis and badminton.
China to survive Asian Cup qualification?
China's men's soccer team will face its first test in 2015 Asian Cup qualification. In the preliminary draw, China, with Jose Antonio Camacho from Spain at the helm, landed in Group C with three-time champion Saudi Arabia, the 2007 winner Iraq and Indonesia. Two teams from each of the five, four-team groups are guaranteed of qualifying for the finals, which will be staged in Australia in January 2015, as well as the best third-place team. China will take on its first rival, Saudi Arabia, away on Feb 6. At the 2011 Asian Cup, China finished with one victory, one loss and one draw in the group stage and failed to make the top eight.