Marathon finish for Ohno; Yao Ming’s wine; Football in India?

The Layup Drill — a NEW monthly sports column about APIs

By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly

Welcome to the inaugural edition of my API sports column, The Layup Drill. The column will run down all the happenings in the world of sports in the Asian Pacific Islander community.

Ohno runs through NYC in under 3.5 hours

Known for his speed on the ice, Apolo Anton Ohno also needed endurance to get through the 26.2-mile foot tour of the five boroughs of New York, the New York City Marathon. Prior to training for the Nov. 5 event, Ohno had never run more than 10 miles at a time.

Being the competitor that he is, he transformed his body to sustain the pounding of a marathon. Yahoo! Sports even featured Ohno’s workout regimen in its “Elite Athlete of the Week” video on its website.

Despite the fact that he was not competing for a medal, Ohno ran on behalf of the Special Olympics. His primary sponsor for the race, sandwich maker Subway, pledged to donate $26,000 ($1,000 for each mile) if he finished the race under 4 hours. The eight-time Olympic medalist came through, as he ran his first marathon in 3 hours and 25 minutes.

Ohno didn’t have a chance to prop his feet up on a couch after the marathon, as he left immediately to board a plane to shoot a movie in Hong Kong.

An Indian Football League?

The Sports Business Journal reports that a group of investors is attempting to bring American football to India.

“The Elite Football League of India” is planning a season in India in November 2012. The investors intend to bring an eight-team, NFL-style football league to the country.

There’s no word yet on whether a country that is big on cricket will embrace American football. Investors stress the fact that India’s economy and population is growing.

They say many will learn to like the game. In fact, they speculate that a league in India could grow to 52 teams by the year 2022.


This seems like an ambitious goal. There is less than a year to get sponsors, players, and fans to get excited about this. We shall see.

MMA musings

Federal Way’s Benson Henderson will face UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar in Japan in February for Edgar’s title. Henderson, who is half Korean, won his last match this past November in Anaheim, Calif., to gain the title shot.

Recently, Henderson paid a visit to an MMA gym in South Korea to train with some of the country’s top fighters. He also had the chance to take his mother, who is Korean, back home to visit with relatives, some of whom he’s never met before.

In other MMA news, UFC fighter BJ Penn is on a tour of the Philippines, and he is gaining rock star status. The Korean Hawaiian Penn held an open workout at the SM Mall of Asia to huge crowds of dedicated fans. Penn is the most recent of several stars from the world of mixed martial arts to visit the country. Penn is opening his own UFC branded gym in Hawaii and recently made an appearance on the CBS television show, “Hawaii Five-0.”

Nam Pham recently avenged a controversial loss to Leonard Garcia in the UFC. For his effort, Pham won Fight of the Night honors, which came with a $75,000 bonus.

The proud Vietnamese American’s next fight will be on the main card at UFC 141, which will take place on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas.

Pacquiao defeats Marquez in close contest

While the Philippines likes MMA, its true sports hero is Manny Pacquiao. His Nov. 12 fight was the closest contest he has had in years, as he defeated longtime rival Juan Manuel Marquez by split decision. Due to the close decision, which left many Marquez supporters angry, Pacquiao may forego a long-awaited fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. to fight Marquez for a fourth time. Mayweather has indicated that he wants a fight May 5 next year.

Will Pacquiao be that opponent? Or, will Pacquiao give Marquez another shot?

Chu bares all

Three-time Women’s Hockey Olympian Julie Chu posed nude for ESPN The Magazine’s annual body issue. The issue has sports figures from all fields of sports featured in the nude. Of course, the poses shield the most important parts from the camera. Notably, former University of Washington soccer player and goalkeeper for the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, Hope Solo, and Seattle-native Ohno also posed for the magazine.

A young golf superstar

Golfer Yani Tseng has been nominated for the U.S. Sports Academy’s Female Athlete of the Year award. This year, Tseng became the youngest person to win five major golf championships. The winners will be announced on Dec. 25. I’m crossing my fingers for her.

NBA is back!

The NBA is returning after a labor strike, which delayed the start of this season. This is good news for Golden State Warriors’ Jeremy Lin. The Taiwanese American guard from Harvard is the only Asian American playing in the NBA.

Lin remained in shape during the prolonged off-season and was even close to signing a deal to play basketball in Italy this season if the NBA remained on strike. Fortunately, the NBA strike settled and Lin can stay in the United States for fans to watch him play.

However, some NBA players who signed contracts to play basketball in China may not be so lucky. The Chinese Basketball Association has indicated that all NBA players that signed one-year contracts to play in its league will not be granted a release. Thus, players like former Franklin High School star Aaron Brooks cannot rejoin their teams this season.

Realistically, the Chinese government could go as far as to keep the NBA players in the country until the Chinese basketball season is over, to prevent them from skipping out on their obligations. Still, the NBA players are not suffering monetarily. They are being paid well in the CBA, and most have been given luxury hotels to stay in, as well as personal drivers.

Getting paid a lot of money, staying in luxury hotels, and being driven around town? Not a bad gig.

Meanwhile, Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra (a Filipino American) spent part of the off-season on a tour of the Philippines as a part of the NBA’s initiative promoting healthy lifestyles. The visit was co-sponsored by the Philippine Department of Health. Since the Heat is favored to win the NBA championship, many fans were clamoring to see the coach of LeBron James and Dwayne Wade.

Want to know what retired Houston Rocket center Yao Ming is doing nowadays? Ming is set to release his first wine in China. The wine, a 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, will be released under his name — Yao Ming by Yao Family Wines. The wine will be sourced from several Napa Valley vineyards. The wine will cost 1,775 yuan per bottle, which is $289 USD.

Riley says goodbye to FC Sounders

The FC Sounders lost defender/midfielder James Riley to the MLS Expansion draft, which landed him in Los Angeles with the Chivas USA soccer team. Although Riley spent just three seasons with the Sounders, he made an impact on the community. Riley, who is half Korean, dedicated a significant amount of time to local charitable organizations in the area, including the Korean American Coalition. (end)

Jason Cruz can be reached at

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One Response to “Marathon finish for Ohno; Yao Ming’s wine; Football in India?”

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