Chinese satisfied with their athletes, but want less pressure
12 August 2008
BEIJING – With China leading the medals table with 10 golds on Tuesday, the host nation’s performance has been lauded by people as a source of national pride, but others blame intense pressure for some surprising defeats.
Chinese athletes have clinched golds in sports including women’s weightlifting, men’s synchronized diving, gymnastics, and remained on course for a clean sweep of diving gold.
The gold medals China’s athletes have won "basically reflect the power of the Chinese Olympic team," said an editorial on the China National Radio website.
However, the hosts were thwarted on the badminton court, with Miyuki Maeda and Satoko Suetsuna of Japan upsetting favourites Yang Wei and Zhang Jiewen.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment was Chinese shooter Du Li’s inability to win a gold again, after placing first in the Athens Olympics four years ago. She won fifth place this time.
And then there was the 101-70 victory by the US Dream Team over the Chinese basketball team led by Yao Ming on Sunday. But that was not unexpected.
Chinese media and ordinary people writing on internet chatrooms overwhelmingly expressed pride in the Chinese men’s basketball team’s performance, with all in agreement that they did well playing against a so far unbeatable team.
"They played without appearing nervous; they have shown their unique characteristics, their force," one unnamed blogger wrote online.
"They lost the game, but they did not lose as athletes. They raised their chests in front of their compatriots," another writer said.
The score gap between the US and Chinese teams – 31 points – was the narrowest in history at Olympic matches, Chinese media pointed out.
Intense pressure to do well on home turf was blamed for the stunning defeat of shooter Du and lackluster performances by some Chinese athletes.
"From the current situation, an urgent task for the Chinese team is to reduce pressure on its athletes. We should not let the athletes and coaches shoulder such heavy psychological burden, suffer such great psychological pressure," said a commentary in the state-run China.com.cn website.
"This could lead to an opposite of the desired outcome."
The Chinese men’s soccer team’s 0:2 defeat by Belgium, however, was considered inexcusable, with people commenting online about the Chinese soccer players poor performance.
The official Xinhua news agency, meanwhile, noted Asian teams’ "rare dominance" by snatching half of the gold medals on offer so far.
By the end of Monday’s competitions, 11 Asian countries and regions had seized 38 medals out of the total 108 offered, including 17 out of the 34 golds.
China and South Korea, with 9 and 4 golds respectively at the end of Monday, topped the Games’ medal tally.
India saw a historic breakthrough as 25-year-old marksman Abhinav Bindra won his country’s first ever Olympic individual gold in the men’s 10m air rifle, Xinhua pointed out.
The Beijing Games are the first Olympics in 20 years to be held Asia. Tokyo hosted the Games in 1964 and Seoul in 1988.
To some Asian leaders, the return of the international sports gala to the world’s most populous continent after such a long gap is itself already something to cheer for, Xinhua said.
But there is still rivalry among the Asian teams, despite common pride in Asians’ performance.
Xinhua highlighted its superiority over its historical rival Japan – noting that the 639-member Chinese team, the largest at the Games, have added enough gold medals to take the country’s collection of gold medals at successive summer Olympic Games, which started from Los Angeles 1984, to a total of 121, surpassing Japan’s overall collection of 116.
Xinhua cited some sports analysts saying that Asian athletes’ good performances were in part due to the schedule of the events, warning that their dominance could be short-lived as the competition of swimming and athletics, both weak sports for the Asians traditionally, will soon heat up.
[dpa / Expatica]
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