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Print Edition> Lifestyle
UPDATED: August 20, 2012 NO.34 AUGUST 23, 2012
The Sports Gala
Team China leaves the London Olympics with its best overseas performance
By Bai Shi


TAKING OVER: The mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes, waves the Olympic flag at the closing ceremony of the London Olympics on August 12 (CPF) 

Jiao Liuyang, 21, won a gold medal in women's 200-meter butterfly and also set a new Olympic record. Thus, each of China's five gold medals in swimming came with a new speed record, marking a historic milestone for the swimming team.

Though few predicted such success, the team's achievements were the result of careful planning and hard work, not luck.

Over the past 20 years, China's swimming team has put tremendous focus on training. The younger generation of Chinese athletes, most of them born after the 1990s, grew up with a good diet and received better training.

In addition to abundant funding, China has embarked on an ambitious sports development plan that utilizes foreign advantages. In recent years, more elite Chinese swimmers went abroad for training, mainly in the United States and Australia. For example, Sun trains under Australian coach Denis Cotterell twice a year. Before flying to London, he had a 70-day intensive training camp abroad. In short, years of improvement put China in a position to develop talent and produce champions in pool.

China's Olympic breakthroughs took place outside of the pool as well. For example, Xu Lijia became the first Asian to take gold in the women's laser radial sailing; Chen Ding won China's first gold medal of men's 20-km walk; and China won all five Olympic badminton titles for the first time.

In addition to the medalists, the athletes who achieved groundbreaking results without winning medals deserve equal glory and respect. Su Bingtian qualified for the semifinal of men's 100-meter sprint, marking the best score for a Chinese sprinter in Olympic history. Athletes like Su are putting China on the map in more sports each time out.

Ongoing disputes

London Olympics organizers should be recognized for their outstanding work, but some problems during the games demand attention. Controversial judging, for instance, became the biggest focus apart from competition itself in London. Regrettably, Chinese athletes once again encountered some disputed referee judgments and lost medals unexpectedly.

The Chinese women cyclists beat their German rivals in the team pursuit final, but their gold medal was relegated to second place by referees, who accused them of running out of bounds. The Chinese team reviewed video of the race and found that it didn't violate any rules. The team asked for an explanation from the International Cycling Union and the IOC, but was never given an answer.

In gymnastics, Chen Yibing won over almost the entire audience in the men's rings final with his perfect performance—except, that is, for the judges. Chen lost his much sought-after gold medal to Brazilian contender Arthur Nabarrete Zanetti. Though the veteran Chinese gymnast disagreed with the result, he showed politeness and respect on the podium. Following the rules skillfully is an important part of the game. After all, judges are prone to human error.

Biased media reports from the West also offended many Chinese fans. The most troubling attacks were directed at the young swimmer Ye after she unexpectedly won two gold medals. Some Western media and coaches reacted to her shining achievements with accusations of doping. However, official tests proved that the suspicions were groundless and false.

No matter what happens, the fair play doctrine of the Olympics needs to be upheld. By adhering to the Olympic spirit, China can win respect as well as gold medals.

Email us at: baishi@bjreview.com

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