China’s Olympic Gold Rush is Crazy Intense

08.07.12 Joshua Rivera

Alright. Someone needs to say it. China, you’re doing great in these Olympics. You have been for a long time. You thoroughly out-medaled us Americans last Olympics, and at the time of this post, you’re beating us in both silver and gold medals. You’re ranked first in the world. And you’ve been in the top three for the last four Olympics. There are loads of countries that would love to have that much athletic success, and the resources to achieve it. Hats off to ya.

Now that we got that out of the way, China really ought to stop stressing over this whole Olympic thing. The country’s drive to meet or exceed the success it had in 2008 has sparked much national debate, as the Chinese press wonders if they as a nation are “overly obsessed with gold medals”

Mark McDonald of the International Herald-Tribune writes:

But the pressure on athletes and coaches is nothing new. When the Chinese high jumper Zhu Jianhua won “only” the bronze medal at the 1984 Olympics, the windows of his home were smashed by angry locals. When the splendid gymnast Li Ning failed to win a medal in 1988, after having won three golds for China in 1984, state media reported that “he was met with a tide of anger and even hate mail containing razor blades and ropes upon his arrival home.”

But things are looking up. While the country’s all-encompassing drive to net gold medals has come under even more scrutiny in light of events like the badminton scandal, there are also moments where Chinese athletes have fallen short but are still celebrated, like star hurdler Liu Xiang’s tragic injury that effectively took him out of the games, or gymnastics champ Chen Yibing, who missed scoring a gold medal by 0.1 points to Brazil’s Arthur Zanetti. “It’s still good, it’s a silver medal,” Chen told Reuters.

And he’s right. It is good.

(Photo: Nick J. Webb/flickr)