Friday, August 15, 2008

Grab Them Golds

A quick look at the medal count standing, you find leading countries are United States, China, Australia, France, Russia, South Korea, Germany, Japan, Britain, and Italy rounding out the top 10, with the first two in a pack of significant margin. Ladies and gentleman, that's almost your list of G-8 with China as 'guest observer", with Aussies of Commonwealth standing in for their Canadian brethren thanks to their performance in the pool. Only the Koreans are not economically or politically as influential. Conspicuously missing are India and Brazil, two important emerging markets in the BRIC block that many thought of being on the short watch list of G8 expansion.

Some "angry elitist" in China have vehemently protested that the medals had little to do with them so they could hardly got into the spirit of the Games, except...venting. As far as netizens go, the western press talked about "angry youth", a name implying overt nationalism, they missed the other part of the story: for every radical nationalist there seemed to be an equally radical bunch who took the baton from whatever was criticized of China from the West and took it to another extreme level. The Chinese mockingly called them, most of whom never set a foot in the outside world, jingying - or "elite".

The criticizers pointed out that medals are worthless, because they were not representative of how athletic or fit the Chinese were. They had a point. But these games were never meant to be a gauge on how athletic or fit a nation was. Otherwise, Finland should have won the gold of fittest nation, with Canada not far behind. The leading country in medal count, the United States, is also the world's leading country in obesity. The Michel Phelps and Usain Bolts of the world are never meant to represent mere mortals like us, or even whether a sport is practice by the people. They are what they are, games, and competitions.

A member of Canadian Olympic committee was outlining the strategy to improve Canada's medal counts: ID talent, get them into the "system", etc etc, as I typed. Whatever "system" those athletes are in, those games are not only for the national glory, it's also about pushing personal limit, achieving the best. How can anyone not be touched and emboldened by those marathon women filing in the stadium after running 26 miles, battling extreme fatigue? "You not only became a champion," the person in the TV said, "but also found a better self."


TV Scene one: Tennis, women's single semifinal. The crowd was raucus. Loud chants of "China Jiayou" and "Lina Jiayou" can be heard between plays, sometimes even before the play was over. Some Russian accented "Sa-fi-na~" could be heard streaking out too. Given the atmasphere of the Olympics, tameness wasn't bo be expected, but this crowd was clearly not of your typical French Open. Safina stringed a couple double faults. Maybe the crowd noise was getting to her a little bit, but she kept her cool. Then, Li na charged to hit a overhead. The collective "woo" in anticipation could be heard from crowd. Out of bounds! Li Na was noticablly annoyed, she turned her head to the crowd and cursed out a grumbled "shut up". The crowd went dead. Lest she forgot, she proved she was a member of the crowd too.

TV scene two: Rowlling, women's double skull. CCTV camera was focusing on the Chinese pair who was targeted as haing "gold potential". Cameras were so busy chasing gold potential events that an earlier pair event didn't got broadcasted live. Minutes later, the Chinese got only to the fourth. The ancor in the studio annouced:" It's regretful, but it's O.K., actually China won a silver unexpectedly in an earlier rowlling event." The tape began to roll. No embarrassed TV crew faces could be seen on screen.

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