Monday, August 18, 2008

Who is Liu Xiang

What a spectacle it must be when more than 90,000 collectively let out "ahh?" in astonishment.

No, it's not opening ceremonial group exercise, it was the reaction in the Bird's Nest when it was announced Liu Xiang dropped out the race due to injury. More jaws were dropped in front of millions of TV sets in China and around the world. They had seen Liu Xiong warming up; they had seen him at the starting block, seemingly grimacing in pain. They couldn't believe the drop-out.

Several minutes later, huge crowds began to file out, leaving the stadium half empty.

The reaction immediately began. Many couldn't accept the reality how he ended competition - on the starting block, some even suggested he should complete the course, even by walking to the end line. For the conspiracy theorists, they pointed to huge commercial interests behind the decision to pull out. Liu had been the face for numerous products in China. The admirers meanwhile poured out their sympathy and support for Liu, a CCTV reporter even called the pull-out a admirable decision. One had to be puzzled what was admirable in a dropout due to injury.

The speculation centered around the nature and extent of Liu's injury, and the media coverage leading up to the drama. Earlier signs indicated he was not in good shape. He withdrew from a meet in New York in May citing hamstring injury, and alleged purposely false-started at the Prefontaine Classic. He then skipped the European circuit, and did not appear at the opening ceremony. In the meanwhile, Chinese media had been giving a different picture. He reportedly posted a good time in test-run on the track of Bird's Nest. Just several days ago, he was said to run well within 13 seconds. Only on last Saturday, his coach cautioned Liu had a symptom of inflamed Achilles tendon, in injury that was said to first occurred six years ago and suddenly reemerged prior to the competition. That would be the official injury that did Liu in on the starting block of Olympics games. The drama stunned the whole stadium and a whole nation.

Among the bickering between Liu's fans and supporters and those who cast doubt why it ended with this dramatic fashion, it's important to remember that scrutiny was an understandable reaction when so much national pride and money were tied up with Liu. Even the American reporter James Farrows had commented:"But it would be natural and human if it were something more too: perhaps better not to try at all than to be captured forever on tape coming up short. It's hard to feel sorry for someone as rich and celebrated as Liu Xiang. But you can sympathize."

What to make of the Liu Xiang drama, or tragedy? I say get over it China.

It's unnatural, or even unhealthy, to place so high expectation and pressure on one athlete. It was too high an expectation to expect ANY short distance sprinter to repeat Olympics glory of four years ago. You just have to review Olympic history to see how realistic that is.

Too much had been made out of Liu's victory in Athens four years ago. Liu, as the first top Chinese athlete in sprinting had been a symbol of athletic capacity of Chinese, and even Asians. Many even held him as a proof that Asians are no less inferior to, say blacks, in printing athleticism. Sorry to burst bubble, but 110 hurdle isn't pure speed, technique plays a big part. And so what Asians are not as gifted in short track? Difference in muscle build up has been a reality. Black athletes have been dominating short track running from forever. The U.S. has been successful in track and and field due to precisely racial diversity of population and foreign imports. There is even research that suggests Jamaica sprinters' success - see Bolt and top three finish in women's 100m - is in part because they are naturally gifted due to gene in fast switch muscle fiber. It's neither true nor fair to place ethnic theories behind one athlete.

In America, there are similarly biased sayings such as "White men can't jump". Occasionally, there are white high flying dunkers to "prove them wrong". But frankly, several example of freakish athleticism of whites and bunch of examples of freakish athleticism of blacks prove nothing, nor does it prove anything. While "White men can't jump" remains an urban mystery, nobody seems to particularly care to de-mystify it.

In a commercial, Liu Xiang beams into the camera and asks:"I am Liu Xiang, who are you?" Yes, it's important to answer that question. Who is Liu Xiang? He is still the Olympics champion in Athens, the first Asian to get a gold in short distance track and field. And he should be remembered as such, regardless of whatever drama happened in Beijing. Who are we? We are just spectators. We can cheer on and feel the pride if he wins, but to place too much significance in his victory or failure is just too much. It's just another day an athlete pulls out of competition, dramatic or not.







集体得瑟什么呢。这种得瑟四年前就开始了。刘翔在雅典的胜利被认为不仅是民族的骄傲,甚至是中国人甚至说黄种人在短跑能力上不比别人差的证明。说实话,110米栏并不是证明单纯速度的项目,它需要的除了速度还有过栏技巧。更何况一个刘翔根本不能证明或反证什么人种的差异。一个体育怪才,刘翔,相对于一些体育怪才,同场竞技的黑人兄弟们,的胜利并不能说明任何问题。美国也流行一句话,White man can't jump (白人跳不起来)。 自从黑人在NBA高跳驰骋后,这句话也多少成为城市神话。偶尔也有出个厉害的白人扣篮者,但这些个例并不足以打破神话,也没有人特别在意要去证明或反证。



6/8/08,在Eugene的Prefontaine Classic抢跑,有人称故意

Related Content of This Rocking Post

No comments:

Post a Comment