Athletically, it was a pretty good Olympics for China. Sure, the host country had its share of embarrassments and broken promises — smog, sham ceremonies, blocked internet access, and political repression among them — but few complained about the actual events themselves, and China’s athletes made their home citizens proud by winning the gold medal count and finishing second overall to the United States.
That’s not bad for a few decades of painstaking athletic punishment. Unfortunately, like the spouse who’s never quite satisfied, the Chinese BGOC wants even more.
China’s 51 golds at Beijing left the United States well in its wake on 36, but came mostly from its traditional power sports like gymnastics, diving and table tennis. Its track and field athletes and swimmers managed only a single gold between them, despite a state-sponsored initiative to boost medal chances in the blue-ribbon sports.
“There is still a relatively large gap between China and the best in the world in the high-profile items like athletics, swimming and cycling, and also in the popular ball sports,” Wednesday’s Beijing News quoted sports chief Liu Peng as saying. “Also, we have already mined our full potential in our strong sports at Beijing. Only through widening our gold-winning face … can we adapt to the fierce competition in future,” Liu said.
This sort of thing is especially evident in the Chinese appreciation of soccer. The nation is soccer-mad, and though it supports its national team, the team’s inability to qualify for international competitions is a constant source of anger and shame. Foreign players are much more popular than domestic ones.
For the proud Chinese government, that won’t stand. So the Chinese government will spend even more money on sports just to prove that they’re all modern and Western and just as good as everybody else, even though we already owe them like trillions of gajillions of dollars and they make everything we buy. Inferiority complex much?