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Medals a victory for China
By Alan Paul Posted Thursday, August 21, 2008 3:53 AM ET
With three days and many more gold medal rounds still to come, Chinese athletes have clearly succeeded in their well known but unspoken goal to win the most gold medals at these Games.
Heavy Lifting Over, China Is Rolling in Gold
Permalink Article Tools Sponsored By By CHRISTOPHER CLAREY Published: August 22, 2008 BEIJING
— The hurdler Liu Xiang and the basketball star Yao Ming, the Chinese athletes who symbolized these Olympics inside and outside China, will leave Beijing without a medal after Liu ended up injured and Yao’s team ended up losing in the quarterfinals.
But China, as it turns out, did not require the services of Liu or Yao to make this the country’s most successful Olympics. With 47 gold medals through Friday night, China led the gold-medal count by 16 over the United States and by 39 over Michael Phelps. The gap with the United States should narrow by Sunday night, when the Olympics conclude, but it still looks unbridgeable. China is all but certain to win gold in men’s platform diving and in men’s table tennis, and it is quite capable of winning at least one boxing gold. The round, impressive number of 50 gold medals appears quite attainable, which would be the highest tally for any nation since the Soviet Union won 55 in Seoul in 1988.
Chinese plan proves good as gold
Michaelis, USA TODAY BEIJING
— Two days before the opening ceremony, only one person was on duty inside the Chinese Olympic Committee's main press office. News journalists seeking media guides for the home team were told, "Sorry," and, "Maybe soon." That's changed now that China has won 46 events and is certain to achieve its goal of dominating the gold medal count. Visitors are welcomed, given a high-tech pen and directed toward a wall devoted to photos of the Chinese gold medalists. There, one can touch the pen to any picture and instantly hear an audio version of the champion's biography, in English or Chinese. Clearly, China knew this moment was coming but has humbly delayed declaring victory. "Not yet," Chinese Olympic Committee spokeswoman Lin Li says. "Maybe at the end."
But the U.S. Olympic Committee's top officials concede there's no realistic hope to win the gold medal count. With more than 80% of the medals awarded, the USA is second with 29 golds, and Britain is a distant third, with 17.
USOC CEO Jim Scherr says he knew the Chinese would have a significant impact on the medals race but admiringly adds, "The magnitude of the improvement has been a little bit of a surprise."
"They've broken through in some sports that we thought it would be very hard for them to win medals in," Scherr says.
For any American fan who is disturbed that the USA will fail to reap the most golds at a Summer Olympics for the first time since 1992, there's a ready-made excuse. The defeat is occurring primarily because China is overwhelmingly superior in four sports that are considered relatively minor in the USA: badminton, diving, weightlifting and table tennis.
In those sports, China holds a whopping 20-0 advantage in golds through Thursday's competitions.
That provides no solace, however, for USOC chairman Peter Ueberroth.
"We better learn how to develop real teams in ping-pong and badminton and some other sports where they dominate," Ueberroth says.
Ueberroth played a role in China's Olympic development when he was president of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Organizing Committee. Ueberroth helped persuade the Chinese to field their first Olympic team, rather than join a Soviet Union-led boycott of the Los Angeles Games.
Training pays off
Putting China's rapid rise in perspective, Ueberroth references the silver and bronze medals China won in women's beach volleyball Thursday and says, "They didn't know what the sport was 10 years ago."
Ueberroth adds that it's not just the USA that's losing ground to the Chinese: "They're taking it out of the hides of the rest of the world."
That's particularly true in men's gymnastics, in which China won one gold in Athens in 2004 but won eight in Beijing between the artistic and trampoline competitions.
"In 10 years, we have achieved what European and North American countries worked on for 40 to 50 years," boasts Hu Xinggang, coach of trampoline gold medalist Lu Chunlong.
Guo Jingjing, a double gold medalist in diving, isn't comfortable with such gloating or the perception that China has dominated the race for gold purely by virtue of its 1.3 billion population. "It's not as relaxed or as easy as you think," Guo says. "Actually, we worked very hard and trained very hard every day. We train from morning to night."
The Chinese can sweep the diving golds with a victory Saturday in the men's platform.
China's weightlifting team had one unsettling moment while winning eight golds, when 146-pound division winner Zhang Xiangxiang had a run-in with his coach after a failed lift.
"Then he slapped my face, to encourage me," Zhang says. "It got me so worked up, so I guess this method worked."
But Ueberroth contends that overall the Beijing Olympics have changed the stereotype of Chinese athletes being burdened and pressure-driven. "The thing I think you can see in the faces of Chinese athletes is they're having fun out there," Ueberroth says.
For the USA, there's still a good chance to leave Beijing with the most overall medals. The USOC traditionally has emphasized that as more important than the gold medal count; the USA held a 95-83 lead on China through Thursday.
In Athens in 2004, the USA edged China in the gold medal race 36-32 and won the total medals count, with 102 to runner-up Russia's 92.
"China clearly emphasizes gold medal production," USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel says. "No doubt they're succeeding. We emphasize total medal production."
But China seemingly could put the total medals race out of reach if it makes significant inroads in the two sports that traditionally generate the most U.S. medals: swimming and track and field.
In Beijing, U.S. swimmers won 12 golds and 31 overall medals. The Chinese had one swimming gold and six overall medals, but that's a jump from 2004, when they won two.
Says Scherr: "If they break through in those medal opportunities in track and field and swimming, where we've traditionally been dominant and relied on them for 50 to 60% of the medals for the United States team, then we'll have a much more difficult time, obviously, to maintain the total medal count."
Ueberroth is concerned there could be a wide medals gap by the time of the 2012 Olympics in London, where he expects China to be the first nation to qualify athletes in every sport.
"By the time of the London Games, there will be nothing uncontested" by the Chinese, Ueberroth says. "It's not just us; the rest of the Olympic movement needs to salute them."
Contributing: Erik Brady
Originally posted by haidian
china won gold medals tally by a huge margin,and all evidence now shows there is no age problems and ioc just said it is not likely to change anything about that.as for doping issues,better wait and see.and as for the ranking,most countries use gold comes first system,and even using 3-2-1point system,china is still the number one.so win is win,lose is lose.
15 medals isn't that huge of a margin seeing everything else the US has hauled in.