Saturday, August 9, 2008

Let the Games Begin

This morning there is finally some rain which will cool things off.

Yesterday was very humid, which made it very difficult for the riders in the men's cycling road race.

I watched the animation on TV of the route the cyclists had to go through and just watching the line snake along the route that seemed to never end made me tired.

It went through the city and then up into the mountains at the Great Wall and partially back. Imagine all that climbing up the hill. And that combined with the humidity would have been punishing.

But Samuel Sanchez of Spain clinched gold at 6:23:49. Italian Davide Rebellin came second, and Swiss Fabian Cancellara won bronze.

In Tianjin, the women's football preliminaries were underway and China and Canada came to a 1-1 draw. There were 60,000 in the Tianjin Olympic Center Stadium shouting "Zhongguo jia you" trying to encourage the "steel roses" to keep going, but it wasn't enough to win the game.

Eight years ago China began Project 119, the number of medals it wanted to win to topple the United States. The target has since increased to 122.

The pressure on Chinese athletes to exceed expectations is so great, especially on home turf that for many of them it will be more mind over matter.

What if hurdler Liu Xiang loses to Dayron Robles?

How will the country react?

Already there is talk of softening the blow, that it's about participating in the sport than winning medals.

But already it's been drummed into people's heads that only gold, silver and bronze are the most important things and not the celebration of sport and personal achievement.

Few Chinese realize or understand the sacrifices these athletes go through on a daily basis.

If China doesn't make its goal, many are going to question the financial cost of the Games and the justification of all the sacrifices people have had to make for the sake of the Olympics.

The soul searching begins.


ks said...

for over a century china has bee called 'the sick man of asia' . we have to pay whatever price to erase this stigma forever.

Anonymous said...

There is a saying on performing arts, sports or any achievement to the effect that for a 10 minutes performace it will take 10 years of training. The monetary rewards to the athletes is entirely justified. They galvanise the spirit of the whole nation and that is priceless.