Asian superstars-A A +A
Sunday, August 12, 2012
ARE we faster, stronger, better than we used to be?”
That’s one of the class projects being assigned to some graders now. The subject is, of course, the 30th Olympiad in London.
The reference point for the assignment is the gold medals won in the last 100 years. Indeed, in the winner’s mind, second place is loser still.
In a 100-year stretch, the US still lords it over with 990 gold medals, just as it is the world leader in silvers (765.5) and bronzes (679.5).
At some distant past, the superstar quad in Olympic Games used to be the US, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Great Britain and Germany. Game after game, these countries made the sports announcers’ news predictable.
This was, of course, long before the USSR broke up into different republics, and before the reunification of Germany. Today, these new republics have competed not only against each other, but also take on the rest of the world. Easily, Russia is the best among her sister republics.
Germany was always a formidable force, with most of its winners coming from East Germany. That’s because all these athletes did was to practice at their sport and did not have to have a job to provide for their survival needs.
Since the reunification, however, the East German athletes had to do as their West German counterparts did. They had to work to survive, and to practice their sport as well. Not used to such dual challenges, the athletes fell off the tour and Germany’s gold medals slowed down.
It’s exhilarating to see the Asian representative, China, landing second to the US in the London total of medals (87 as of early yesterday to the US’s 102), as well as second in golds (38 to the US’s 44). The contentious issue of what determines the leader--the number of gold medals or the overall total--is now a foregone conclusion. Either way, the US lords it over. Besides, who remembers the silvers or even the bronzes?
The medal’s value is dominantly honorific and psychological. Both gold and silver medals actually have the same composition (made of at least 0.925 grade silver covered with six grams of pure gold). The difference: no gilding for the silver.
The US win this year should end their athletes’ protests and suspicions about the Chinese athletes doping up. If success is tied with doping, then China could as well return the accusation to the US.
To recall, the US athletes questioned the swimming record of 16-year-old Chinese athlete Ye Shiwen. To the doping charge, China’s anti-doping head, Jiang Zhixue, had found the accusation anti-Chinese or racist. He said, “We never questioned Michael Phelps when he bagged eight gold medals in Beijing… Some people are just biased.”
Superstar swimmer Phelps publicly agreed, saying that had Ye Shiwen been an American, her performance would’ve been reported differently.
Just a week ago, China was ninth place in the all-time Olympic standing. This week, it has overtaken Sweden and is now seventh place. Given China’s population, industriousness and competitiveness, the next Olympics four years from now is the great must-see.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 13, 2012.