Chinese athletes have flopped at the Rio Olympics! Oh, I’m sorry, does that sound harsh? Well, yeah, it actually kind of does. And it wasn’t me who said that. It was China’s state-run Xinhua news.
And that picture is Chinese gymnast You Hao “flopping” at the men’s parallel bars final on Tuesday night.
Now this is not what China had planned. The Chinese Communist Party recruits thousands of children to train for their entire lives to win Olympic Gold. But the important thing about this massive sports system is that…it works! In the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, China won 51 gold medals. So it didn’t seem like a stretch that party mouthpiece Global Times ran this spread, predicting 30-36 gold medals, before the Rio Olympics.
Except that didn’t happen.
Here’s another Xinhua sports tweet, that they later deleted, for some reason.
They’re…not too happy the Brits have outdone them. The final Olympic tally was US 46 gold medals, UK 27, and China 26. That’s a far cry from expectations. And, coincidentally, Chinese media have suddenly shifted their tone away from valuing Olympic gold above all else.
China Central Television ran a story called “When we are no longer obsessed with gold medals.” It said, “we will be able to openly applaud our rivals to reflect our great country’s confidence and tolerance.” I…actually kind of agree with that? A Global Times piece talked about how the burden of Olympic medals was “unfair” to athletes.
I…also agree with that.
And another Global Times piece says the public doesn’t really care about gold medals because fitness is more important.
I mean, it’s hard to disagree with that. What’s going on here?!
One expert interviewed said that “As China grown from a backward country to become the world’s second largest economy, its people no longer need to use sporting prowess as a means to boost national confidence.” Oh, ok. Well, as an American, representing the world’s largest economy, all I have to say is…46 gold! BOOYAH!!! Ohh, mmm, sporting prowess is boosting my national confidence!
In all seriousness, it’s great that Chinese media isn’t going all Tiger Mom on their Olympic athletes anymore. I mean, that’s the kind of attitude that leads to this. Yeah, what a national disappointment! He got silver.
Compare that four years ago to one of the breakout stars of Rio–Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui. Here’s her reaction to placing third in the 100-meter backstroke semifinals. In the end, she tied for the bronze medal and won the hearts of the Internet forever. At least when it comes to Internet memes, she won gold.
There are 206 countries or regions competing in the Rio Olympics. And Chinese athletes won the third most gold medals. Chinese athletes have done incredibly well. That…is something to celebrate. And I’m happy to say that as a reflection of my great show’s confidence and tolerance.
So what do you think of how China’s state-run media are treating the Olympics? Leave your comments below.