It’s a dark rainy night in Taipei and the fact that tomorrow (Thursday) will be a day off for all workers due to the incoming typhoon has motivated me enough to write this post now.
It’s only midway through the first week of the Olympics and there’re already several compelling stories like 20-year-old phenom Sun Yang being the first Chinese male swimmer to win gold, the world’s best footballing nation Spain being knocked out after just 2 group matches, and Michael Phelps’ recordbreaking medal haul, albeit in an underwhelming way so far. But not surprisingly, China has featured prominently in the news, but in a not-so-positive manner. The worst is the media circus on 16-year-old swimmer Ye Shiwen, who won the 400m individual medley in recordbreaking time. Suspicions of doping were triggered by the dominant way she won that event, especially the fact she swam the final 50 m in that race faster than male American swimmer Ryan Lochte did in his event, something which ignores that Lochte was winning by a wide margin and had no need to push himself at that point. Not surprisingly, this has roused the ire of Chinese, who see a Western anti-China bias behind this. Ye has only gone on to win a second gold and indeed, the Games authorities have confirmed that she is clean. Critics point to China’s past history of doping in swimming, which occurred in the early nineties, yet seem to have overlooked the success of other Chinese swimmers in these Games, including Sun Yang, which indicates China is becoming a more formidable swimming force.
In badminton, however, a Chinese pair, along with two South Korean and one Indonesian pair, have also made negative headlines. These four pairs were allegedly purposefully playing to lose, in order to face more favorable opponents in the next round – the Chinese wanted to lose so they wouldn’t face another Chinese pair in the next round, same with their Korean opponents; meanwhile the other Korean pair also wanted to lose so they wouldn’t face the preceding Korean duo while the same with the Indonesians. The resulting controversy has resulted in all these athletes being kicked out of the competition altogether, which is a shame. Of course, what these athletes did was disrespectful to the spectators, most of whom paid good money to attend. However, the players were all thinking ahead to the next round as they had all qualified already, and it’s not as if this strategy hasn’t been done by other athletes or teams in other sports, so it is kind of understandable. They should have still tried harder or at least not make it so obvious though.
Meanwhile Taiwan has one medal so far, in women’s weighlifting.