When it comes to sports, or more specifically, competitive sports, China is known for its emphasis on victory and victory only. As the old saying goes, the winner takes it all and the loser is always in the wrong (成王败寇). But three recent news have made netizens start to question such mindset – topic “Non-gold medalists are heroes, too” has stayed on Sina Weibo Top Trending Topics for two days.
Silver medalist conveniently ignored
On the first day of the 2012 London Olympics competition, a widely-circulated Weibo post went like this:
“Two same Chinese athletes went to the Olympics. Yi Siling won gold (in the women’s 10-meter air rifle) and Yu Dan won bronze. But the two received vastly different treatments. Yu Dan’s name was not on the State Council’s congratulation letter. CCTV didn’t have a single shot of Yu Dan. When the journalist finally thought of Yu Dan after interviewing Yi Siling, Yu already left, quietly. In this nation that knows no respect, nothing, other than a gold medal, is worth celebrating. Tragedy with Chinese characterisics? Worth some self-reflection.”
Ashamed to go second
After winning silver in the men’s 56kg weighlifting, Wu Jingbiao, Chinese double world champion cried and apologized for letting down his country in an interview immediately after the competition ended:
“I feel terribly guilty for disappointing my country, the Chinese weightlifting team and all the people who supported me. I really wanted to be the best but I didn’t make it. I am sorry!”
The biggest disgrace?
On Sunday, when young female athlete Zhou Jun failed all three attempts at the women’s 53-kilogram weightlifting competition, various media in China called it the a “biggest disgrace.” All three headlines below read the same “The most humiliating failure of China’s women weightlifting team.”
Chinese neizens responded to these news with furious condemnations of the distorted perceptions of competitive sports in the county and started a “Non-gold medalists are heroes too” campaign.
“It is exciting that the Chinese Olympics team is harvesting gold medals. However, let us not forget, standing besides gold, there are also silver, bronze and those who didn’t get any medal. Yu Dan and Pang Wei on the shooting range. Li Xuanxu in the swimming pool. 0.1 second? 0.1 ring? 0.1 meter? On July 30, in the men’s 56kg weighlifting, Wu Jingbiao, Chinese double world champion cried in an interview: “I feel terribly guilty for disappointing my country and the Chinese weightlifting team.” They are bits away from the gold medal, but they worked equally hard and went through the same pains of sweat and blood. They are heroes, too, even without a gold medal.”
境水渊: “It’s an achievement in itself to be able to compete in the Olympics. We want become a sports power, not a gold medal power.”
最时尚搜罗 : “The 17-years-old Zhou Jun failed 3 weightlifing attempts. Many media called it a disgrace for the Chinese women’s weightlifting team. Err…..My reaction is asking myself what I was doing at the age of 17?”
最心酸的沉默0505: “I think everybody is thinking the same in their minds – you are the greatest, regardless of medals.”
灰无辰: “Non-gold medalists are heroes, too. Those who blamed them should feel guilty. They are the true disgrace.”
九阿爹: “Sports, as something meant to be enjoyed, shouldn’t be judged by winning or not.”
Henecia_蔯小呆: “Whoever stands on the Olympics competition fields is a winner and a hero. They all worked very hard for this day.”
CICI团团: “One minute on stage costs 10 years of hard work off stage. Kudos to all participating Chinese athletes. You are great and China is proud of you all.”
友绿生活: “The gold medalists got a lot of media attention. But we really need to pay more attention to those who didn’t win the games. Their hard work deserve our attention!”
唯爱熊猫的黑眼圈: “The Olympics is not only about competing for medals. It’ about the spirits of sports. All participating athletes are heroes.”
幻想西西: “No matter you get a medal or not, you also went through pains and overcame an unbelievable amount of pressure, just like any other athletes did. All of you are our heroes. I’m proud of you.”