Unfortunately, Shanghaiist didn’t make it to the actual track meet, the main attraction of which was the 110m men’s hurdles, where Liu Xiang narrowly beat out American Allen Johnson, clocking in at 13.07 to Johnson’s 13.09. You can read about some of the other results here. We heard from someone who attended that the musical performers, which included Karen Mok, Lee Hom Wang, and Macy Gray, were lackluster. We didn’t make it to the dinner afterwards either, but thanks to Aimee at Blue Frog we made it to the last stop of the night — the post party, held at the Life Hub, a shopping/entertainment complex up on Gonghe Xin Lu, near Daning Lu in Zhabei District (yes, Zhabei District). Blue Frog catered the event (and is opening a new store in the area) where Liu Xiang was presented with an award and where the other athletes got a chance to drink, dance, and let off some steam. You can check out some of our pictures from the night above.
The awards ceremony wasn’t a big deal, but it still seemed to have been managed poorly — for one, none of the people who were supposed to present or receive the awards were around. We felt bad for the host, who had to keep making excuses and do that thing that every host hates but which is an essential skill in their trade — stall for time and make jokes. Eventually, Liu Xiang came up and he seemed tired and not quite in the mood to deal with the media. When Liu Xiang smiles and rolls his eyes you get the sense that he’s not just hamming it up for the camera — he actually seemed sick of the whole charade. When a Japanese guy from the management at Nikon (who sponsored some of the events) presented Liu with a camera, Liu replied, almost sarcastically, “Didn’t they already give me one of these earlier?” He seemed anxious to get out of there, and left the building as soon as he could.
This is a reminder (as if anyone living in this country needed it) that Liu Xiang is not just a hurdler, but a phenomenon. The banners (刘翔你是最棒的/Liu Xiang, you’re the best!), the t-shirts (white Nike shirts with 12.88, Liu’s world record time, printed on them), and the endless interviews with his parents as well as gray-haired middle school teachers, and commercials everywhere — all this reminds of the analysis once done by some economists about the “Michael Jordan economy.” We heard radio shows talking about the future of Chinese track and field rehashing the tired debates about whether or not the Chinese could ever beat athletes of African heritage in short distance events, and if so, when this might come about, etc.
This same old song and dance included, to little surprise, Liu Xiang’s own pop song, the video of which you can see below. We think it’s his voice in the two verses that he seems to sing. We’re not too impressed with his “performance” in the video, not because we actually care about the music, but because we tend to forget that looking cool/hip/energetic/emotional for the camera is a skill that not everyone posseses.
The song continues the deplorable trend of putting a few random English words and phrases into Chinese songs. We wouldn’t mind it as much if the phrases seemed to logically fit in with the rest of the lyrics, or heck, if they were at least grammatically correct. The refrain is want you know, which made us wonder, if this phrase could ever make sense without a to in front of the know. Anyway, here’s the video. Expand your karaoke repertoire.