By JFK Miller
Of course! Xinhua has already called it for the home team (on Christmas Day, in fact):
“China is widely expected to beat the United States and Russia to top the medal standings of the 2008 Olympic Games.”
Sportswriter Zhang Rongfeng reckons China has the following golds in the bag:
Table tennis: 4; Badminton: 4 or 5; Diving: 6, maybe more; Gymnastics: 6.
Not sure where the rest are coming from.
This Xinhua report has Russia winning up to 40 golds:
“MOSCOW. Jan. 18 (Xinhua) — Russia could win 38 to 40 gold medals and place third at the Olympic Games in Beijing, head of the Russian sports bureau Vyacheslav Fetisov said on Friday. “Analysis to the situation in the sport area, trends and prospects for the development of the Olympic movement show that Russia, the United States and China will compete for the top places at the 2008 Games,” [said] Fetisov.”
Thank you, Vyacheslav, for that intriguing insight. Though it’s not half as bad as this one from Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics:
“There is a tremendous interest and fascination with China, which is opening its doors to the world for the first time,” Mr. Ebersol said.”
Where have you been for the last 30 years, Dick?
He’s right about one thing, though:
“China has worked very hard to be ready and is in a position that no country in two decades has been able to accomplish: challenge the U.S. for gold medal supremacy. The U.S. has not had a meaningful rivalry in the games since the Wall fell in 1989 and ended the cold war Olympic competition. That competition with them [China] will bring a new dimension back to the Games.”
Pity about the Wall. The USSR did so very well in Seoul in ’88 (where it came top), and again in Barcelona in ’92 (where it came top again) when the ex-USSR countries combined to form the “Unified Team.” It was only in Atlanta in ’96 when Russia (now in a lonely orbit with no satellites) started to slip.
Here’s a breakdown of China’s Olympic track record since rejoining the Summer Olympic community in Los Angeles in ’84. We’re posting if only to disprove Pierre de Coubertin’s brotherhood-of-man statement that what counts is “not the winning but the taking part.”