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On the surface, today was not a great day for China. Besides being stripped of a bronze medal won at the Sydney Olympics due to an underage gymnast, the Vancouver 2010 Games are over… and we’re in eight place, trailing the United States, Germany and, of course, Canada. Yet, this was one of the best Winter Olympics ever for this country.
For instance, though less than 100 Chinese people participate in the sport of curling, our red-and-gold ladies were able to rise above the odds and beat out high-profile competitors such as the United States. Coach Daniel Rafael may find his team lacking in passion, but they did manage to deliver an unprecedented bronze metal.
With 11 medals won – five gold, two silver and four bronze – China’s team defied, at the very least, Canada’s expectations.
Chris Rudge, the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Chief Executive, was reportedly surprised by such a “strong showing” from China and expected his country’s team to coast easily into first place. At Turin in 2006, Canada finished with 24 medals, trailing first-place Germany by just six. This year, Germany beat Canada in overall medal count, 30-26. Unfortunately for them both, however, the United States had 37. While Canada has always shown strong – averaging 15 medals per game since 2002 – they’ve never actually won. This is despite most of their country being frozen all year. So much for the home-team advantage.
Looking forward, China’s largest obstacle may be continuing to improve in advance of the Sochi games: it’s speculated that Wang Meng, the speed skater who won three of China’s five golds this year, may retire, preferring to quit while she’s ahead.
The best news for China may be that nearly all of the controversy surrounding the Vancouver Olympics had to do with Canada – namely criticisms RE: taxpayer expense, low-income resident displacement and embellishment as to the how “green” the games were – though we’re sure China can empathize on at least a couple of those points.