All the hype from the Chinese people supporting their Olympic athletes is undeniable — from vehemently defending Sun Yang, to fawning over Ning Zetao, to protecting their flag and praising Fu Yuanhui. But, there appears to be a major discrepancy between the current number of medals China has attained and the projected number.
On the day the Olympics began, the Global Times published an article titled “China expects 30-36 golds in Rio.”
Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs projected the medal count for Rio. They were relatively successful in predicting the 2016 Euro Cup and used “the quality of growth environments, population, previous success, and ‘host effects'” to determine the outcome. The company predicted that the US will get 45 gold medals, China will get 36 golds and Britain will get 23, Financial Times reports.
Surprisingly, Goldman Sachs predictive powers appear to have failed them. With only four days left in the competition, China has barely met half the predicted gold medal count. China is currently in third place with 17 golds, while Britain is in second with 19 golds already. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China lead the world with 51 golds. In London, they came in second with 38. Needless to say, the current results are less than satisfactory.
But great news for one former colonial power. Britain has been low-key celebrating the fact that it has passed China on the medal count for the last day or so.
Great Britain have just moved ahead of China into 2nd place on the Olympic medal table! No big deal… 🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/da0cCDpJvF
— BigSport (@BigSportGB) August 14, 2016
While Chinese media has been reliving a century of humiliation.
— Team China (@XHSports) August 16, 2016
[The tweet above originally read “You’re kidding me? The country which has never finished above China is about to” until Xinhua changed it into something more politically correct.]
Even Xinhua Sports changed its cover picture on Twitter to Usain Bolt. Apparently, there is a drastic lack of worthy domestic athletes. The 416-member delegation is the largest that China has ever sent to an Olympics, but it potentially faces the country’s worst Olympic result since 1996, when it won just 16 golds.
Traditionally, gymnastics is a field that China dominates, sending their toughest and youngest to compete. This year, they did not get a single gold medal, marking the team’s worst performance since 1984. This is partially due to the incredible dominance of the US and star athlete Simone Biles. Surprisingly, out of the 17 medals so far, 5 are from weightlifting
Though not all badminton competitions are over yet, China’s pledge to win all events in this category is not possible anymore. China’s mixed doubles teams suffered losses to Indonesia and Malaysia and were forced to settle for fighting for the bronze. Also, in a major upset last night, P. V. Sindhu, an Indian athlete, beat Wang Yihan in the quarterfinals of the women’s singles. However, China is still in contention for gold in both men and woman’s singles.
China can also earn yet another gold medal in table tennis, a sport that it dominates like no other. They are currently fighting for gold in the men’s team event, having already won 3 golds for the women’s team event, men’s singles and women’s singles.
Because of the disappointing performance of Chinese athletes, media rhetoric about the Olympics has changed. Editorial writers have suggested that China abandon its “gold medal complex” and simply cheer athletes, even if they only received silver or bronze medals. Tencent is subtly asking people to lower their expectations and also credited poor performances to injuries and old age.
The Global Times also passive aggressively criticized other countries’ lack of sportsmanship and attributed their success to the naturalization of athletes. Specifically, they called out the Qatar handball team, as well as basically every other country for taking Chinese table tennis players.
“One thing that Chinese fans can’t have issue with is that they are cheering on Chinese athletes. While many other countries are importing potential medal winners to help them get on the roster, that is not an accusation you can level at Team China,” the editorial reads. It also can’t help but mention the “Plastic Brits” of the 2012 London Olympics.
While 17 golds might not seem like much, it’s still good enough for third place. Still 4 days left to win at least 13 more medals, we’re rooting for ya Team China!
By Sarah Lin