The 2016 Rio Summer Olympics marks China’s worst in 20 years. It’s also the first time since 2004 that China has finished outside of second place. Though there were hopes for a miracle comeback to overtake Great Britain, in the end those hopes went unanswered.
Before the Games, Chinese media estimated that China would win at least 30 gold medals. In the end, they fell 4 medals short of that minimum mark, winning only 26 golds. This comes after winning 51 golds in 2008 and 38 golds in 2012.
China finishes out of top two for the first time since 2004 pic.twitter.com/9lwTFAleDX
— Team China (@XHSports) August 21, 2016
Meanwhile for Great Britain, Rio has been their most successful Olympics in quite some time, winning second place for the first time in 108 years, the BBC reports. Great Britain had never won a gold medal in diving or gymnastics… until this year. When Great Britain surprisingly surpassed China in the gold medal count last week, Chinese netizens groaned about how they were losing to a country that they never had before. The century of humiliation continues.
But Britain’s accomplishments on the podium have not been without their costs. From 1996 to 2000, the United Kingom’s sport spending went from £5 million (43 million RMB) to £54 million (469 million RMB). Since 2013, Great Britain has been spending an avarge of £116 million (1 billion RMB) per year on sports.
Meanwhile, China says it’s getting over its “gold medal complex” at just the right time, becoming more focused on the athletes’ personalities rather than merely their accomplishments. Earlier today, Xinhua published an article describing how China had “charmed the world” in Rio: “It was one of the most moving moments of the Rio Olympics and it didn’t have anything to do with sporting achievement.”
Xinhua pointed to the adorable proposal from Chinese diver Qin Kai to his girlfriend and silver medalist, He Zi; mentioned Chinese badminton star Lin Dan’s bromance with his Malaysian rival Lee Chong Wei — swapping shirts with each other after the intense match; and nobody could forget Fu Yuanhui’s endearing reaction after finding out she beat her personal best. Xinhua also cited numerous other incidences, including Sun Yang’s “great sportsmanship” for not responding to Mack Horton’s insult (though Chinese netizens responded for him).
Finally, they reminded everyone that China placed second in the total medal count, gaining 70 medals, while Britain ended up with 3 less.
Unfortunately, for China, it’s the golds that matter. The golds and the shoes.
— Team China (@XHSports) August 22, 2016
By Sarah Lin