China: gold medals=a great power in sports?


“Truly Exceptional” is the term IOC honored the 2008 Beijing Olympics. At the time that Chinese people strived to impress the world with grandiose stadiums, seamless organization and the best service ever provided, the Chinese athletes didn’t disappoint the host nation with 51 gold medals, topping the table for its first time. Only 10 medals fewer than U.S, China seconds by the total medals won.

Thinking back the 1932 Los Angels Olympics when only 1 athlete from China made his appearance with no gain, no one could deny this is a historic achievement.

China maintained advantages on sports such as gymnastic, badminton, diving and Ping-pong, but also achieved ground-breaking victories on rowing, gymnastics trampoline, and fencing etc.


However, with the farewell fireworks dying down and life back to normal, more and more people begin to question whether the result could suggest China is indeed a great power in sports.

On portal website, an online voting was conducted on the topic “Is China a great power in sports?” 4730 Yes vs. 17030 No more or less proves a large part of people still thought China has a long way to go.

China’s weakness on worldwide popular sports like football and basketball is clear. We also fell behind both on tracks and swimming pool, the merely 2 bronzes got on track and field are more than embarrassing. Liu Xiang’s withdrawal from 110-metre hurdle race extinguished the last hope for a gold medal for Chinese in the spectacular National Stadium (Bird Nest).

An internet user (网易中国网友) commented on that:


Look at the true value of the gold medals we won. How many countries in the world play weight-lifting, on which we totally grabbed 8 gold medals? How many Chinese people are actually practicing weight-lifting? On the other hand, for the most basic and common sports like tracks and swimming, we have poorly performed. Have we really excelled on any game the whole world play?

In an opinion (网易特评) written directly by, the author questioned that though China won a gold medal on rowing, the playing of the game is in fact uneasy to see in daily life of Chinese.


On the lakes and rivers in China, rowing boats are hard to find. Many people don’t even know what it is. But in western countries, it is far more popular than Chinese could imagine. There in public waters and broad rivers a great many kinds of rowing boats scattered around.

However, another side of opinions thinks quite the other way.
Internet user from Zhongshan, Guangdong (网易广东中山网友) said:

有 人说我们田径不行,所以我们不是强国!那牙买加一定是强国,因为他们田径厉害。有人说我们足球不行,所以我们不是强国!那巴西一定是强国,因为他们足球厉 害。也有人说我们篮球不行,所以我们不是强国!那立陶宛一定是强国,因为他们篮球厉害!可是如果你说牙买加、巴西、立陶宛是体育强国的时候,估计人家会把 你当作疯子。我们就是强国,完全没有必要妄自菲薄!那些说自己不是强国是人,要么是别有居心,要么是自卑的民族自尊心在作怪,是对自己民族的一份不自信!

Some says we played poor on tracks so that we are not a great power in sports! Then Jamaica must be a great power because they are dazzling on the track. Some says we played poor on football so we are not a great power. Then Brazil should be a great power. And Lithuania is also a great power for its basketball. But consider that if you assert Jamaica, Brazil and Lithuania are all great powers on sports, I bet people would think you a mad man.
We are exactly a super power in sports, and we need not humiliate ourselves! For those denying our status are either with a covert intention or a self-contemptuous mind, in-confident on our nation.

石头儿 said:

我竟然在新华网上看到—— 一个世界上最荒唐的命题——-“金牌第一”不等于体育强国! 为什么当美国金牌数第一的时候说美国是体育强国?

In, I saw a most ridiculous proposition in this world—- No. 1 on gold medal doesn’t mean a great power in sports. Then why should we call U.S a great power when they topped the table?

Though defenders’ comments are inspiring, questioners refused to give up any ground. They further called in question that the number of gold medals implies a great investment on professional athletes training, but don’t necessarily mean adequate support for populace health and sports, namely enough stadiums, spaces, infrastructures built for common people.

The comment by aforementioned also states:


There are now 850,000 sporting venues in China, 1.32 billion m2 in area. It’s notable by quantity, but to the 1.3-billion population, it just means 6.58 venues for 10000 people and not much more than 1 m2 per person. It’s a 30-time margin to the developed countries where 200 venues were shared by 10000. According to a national-wide survey of 100,000 Chinese students, 66% exercised less than 1 hour every day and 24.8% basically do no exercise.

Internet user from Fuzhou (网易福建福州网友) said:


Look at the pessimistic status in quo of sports in villages. Equipments are incomplete, while the officials paid no attention. I am so clear with this as a rural teacher. In my school, sports meeting is not open for 6 years.

Internet user from Heilongjiang(易黑龙江绥化网友) said:


You’ll realize the truth when seeing so many grade-schoolers are wearing myopia glasses.

Internet user from Nanjing (网易江苏南京网友) said:


A great haul of gold medals means nothing but that China is a super power in COMPETITION. It’s not hard to choose from 1.3 billion people the best to attend the Games. Furthermore, it’s not a pleasing thing for those who lost their health in training, as they are no long practicing for joy and health, but only for competition.


So is U.S a super power in sports?

Holding that China is far from a super power in sports, most people unconsciously took U.S as an idol, for both its balance on gold, silver and bronze haul, also its populace participation in sports.

But the “idol” is quickly broken in ridicules.

In Tianya, 鎏金岁月 said:


I guess those suggesting a mass participation in sports in U.S have not really been in U.S. Once you are there you’ll find Americans much different from that depicted in Hollywood films. U.S is one of the fattest nation in the world due to their trash food. If it was really a sporting country full of sport fans, would it be possible for such an obesity rate?


  • Kai

    Correct. Just about all of them.

    Now what?

  • wei

    The correct thing to do is using this Olympics to sustain the acheivements in sports; and perhaps advocate nation wide sports programs to combat the growing obesity problems in Chinese youth and not worry about who is number one.

  • getoveryourself

    I think part of being a super power in sports has to do with continuously placing 1st 2nd 3rd or 4th…not placing one time maybe two. It also means your nations National Athem isn’t cheat lie and steal and deny when caught. We throw our athletes under the bus when they are caught or under suspicion. Oddly enough when accused they are usually guilty! Which is one of the million reasons China isn’t considered a super power of anything….except smoke and mirrors.

  • wei


    I didn’t see carl lewis under the bus:

    From an article on Lewis:

    Last year it was also revealed that Lewis had tested positive for three stimulants during the 1988 Olympic trials.

    An initial six-month suspension, which would have resulted in Lewis missing the Seoul Games, was overturned on appeal and the case was not made public at the time.

  • subjectivelistener

    hi getoveryourself

    Clearly, China has been trying to top the gold medal list and they made it. However, they never claim they want to be SUPERPOWER in either sports or politics.

    Unconsciously, people like you realize they might be the next superpower in politics. It is too hard to swallow.

    Show some self confidence, please. Your confidence level is way too low as compared to Chinese folks.

  • knights


    You need to tell your companies such as KFC, McDonalds and what not to stop expanding franchise in China, because they are killing the kids there.

  • getoveryourself

    Subject….yes they have…check out the olympic blogs or just blogs in general…knights…as opposed to the high food standards they already have??

  • so_damn_lame

    This directed at NOBODY.

    But it’s another story if the shoe fits.

    I think Chinkyland will be viewed as a legitimate SUPERPOWER once we, as a people, are too FAT, LAZY, or/and STUPID to get our arses off the couch to realize our own dreams — but instead live our lives vicariously through less lazy and more talent people.

    Yeah, we will truly be a SUPERPOWER when our desire to escape our pathetic trifling lives could foster an environment where illicit enhancements are the norm rather the exception.

    When this time comes, who cares if a couple of sacrificial lambs are thrown under the bus — because we’d be a SUPERPOWER then.

    So, dudes, if we want to a SUPERPOWER in anything other than smoke and mirrors, take a lesson from those who had already walked down that road.

    What’s more, with a few tweaks this lesson can be applied toward foreign policy as well, or politics in generally for that matter.

    All we have to do is just replace “vicariously” with “parasitically”, “desire to escape our pathetic trifling lives” with “sense of entitlement”, and “illicit enhancements” with “bullying”.

    Yeah, before we Chinkies can learn these lessons properly from the experts, all we have to comfort ourselves are just a few shiny trinkets — a paltry sum — 51, right?

  • swords

    I bet that the one who talked about obesity in America (鎏金岁月) clearly nerver went to the right places. Obesity is not the consequence of lack of sport, but only lack of exercise. If he/she ever went NYC, she would have seen executives jogging every afternoon (for instance). In the USA sports is kind of bond among students and graduates. Not everybody practice sports at a high degree, but we will find a real passion for hockey, baseball, or basketball, in a way the Chinese can never tell.

    The purpose to such discussion is to pull up China through that must-have event: a step ahead toward globalisation is never of no consequence.

  • knights

    You do the math, lack of exercise or participating in sports plus McDonalds/KFC and junk foods = obesity. . .. It’s that simple ;-)

    well getoveryouself, you really need to getoveryourself, because before McDonalds/KFC and junk foods, people were eating rice, vegatables, fish, and produce. . . now they eat less of those and more of McDonald/KFC/junkies

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