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Cheer on all those who compete
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17:25, August 18, 2008

A philosopher used to say that life will be an empty laugh braying across the universe without dreams and longings. The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games have so far witnessed many heart-stirring moments when people's dreams come true and many heart-breaking events in which people's dreams just "slipped out of their hands."

Michael Phelps, an American swimmer who has these days gained stratospheric popularity in the Water Cube and inspired people all across the world, has bluntly written a new page in sporting history, as he fulfilled his dream here to have a clean sweep of 8 medals at one Olympics. Still in the Water Cube, his compatriot, Eric Shanteau, was also considered a hero and won much adoration, when the 24-year-old cancer sufferer competed in the 200-meter breaststroke prelims last Tuesday morning here.

Shanteau was diagnosed with testicular cancer on June 19, a week before leaving for the U.S Olympic trials. He put off treatment to compete in the competition nevertheless. Despite the fatigue and pain from the growing cancer, the swimmer said cancer relieves competition pressure. Aaron Piersol, the American backstroke competitor and gold medalist of Beijing Olympics, put it after the competition, "Shanteau makes us to review whatever we have got, and it is he who helps us understand life is above Olympics, but dream above life."

This may also help explain why that day the spectators in the Water Cube shouted in concert one name: Shanteau, instead of Kitajama, who is a Japanese swimmer nicknamed "King of the breaststroke" and the gold medal hopeful. Spectators always give more of their respect to those who are courageous enough to challenge and surpass themselves.

The enthusiasm of the spectators goes not just to superstars like Michael Phelps and Yao Ming, but also to those who lost but demonstrated an undying determination. A posting entitled "A heartbreaking scene at the Beijing Games: Colombian weightlifter's tears" appeared on the homepage of China's leading portal website sina.com.cn last Tuesday and stirred many Chinese heartstrings.

The account, posted by a spectator after the men's 62kg class finals last Monday, told how the Chinese audience had supported Colombian weightlifter Oscar Figueroa, who failed to lift the barbell after several attempts. "The grief and helplessness in his eyes became apparent after several failed attempts. Everyone shouted 'go, go' and prayed for a miracle," read the posting.

While Figueroa broke into tears after one last futile attempt, the entire audience felt his grief, continued the posting, which has received nearly 160,000 clicks, and more than 570 netizens left comments, hoping to give Figueroa a pat on the shoulder.

The Olympics is not only an ode on victory and an account glorifying the winners only, but also a credible record of the sweat and tears of all competitors, whether they win or not.

No one can imagine Du li, the Chinese woman shooter, reclaiming the gold medal four days after she failed in the air rifle competitions on the first day of the Olympics. Du li had been expected highly to be China's first gold medalist, and therefore tremendous pressure mounted on her especially following her first day's failure. She was quoted as saying that it was the most agonizing four days in her life, but fortunately the Chinese spectators constantly consoled her and still cheered on her, which has greatly encouraged her to pluck up courage to compete again and win.

We play sports not only to win but for involvement and fun, as is said in Ode to Sport by Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games: O Sport, you are Joy! At your behest, flesh dances and eyes smile; blood races abundantly through arteries. Thoughts stretch out on a brighter, clearer horizon. To the sorrowful, you can even bring salutary diversion from their distress, whilst the happy, you enable fully to savor their joie de vivre.

Winning or losing, we will always pep up all those doing their best to compete. In the later half of the Games, we will continue to cheerfully applaud and share the glory of medal winners; and meanwhile we are ready to cheer on all the competitors and share their laughter and tears by watching the Olympic play.

By People's Daily Online

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1 China 35 13 13 61
2 USA 19 21 25 65
3 Australia 11 10 12 33
4 Great Britain 11 7 8 26
5 Germany 9 6 7 22
6 South Korea 8 9 5 22

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