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Reflections behind 'Gold Rush'
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16:37, August 20, 2008

The Olympic odyssey has made its way into the second half, and China's Olympic squad has harvested a record amount of gold in its sporting history and remained No.1 on the medal tally from the opening day. Intoxicated by the victory, Many Chinese cannot help but form an unrealistic picture in mind: China has at last grown up into a sport superpower.

Some cynics, meanwhile, begin to ponder whether the number of gold medals is tantamount to the strength in competitive sports. Many foreign observers also deem that in so far as China is focused on the gold medals, some Chinese silver or bronze medalists could even have a sense of inferiority, and many Chinese people don't even take a silver winner a real winner equally in importance to the Champion. Christian Bauer, a French coach dubbed as 'the man who helped China to fencing gold' in many Chinese media, complained after the women fencing team competitions, 'We won the silver, and it is also the best so far, but no one has extended congratulations to us. I wonder why?' The reason may lie in the ingrained 'gold worship' amid the ordinary Chinese spectators or in the sporting system which encourages in disguise the mindset of championship.

A survey, conducted recently by Washington Observer, a U.S-based weekly magazine, indicated that the Chinese people seem unduely optimistic about the international image of their country, as China is trying to use the Olympics as a showcase to be internationally seen in a new light. Some analysts also echoed that how many gold medals can be seized in one Games cannot necessarily mark a substantial progress scored in competitive sports. South Korea won the bronze in the World Cup in 1998, but by no means can this suggest South Korea had since become a football power. That China is high on the medal tally doesn't mean it is already a sport giant. To achieve this, China still has a long way to go.

China's sport, following in the footsteps of the former Soviet mode, is in actuality out-of-date in its managerial and operational systems. Pierre de Coubertin, founder of modern Olympics, used to eulogize sport in a poem saying 'sport is all for the mass public.' Since the establishment of new China in 1949, china's government has also devoted to the popularity of the mass sports. It is stipulated in China's Constitution that the State is bound to develop sports and promote mass involvement in a bid to enhance people's physique nationwide. Even so, the popularity of sports among the ordinary people is far from enough; and in particular, playing for exercise and fun, as is described as the essence in mass sports, is hard to gain ground in China, as its newly emerged economy has yet to create a sound environment in which all those interested in sports can afford the fun, on top of that, the national quality related to sports still needs improving.

Therefore, to substantially promote mass sports, China will have to first of all optimize or transform the existing sporting system. In addition to the efforts made in the enactment and enforcement of related laws, regulations and policies to carry forward the 'Nationwide Fitness Plan,' which has in these years proved an initial success in promoting mass sports, a win-win deal must be clinched between the State input and commercialization in terms of the operation of competitive sports. Only by the perfect match of State aids and commercial investment, can China's competitive sports go so far as they wish. And mass sports will help build up a more sound and rational society in which competitive sports can make much headway. On this basis, China will one day grow up into a real sport power.

By People's Daily Online

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