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Silver and bronze are golden too

By Cui Jia and Peng Yining (China Daily)

14:16, July 31, 2012

Athletes deserve support regardless of medal tally, proud sports fans say

Despite winning silver in the men's 56kg weightlifting event at the Olympic Games, Wu Jingbiao, Chinese double world champion, apologized profusely for, as he put it, letting down his fans and his country in an interview with China Central Television on Monday.

"I feel terribly guilty for disappointing my country, the Chinese weightlifting team and all the people who supported me," he said fighting the tears in front of the camera. "I really wanted to be the best but I didn't make it," he said. "I am sorry!"

The CCTV reporter hugged Wu, 23, and told him that it was a proud achievement to win the silver medal and he would have another opportunity.

After all, the Olympic maxim states that it is not the winning but the taking part that counts.

Back in China, public opinion and online comments overwhelmingly supported Wu and other Chinese athletes who failed to get gold. The obsession for Olympic gold should not lessen the remarkable feat of getting an Olympic medal of whatever hue, they said.

"It's understandable that Wu regretted not getting the gold but he has nothing to apologize for," said Guangzhou resident Wu Zhilin, an avid sports fan.

"His reaction shows how much he, as a Chinese athlete, cared about the gold. But winning silver also deserves to be celebrated."

Medal: 'Athletes not machines'

There is no doubt that gold medal winners are given more material rewards and media exposure than other Olympic participants in China.

To some extent, the media are partly responsible for the obsession with gold medals, Wu Zhilin said.

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