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Faster, Higher, Stronger
Politicians love involvement in sports because there's no good sport in politics.
[ 2008-08-08 13:51 ]

Faster, Higher, Stronger

Olympic thoughts and quotes, as continued from Tuesday:


It's generally perceived that the Chinese as a race is little short on strength and therefore not very good at athletics and other sports that favors players with bigger, stronger bodies. Even the Chinese buy this and do you know why? It's because the Chinese haven't won that much. Simple as that. The Liu Xiangs and Yao Mings are going to help defuse that silly notion, silly because it overlooks the better part of excelling in sports – the hard work put in training.

On the other hand, the Chinese have proved to be good at sports that utilize agility, co-ordination, brain in addition to mere brawn. And so therefore don't be surprised if a Chinese player catapults her (perhaps more than his) way to a gold medal on the trampoline.


Speaking of hard work, it is worth noting that South Korean Kang Jae-won is the fourth consecutive Korean coach for the Chinese women's team. Koreans had also been invited to coach Chinese men as well. Similar in physique, the Koreans have won top honors in the world. Don't be surprised if at least Chinese women (sorry, fellas) make a major breakthrough in handball.


Ditto Chinese hockey. Also coached by a Korean, Chinese women are aiming high in Beijing. Sorry, fellas.


Jigoro Kano (1860-1938), founder of Judo:

Before and after practicing Judo or engaging in a match, opponents bow to each other. Bowing is an expression of gratitude and respect. In effect, you are thanking your opponent for giving you the opportunity to improve your technique.


Modern Pentathlon is an educational sport. This was the primary wish of its creator, Pierre de Coubertin. A complete sport, on the physical side – Swimming & Running are the basic disciplines; on the mental side – Shooting requires stress control and a precise technique; on the intellectual side – Fencing requires adaptability and intelligence; Riding an unknown horse requires a mix of adaptability, self-control and courage.

Credit: IOC.


OOPS? Joking.

Thank goodness politics is not an official Olympic sport. But there are droves of politicians hanging around during the Olympics anyway and do you know why? Politicians love involvement in sports because there's no good sport in politics.


Chinese proverb: Learning is like rowing upstream; one either advances or drops back.


John Updike, American writer:

Writing criticism is to writing fiction and poetry as hugging the shore is to sailing in the open sea.


Another one on the critic, this time from Tyne Daly, American actress:

A critic is someone who never actually goes to the battle, yet who afterwards comes out shooting the wounded.


Sorry for piling up on you, fellas, but while Chinese women will be challenging for medals, you men (playing baseball of course) will be also-runs who are just happy to be here.


A swimmer's favorite:

Seven days of no swimming makes one weak.


Chinese women will be aiming for a medal. Happily for men, this is a women-only event. For once, no male-female achievement comparisons can be made.


Whiff-whaff, flim-flam, ping-pong.

All names of table tennis for the sound the ball makes while being smashed about on the table.

For a change, Chinese men are equals to the women in this event, both competing for nothing but gold. However, if there were to be an upset, the men are more likely to be the culprit because if you look at history... Ah well, let's let the men off this time.


Choi Hong Hi (1918-2002), Korean who named traditional Korean martial art style Taekwondo:

Pain is the best instructor, but no one wants to go to his class.


Martina Navratilova, tennis great who never lost much in her day:

Whoever said, 'It's not whether you win or lose that counts,' probably lost.


While taekwondo and triathlon both debuted as the newest Olympic sports at the Sydney 2000 Games, triathlon was literally the newest sport. Although the origins of taekwondo date back thousands of years, the triathlon dates back to 1978.

The first triathlon was held in the south-western United States city of San Diego in 1974, in many ways an outgrowth of the California jogging craze. The ultimate endurance test, it requires athletes to excel at three very different pursuits – swimming, cycling and running.

Credit: IOC.


Chinese women winning five straight world titles in the 1980s gave rise to the first notions of female superiority in Chinese sports. Where volleyball is concerned, the saying 阴盛阳衰remains true. The women's team as defending Olympic champion will again be going for gold.


Jeff Foxworthy, American comedian, mimicking redneck farmers talking about the (Atlanta) Olympics:

The Olympics in Georgia? God, you know we're gonna screw that up, I guarantee you. When they let those doves go at the opening ceremony, there are gonna be guys in the parking lot with shotguns... And they'll probably have to cancel water polo after the first two or three horses drown.


Arnold Schwarzenegger, bodybuilding champion, Governor of California:

The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That's what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they'll go through the pain no matter what happens.


If the Olympic Games are a history of mankind, wrestling is the prologue. When the ancient Games of the Olympiad were born, wrestling already was an ancient game. Widely recognized as the world's oldest competitive sport, wrestling appeared in a series of Egyptian wall paintings as many as 5000 years ago. When the Games began in 776 BC, more than two millenniums later, it included wrestling, and, in the years that followed, wrestling featured as the main event.

The sport would return in a similar role when the Olympic Games returned after a 1500-year absence in 1896. Organizers, seeking direct links to ancient times, found a natural in the sport that had enjoyed popularity across much of the ancient world, from Greece, Assyria and Babylon to India, China and Japan. They resurrected Greco-Roman wrestling, a style they believed to be an exact carryover from the Greek and Roman wrestlers of old.

In Greco-Roman wrestling, the wrestlers used only their arms and upper bodies to attack. They could hold only those same parts of their opponents. It worked nicely from a historical perspective, but another breezier style was sweeping across Great Britain and the United States by then. Known as "catch as catch can", it had become standard fare - and popular professional entertainment – at fairs and festivals in both countries.

In 1904, the Olympic Games added the second wrestling event and called it "freestyle". Now, wrestlers could use their legs for pushing, lifting and tripping, and they could hold opponents above or below the waist.

Credit: IOC.

Enjoy the Games.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

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