Friendship first, competition second

China Daily | Updated: 2021-08-10 09:50
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Even amid the intensity of battle on the world's biggest stage, the Olympic spirit was alive and well in Tokyo. Perhaps it was because the shadow of the pandemic hung over the Games that athletes' sportsmanship, goodwill and consideration for their fellow competitors at times seemed to eclipse the fight for medals and glory. Chinese athletes contributed their fair share of touching moments, as ever conducting themselves with dignity and decorum, but also letting their emotional guard down on occasion to show their caring sides, even with the stakes so high. Team China athletes were also on the receiving end of many heartwarming gestures from their foreign rivals, some of whom put aside the pain of defeat to pay tribute to their opponents. As we say in China: "Friendship first, competition second."

Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan is embraced by Orabi Bader, physiotherapist for Israel, after performing on the vault in Tokyo, on July 25, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

Emotional farewell

Eight-time Olympian Oksana Chusovitina received a standing ovation as she walked out of the gymnastics arena in her last Games in Tokyo. "I cried tears of happiness because so many people have supported me for a long time," she said. Chusovitina's Olympic journey began in 1992, competing for the Unified Team of the former Soviet Union. She has also represented Germany and her native Uzbekistan. When Chusovitina's 3-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia in 2002, she sold her possessions and used her prize money to pay for his life-saving treatment. At the age of 46, Chusovitina competed against gymnasts her son's age in Tokyo.

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