Sports / China Daily Exclusive

Team China wins respect displaying Olympic spirit

(China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-23 07:43

A total of 70 medals, including 26 gold - third in the medal table - has consummated a fortnight of entertainment and excitement for Chinese spectators of the Olympics.

As its leader Liu Peng put it, Team China "basically" fulfilled what had been anticipated for Rio 2016.

Yet this otherwise handsome harvest will be of no consolation to those for whom gold appeared almost a foregone conclusion.

Rio 2016 was a downer for at least half of Team China's six "dream squads". The gymnastics and shooting squads, in particular, both registered their worst performances since 1984.

But while the nation's sports authorities are obliged to do the return-on-investment accounting and subsequent preparations for Tokyo 2020, it is well to remember the Olympics is not all about medals.

Rio 2016 provided some marvelous winning stories, be it Usain Bolt fulfilling his career "triple triple", Michael Phelps snatching his 23rd gold, or our women's volleyball players stumbling all their way to again stand on top of the world, after 12 long years.

However, it showed that sports is not just about winning. While it is enthralling to see strong rivals competing against each other to see who will come out on top, it is also inspiring to watch athletes push themselves beyond what they thought were the limits of their abilities to achieve something they didn't know they were capable of. Indeed, many Chinese athletes recorded personal bests.

Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui's unexpected rise to stardom, for instance, had little, if anything, to do with that bronze medal she earned. The 20-year-old became the nation's sweetheart simply because she displayed such pure enjoyment on learning that she had achieved a new personal record.

In Rio, it was not only the gold, silver and bronze, that shone.

The International Olympic Committee and the Rio organizers deserve a special medal for incorporating a team of refugees into the world's most watched sporting event.

Together they gave the Olympics a whole new dimension - a dimension of compassion.

Rio 2016 showed that while Chinese spectators feel proud when the five-star flag is raised to the national anthem, they also enjoy such occasions for the sports themselves. Netizens lauded home winners at the games and also had encouraging words for those who kept pushing their personal limits but failed to get a medal.

Who said it was only medals that matter? Rio again proves that it is human capabilities that are most valuable.

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