An athlete’s dilemma – Who to thank?

Sometimes, communist states do strange things like organizing lip syncing on the biggest sporting stage of the world when it was totally not necessary. Why not publicly criticize a world champion for not thanking the brutal state sport system, despite the fact that they just won a gold medal and brought ‘glory’ to the country!

18 year old short track speedskater Zhou Yang survived the brutal Chinese Sport System to win Gold in the 1,500m individual race and the 3,000m relay at the 2012 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Following the event, she was interviewed by CTV and choose to thank people from the bottom of her heart :

It’s my dream. After winning the gold I might change a lot, become more confident and help my parents have a better life.

She then thanked her coach and teammates but left out thanking the one million people involved in the state sport system. FAIL!
In fact, Yu Zaiqing of the China General Administration of Sport as well as an IOC vice-chair gave the following statement

It’s right to respect and thank your parents but you also have to have the country in your hear. The country must come first.

Gao Jian of the CPPCC even tried to back up Yu, saying later that

moral education is more important than physical training

I understand the idea behind Gao’s statement and the fact that physical ability isn’t everything. However, it is an assumption made, based upon the false idea of Zhou not actually liking her country. Whats more, it runs completely contradictory to the state sport system which involves painful training regimes, at the expense of the very education and mental development that he aspires to promote.

Unsurprisingly, the rather stupid statement by Yu drew wide condemnation and a raft of support for Zhou with 88% supporting her original TV response in an online poll of over 300,000 mainland internet users.
With all due respect, not everyone involved in the sport school system helped contribute to her victory. She did thank everyone with immediate importance and influence (teammates and coach) and could not possibly be expected to thank Da Ming who works in some obscure, tortures school. In fact, by Yu’s logic, she should have thanked the state educations system, the iOC and organizers, the Chinese IOC right down to cleaner on the street.

She later released a second statement saying

What I really want to say is thanks… and thanks everyone who supported us. I think our coaches. I think the staff, and I think my mum and dad,

Chinese officials should stop quibbling over unimportant details. For Zhou’s parents, they’ll receive 1 million yuan in prize money along with a new 2 bedroom flat. Congratulations to Zhou.


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