“Man I don’t really care about gymnastics I just want to beat China”. This is what my buddy said as he sat down next to me on the couch as we settled in for another night of Bob Costas and the 29th Olympiad in all its HD glory.
By the end of the night, he was falling in love with Nastia Liukin and all my other guy friends myself included had become infatuated with Alicia Sacramone. Not to mention I was becoming an expert in the confusing new gymnastics scoring system.
I never thought I or any of my friends would ever care so much about gymnastics but everybody I have talked to since the US girls stumbled to a silver medal was desperately hoping that we would beat those “cheating Chinese”. At the time of publication, I have yet to talk to anybody that believes that all the girls on the Chinese team are over 16 or even close to it.
Then, on Wednesday night, I could not have imagined a worse way for the U.S.’s swimming dominance to be momentarily disrupted then by watching the Chinese women finish 1, 2 in the women’s 200m Butterfly. Now before I get ahead of myself I give China’s Liu Zige and Jiao Liuyang all the credit in the world for swimming great races. Now with that said China is certainly, not known for having success in the pool and to be from a country that seems to be willing to win at any cost in these Olympics it has to raise some suspension. Especially after China surprisingly won silver in the women’s 4X200m freestyle relay beating the bronze medal American’s in a race that they had never lost in Olympic history.
I would argue that the Olympics never stopped being relevant but there has been a certain buzz surrounding these games that wasn’t around other recent Olympiads and it has to stem from our growing rivalry with China. Before these Olympics, there were outcries about China’s poor human rights records and nonchalant stance towards global warming and pollution. Not to mention the growing rivalry between the two countries outside of the sporting realm. Yes, the U.S. and China are working together to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons in North Korea. However, our differences in global politics are far more common than our similarities. The growing political rivalry created a lot of pre games hype and now NBC is enjoying the highest ratings ever of any Olympics held outside the United States.
While the Redeem Team and Michael Phelps will continue to earn most of the headlines at the end of the games what will be on most people’s minds is who will be on top in the Medal Count. I also expect any matchups between the U.S. and China to garner much more attention than usual regardless of the sport.
Beginning tonight in the women’s gymnastics individual all around Shawn Johnson, with a smile made to be on a Wheaties box, along with teammate Nastia Liukin will try to prevent a Chinese sweep of the gymnastics all-around gold medals.
In order to come out on top in the medal count The United States will have to continue to rack up the medals in the pool and continue our success in team sports. The men’s soccer team without the services of Freddy Adu against Nigeria has unfortunately already been eliminated.
Nevertheless, for softball, men and women’s basketball, baseball, and women’s soccer gold is still a very real possibility. Also, on the beach Misty May and Kerri Walsh have looked very dominate thus far. The problem is that all these teams can only win one medal.
Thus, the key to these Olympics will be next week in track and field. The Chinese have a few strong runners but look for Tyson Gay and an always strong U.S. track team to put America over the top and in front permanently in the medal count.