Saturday, May 31, 2008

Chinese Rowing

While Yao Ming will largely be the face of the Olympics this year because of their international success and status as a favorite in their particular sports, basketball will most likely not be the sport that China is considering the most important to win.

The sports that China will be devoting most of their resources to are the so called 'medal rich' sports such as swimming, track and field, rowing and canoing/sailing. These sports have the most individual events within the discipline.

Rowing is an up and coming specialty for the Chinese, with rowers funneled into the program largely because they just barely missed the cut in other Olympic ultra-competitive endurance sports such as running and triathlon. As a result, the Chinese rowing program full athletes with very similar traits; tall and lean with outstanding endurance abilities; all ideal qualities for a rower.

This large influx of talent into a single sport is the main reason China is concentrating so many of their resources towards rowing; this represents China's grand ambition to capture more gold medals than any other nation at the Olympic Games. Rowing represents 14 potential gold medals for China, a goal much grander than a single gold in say basketball or soccer.

China has never even come close to winning the overall medal count at the Summer Games, a bragging right that the United States has held since 1996. In 2004, the United States had 102 medals , followed by Russia with 93 and China rounding out the third spot with 63.
Gold medal counts on the other hands is a much tighter battle. China had 32, only four behind the United States, a deficit the highly motivated Chinese are determined to close.

Chinese rowing is not without an impressive track record, lending to a favored contender status at the Olympics this summer.

China has won four medals in rowing, none gold, since its first Olympics in 1932. But suddenly, in a sport unfamiliar to most Chinese, the rowers have become a team to beat at the Beijing Games. China has qualified more boats than all but 4 of the 57 countries on the Olympic rowing roster so far.

Since 2006, Chinese rowers have won 18 gold medals at world championships and World Cup events, more than double the number of victories in the previous three years. At a World Cup regatta last year in Amsterdam, China stunned some leading teams by taking home 10 medals. It won five golds in the 14 events contested in the Olympics.

Quietly and swiftly, rowing has quickly grown to be a sport the Chinese are becoming dominant in, and likely by the end of the summer, it will be a newfound national sport with posters of the sport's heros adorning the walls along side Yao Ming and Xiu Liang.

1 comment:

John And Christine's Story said...

Now I want to Row!

Great Story!!! You are the Chinese Bill Simmons!