Why is China so successful in the Olympics?
How does China bag scores of medals every Olympics? What makes them such powerful performers?
Watching China dominate the medals tally is a common sight at every Olympics. It goes without saying that the Chinese prepare extensively for this marquee event and are immaculate with their execution in every sport they participate. Sure they have the largest population in the world resulting in a strong talent pool. But population alone can’t win you medals after medals.
To put things into perspective, here’s how China has fared at the Olympics since the year 2000.
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This time, China could be looking at a similar performance as compared to Beijing and we list the reasons why the country always does brilliantly at the Olympics.
Competitive streak and talent pool
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Kids are pushed into playing different sports and are encouraged by their parents to take it up as a profession. When there is no dearth of talent, you need good men to spot good quality talent.
There is an extremely strong competitive streak among kids in China. The large population of the country leads to cutthroat competition in every field and only the best get selected and go on to become world beaters.
Since the 2008 Olympics was played at home, a gigantic total of 639 Chinese athletes participated which in turn played a huge role in China securing the numero uno position in that edition. The large pool of talent is highlighted by the fact that China has sent a 416-member contingent to Rio in a bid to win around 100 medals.
Sports schools and subsidies
Kids who have little interest in academics are allowed to pursue other passions like sports. There are lots of sports schools in China and kids are encouraged to take up sports full time at a very young age.
Also, there are subsidies and funding for the athletes who play the sport at a particular level. They do not have to worry about doing day jobs and taking out time for the sport. They can concentrate solely on sports without worrying about anything else.
There are close to 5000 sports schools giving quality training to the budding athletes and encouraging them to bring laurels to their nation.
Economic growth and a centralised training program
“The Beijing Olympics represent China's grand entrance onto the world stage and confirmation of its new superpower status”- Ma Jian, Famous Chinese writer
It is a known fact that China is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. China prides itself on showing the world how good it is when it comes to sports and what better place than the greatest sporting spectacle on earth to announce their supremacy to the world.
There are dedicated funds allotted for a centralised athlete training program that oversees the progress of the athletes in different sports. The heavy funding (estimated to be one of the highest in the world) means decent salaries for the athletes which further motivates them to channelise their energy in the right direction.
”The Olympic Games is holy. Athletes from around the world, including myself, of course, dream to participate”.- Yao Ming, former Chinese basketball player
As the country takes its sport extremely seriously, the same feeling is reciprocated by their athletes as well. The athletes give their all when they represent their nation at the highest level with the sole aim of winning the coveted gold medal. All their sweat and blood bear fruit when they go on to execute their plans to perfection on the big stage.
The centre too helps them realise their dreams by hiring quality coaches. They have no qualms in roping in foreign coaches and are ready to shell out big bucks to have them onboard. These coaches make these athletes go through rigorous training and also help in the SWOT analysis of the opponents.
For example, there were 28 foreign head coaches at the 2008 Beijing Olympics along with scores of foreign assistant coaches.
Smart tactics to boost medal tally
China have the tactical nous when it comes to picking the right sport to maximise their chances of winning a medal. They keep a tab on the strengths and weakness of their opponents at a particular sport and plan accordingly for the future.
For example, China were initially not doing too well after the Trampoline was introduced at the games in 2000 Sydney Olympics. But the country gauged a lack of competition and prepared diligently to grab gold medals after two editions in 2008 at Beijing in both the men’s and women’s events respectively.
Lu Chunlong won the gold in the men’s individual category and He Wenna won the gold in the women’s individual category in 2008 Beijing Olympics. Dong Dong again of China had won Bronze but he went on to bag a gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics continuing the Chinese domination in this relatively new event.
Also, their target has always been to maintain a stronghold in the sports they are already good at like Badminton and Table Tennis.
Equal importance to men’s events and women’s events
One sees countries giving more importance to the men’s events and at times neglecting the women’s events. China bucks the trend here by producing quality women performers who sometimes outshine the men’s contingent by winning more medals than them (Remember the 2008 Beijing Olympics where the women won 7 gold medals more than the men; Women: 29 gold medals, Men: 22 gold medals).
China understands that adding women athletes to their scheme of things will only add weight to their campaign. China grooms high-quality women athletes and leaves no stone unturned in encouraging them to make history just like their men counterparts.
As the Chinese start their campaign for Rio 2016, is there anyone who would bet against them finishing on the top of the pile again?