Saturday, November 27, 2010

Asian Games End With Record China Haul

Decision PointsGUANGZHOU, China—China wrapped up the Asian Games with a record 199 gold medals, more than double its nearest rival, but team leaders won't relax preparations for the 2012 London Olympics.
The Chinese appear driven to repeat their performance from Beijing two years ago, when they topped the gold medal count for the very first time at the Olympics.
China faced little resistance at the Asian Games, widely seen as an Olympic warm-up event, winning so many golds that the result sometimes just seemed like a foregone conclusion.

At a wrap up news conference Saturday, Chinese delegation chief Duan Shijie rattled off a list of gold medal sweeps: diving, table tennis, basketball, beach volleyball, canoe and kayak. All the golds in women's boxing, which is making its debut in London. Also top finishes in women's gymnastics, handball and water polo. He didn't mention the 10-gold sweep in the non-Olympic dance sport event.
China blew away the competition, capping it off by rallying from two sets down to beat South Korea in the women's volleyball final—the last event on the program.
South Korea was second in the medal standings and trailed far behind with 76 gold. Japan didn't even reach 50 this time.
Mr. Duan pledged his delegation will be ``sober in confronting the realities'' for London.
``Just because we have been successful at the Asian Games doesn't mean we are bound to be successful again at the London Olympic games,'' he said.
Mr. Duan pointed out that many Chinese athletes still lag behind top international competition, with their success in Guangzhou strongly linked to the easier regional competition. Another troubling issue was a weaker showing in some sports that China has traditionally dominated at the continental games, such as weightlifting, archery and wrestling, delegation secretary-general Cai Jiadong said.
``If we look at the prospects of our performance for the Olympic Games we are not that optimistic,'' Mr. Cai said, repeating the modest assessment that Chinese officials typically give ahead of the event.
The Chinese officials brushed off criticism that one country's domination at such sporting events was bad for competition.
``Every delegation participated at these games to obtain the best possible result,'' Mr. Cai said. ``Even though we were top of the medal tally, it doesn't mean we have a monopoly.''
``We hope we set a good example, we hope that the attention and support from the Chinese government and the Chinese people can be some sort of reference for some other countries and their people,'' he added.
China's domination has even attracted criticism in state media, which normally hews closely to the ruling Communist Party's line. Xinhua News Agency reporter Yang Ming wrote in a commentary that the government should be focused not on developing elite athletes, but promoting fitness among ordinary people to combat the country's growing problems with obesity and related health issues.
Some have speculated that Guangzhou's hosting of the Asian Games was part of an effort to bring the Olympics to the southern Chinese city. Beijing hosted the Asian Games in 1990 before holding the Olympics in 2008.
Mr. Cai said there were ``no plans at the moment'' to bring the Olympics to Guangzhou.

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