In somewhat of a surprise outcome to many the US got both more gold and the most medals overall beating out China. The US got 46 gold medals compared to 38 for China. For total medals the US came away with 104 to China’s 87. As I said the result was somewhat of a surprise to many including people in the US. I remember at one point during NBC’s olympic coverage they were discussing the medal tally and a commentator remarked that although the US had passed China for the most medals at one point that people should expect the Chinese to eventually take the lead for good. I do think it is interesting the US ended up winning because the fact that China has so many more people and the government sponsors many athletes. Throw in the fact that most athletes are literally hand picked by scouts at very young ages and then shipped off to sports academies to train full time away from their families. To me having 4 times the population, state sponsorship of athletes, sports academies developing talent from young ages should seem like it would be a system that consistently produced more medals than the US.
Which then raises the question of why China did not beat the US this time? Obviously China had the home field advantage last olympics because they were the host nation so everyone knew they weren’t going to do as good this time. Also the US deserves credit for having a great olympic games, especially the US women athletes who ended up winning more medals than the men. Some Chinese bloggers have speculated that the system China has used to produce olympic athletes may be to blame because the enormous pressure put on the athletes to succeed eventually becomes too much for some. One Chinese blogger actually went so far as to say that Chinese system produces athletes that are one-dimensional and unprepared for life when he wrote
“The budding young talents are shut up in closed training
schools from a young age and apart from their own events, almost
have no other life skills.”
My personal opinion is that it was a great olympics for Team USA but it will be hard to consistently out do China in the future because of all the previously mentioned advantages China has. Although some of those advantages like the government backing and extreme dedication come at a heavy price for the individual athletes. Could you imagine being sent away to one of those sports academies at 5 years old, train for years only to find out you’re not good enough. Or what if you got injured and could no longer compete and you spent your whole life preparing for something you will never have the chance to do and oh by the way you are totally unprepared on how to handle the rest of your life. To me that is a price to steep to pay, I almost feel sorry for Chinese athletes.