Sunday, August 24, 2008

Is the United States's dominance in Olympics over?

By John Cheeran
Is the United States’ dominance in Olympics over?
China (51) upstaged the US (36) in terms of maximum gold medals in Beijing and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ranks countries according to the weight of their gold.
In the total medal tally, the United States (110) has an edge over China 100). That’s only a small consolation for the US.
This power shift was not surprising, since it was in the making for some time and as a host China was anyway supposed to perform at its best.
In Athens, the US had logged 36 gold medals. China had 32 gold. So it was a pretty close race.
Before the Olympics, an analysis by economists at PriceWaterhouseCoopers concluded that China was on target to win 88 medals overall, compared with 87 for the US.
China has a population of 1.3 billion – more than four times that of the US, and the future Chinese dominance was a certainty.
Only in India’s case such statistics do not work.
But what Americans are really worried about is their decline in track and field events. Had they struck more gold in these events, they could have challenged the rise of the East in much better manner. Jamaica, led by world record breaking sprinter Usian Bolt, changed all that.
Mike Celizic, an analyst at MSNBC, traces the US decline to the explosion of popularity in baseball, football and basketball. “Great athletes go where the money and the fame are, and it’s not in track and field — not in America, anyway. A baseball player can make more in a year playing team sports than all but the very greatest in the world track will make in their careers. Other than the Olympics, there's no television exposure for track and field in the United States.
Universities are also losing interest. Scholarships are way down, especially for males, and colleges looking for a cheap way to meet Title IX requirements are dumping men’s track and wrestling to improve their ratios of male to female athletes. They could do it by creating more women’s sports, but it saves money to eliminate male sports, and they start with the ones people are least interested.”
But China has done some planning to come up with the great medal haul. Project 119, an intensive training programme that aimed to maximise Chinese progress into athletics and water sports, such as swimming, canoeing and sailing worked wonderfully.
Great Britain’s improved show also affected the US tally.
And even India got three medals, one of them being gold.
The Beijing Olympics has truly seen the Rise of the Rest than the Decline of America.

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