Here's an interesting article from the LA Times talking about the much-improved performance of the Chinese in this Summer Games. They've already bested their gold medal count from 2004, and they are far ahead of the US in the same category. The US has a 1 medal lead in the overall count, which is fine, but isn't the old saying that 2nd place is 1st loser? :) Just kidding! Don't flame me for disparaging silver and bronze medals - I think our athletes have done amazing things that we should be very proud of.
Here are my quick thoughts on the Olympics:
* Hanna has made an excellent point about China. Of course they should be performing well. What other country in the world seizes children as young as 3 and carts them off to Olympics training in a specific sport, allowing them to see their parents only once per year? How does a free country compete with that?
* China has performed surprisingly well in some unexpected areas. For instance, who would have thunk that they would beat the US #2 womens' beach volleyball team? Yao Ming aside, you don't typically think of the Chinese as being tall or jumpers.
* The US has had some disappointing performances (100m dash, womens' swimming, diving, etc.). How strange is it that the US swept the individual medals in womens' saber and then didn't get a medal in womens' team saber?
* How do we balance disappointment in key areas like Track & Field vs the outstanding performance of our athletes? Moreover, how do we balance continued frustration in areas like gymnastics where the judging system, though a little less obtuse, still seems funky. I liked Howard Wasserman's comments here suggesting that the judges should be required to disclose the rationale for every deduction.
* I'm tired of hearing about doping and age controversies. The best athlete available should be allowed to compete. If the athletes want to give themselves a perceived advantage using drugs, then fine. However, that being said, I believe that all participating countries must then agree to and enforce laws that hold coaches, trainers, and doctors legally responsible should bad things happens from performing too young or from overdoing the drugs. Hold people accountable and then you can get away from this cat-n-mouse game.