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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

An Aussie view on the Olympics

An Australian sporting perspective on the coming Beijing Games.


"The chip on China's shoulder
August 06, 2008 | John Birmingham
(Source Date of Access 05 August 2008)

They were the Middle Kingdom, the cradle of civilisation (yeah, yeah, I know, Mesopotamia and Egypt and all those other guys, but lets just ignore them for now). The Chinese dynasties, they were rockin’ the house when our hapless, barbarian ancestors were still perfecting their whole Dark Ages ignorance thing.

Then it all goes pear-shaped. The Poms whip in to carve off Hong Kong and run a very profitable opium racket. Japan invades and absolutely disgraces itself. Even turning Red doesn’t win the respect of old Joe Stalin who was, like, totally condescending about Chairman Mao’s dictator chops, and then Vietnam, tiny little Vietnam, kicks a whole heap o’ Chinese butt in a short, embarrassing war in 1979.

That’s the sort of history gives a country a chip on the shoulder, and if anyone knows about shoulder chips it has to be us down here in Vegemiteville. We could teach the Chinese a post-graduate course in performance anxiety on the global stage.

Will they notice me will they love me omigod omigod omigod will they even know I’M ALIVE?

There was a comment in one of our earlier blogs from an expat, resident in China for the past five years, who testified to just how important medal success will be for the host country. A comment from a Beijing cabbie summed it up for him.

“China is going to ‘finally beat the foreigners’ at the Olympics.”

It’s an anxious underdog frame of mind that we should be able to understand because it’s so often our natural state of being. Just have a look around the site here and check out how much wordage is devoted to the obsessive, molecular level analysis of how many medals ‘we’ are likely to bring home - when ‘we’ won’t be doing anything of the sort. ‘We’ will be sitting on our fat, hairy butts in front of the teev, inhaling triple cheese pizzas and bags of corn chips, breaking into a rancid sweat and heart flutters every time we have to reach for the magic stick to mute the insufferable waffle of the network commentary.

So yeah. It is kind of embarrassing that the hosts are investing so much face in how they perform in front the world.

But that would make them different from the rest of us because…?

I wonder some days if other countries even do this. Or are we the neediness champions of the world?"