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Dashan: To embrace the Beijing Olympics like a fellow Chinese
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The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games may give rise to a "Chinese language fever". There are now Confucius Institutes all over the world and they are actually very popular. We all know that you speak great Chinese now, but when you were learning the Chinese language, did you ever hit a wall and want to quit? If yes, how did you manage to get over it?


Indeed, I've continued learning and using the Chinese language since I left university. And I have been meeting and learning new stuff my whole life. But I no longer have time for serious and systematic Chinese lessons. However, I don't think the "Chinese language fever" is only because of the Beijing Olympics, although some westerners may think so. In fact, China has been developing for the past thirty years and the Olympics are only a milestone in this ongoing process.


In 1998, the 20th anniversary of China's reform and opening up, you were named one of "China's most influential foreigners" by the media. Now that another 10 years have passed, I think you must have your own feelings about the changes that have taken place here in China in the time you have been living here.


My success largely stemmed from my appearances in China's evening shows on TV. When I started on TV, televisions were already common in China - more than 80% of Chinese families had access to televisions. Whenever there was a big evening spectacular, basically all the Chinese would turn to that channel. Back then, there were few local TV stations and even in a city like Beijing, which had local television, there were still only two TV stations - Beijing and the Central TV channels. Whenever CCTV broadcast an evening spectacular, the Beijing TV station would normally broadcast something from it.


You've always been part of our entertainment and art circles, and we all see you as a media star. So which sports event do you like best? And what expectations do you have for Team Canada and Team China in the upcoming Olympics?


The goal of the Canadian Olympic Committee is to hold on to 16th place in the Medal Table. If we finish lower than 16th, we will feel disappointed. But if we could get up to 13th or 14th, that would be great news. As a country with only 30 million people, we are not a strong competitor in the summer Olympics, so we're unlikely to be in the top 10. We only need around 10 medals and one or two golds to rank 16th, and we would be happy enough. In these Olympics I think China will win a lot more gold medals, some of which used to be the preserve of other countries.

Our key event is canoe, because we have a quality canoeist. For myself, I am more focused on whether Canada's basketball team can get Olympic qualification this year. They haven't got it yet. We didn't make it last year and now is the last chance. If the team can do really well in this week's games, they may have the opportunity to compete in the Beijing Olympics. I personally don't expect them to win too many games, I will be happy as long as they get here.

Of course, Team Canada is better at winter Olympic events, such as skiing and skating. We Canadians start to ski and skate regularly from when we are little children. So my hope is that Canada can rank 1st - or at least in the top three - on the Medal Tally in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

All in all, we will have a good time together in Beijing, no matter who is the winner.

(China.org.cn by Yan Pei July 24, 2008)


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