It seems you do not have to run faster, jump higher or even be stronger to be an Olympic star these days. Having a huge collection of pins does the trick just fine.
Sitting in a restaurant outside the Olympic Village yesterday, Janet Grissom, a doctor from Salt Lake City in the US, was surrounded by a crowd of a size normally reserved for international celebrities.
American Janet Grissom exchanges an Olympic pin with a local collector near the Olympic village yesterday. [China Daily]
"Can I trade this with you?" 28-year-old local woman Xu Yang asked, holding up a Beijing Olympic mascot pin.
In return, she wanted a pin shaped like a hot air balloon from the 1996 Atlanta Games that nestled among the doctor's collection.
Luckily for Xu, the Fuwa pin was exactly what Grissom had been looking for.
"I'd love to get more mascot pins," the 48-year-old said.
Grissom said she began collecting pins when she was a volunteer at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
She now has more than 10,000, she said."It's fun because you get to meet new people at each Olympics and can build your collection," she said while dealing with requests from a swarm of eager traders.
Each of her pins has a story, she said.
"This one," she said, pulling a pin featuring the word 'gymnast' from the bag at her feet, "I traded with someone at a gymnastics event. Now, whenever I look at it, I think about that day."
When asked how much her pins were worth she said collectors attach different values to them.
"Sometimes, I'll trade two old pins for one new one, she said.
"This Athens pin, for example, is all beaten up, so it's not worth so much.
"Everyone's looking for something different. People don't always find what they want, so we don't trade," she said.
But not everything on show is for sale, Grissom said.
"All the ones on my head are the ones I won't trade," she said, pointing to a navy blue baseball cap covered in glittering pins.
Grissom said she takes a three-week trip every two years to wherever the Winter or Summer Olympics is being held, and trades about 1,000 pins at each.
(China Daily August 12, 2008)