By Qian Xu, Yangzi Evening News
Chinese swimmer Zhang Lin scored a historic victory by winning gold and setting a new world record in the 800m freestyle at the 13th FINA World Championships in Rome on July 30. But some overseas media said Zhang's victory was due to his "magic swimsuit" rather than natural ability.
The Chinese women's relay team, who topped the 4*100 medley relay on August 1, received the same treatment. Many Chinese people were upset by the coverage, and the old complaint that the "feelings of the Chinese People" had been hurt was heard yet again.
Foreign media doubts about Chinese victories
Some foreign press reports declared the Chinese had only won because of the unfair advantage provided by their swim suits. French newspaper L'Equipe described Zhang Lin's world record as a joke." The headline in Australia's The Age was "Zhang smashes 800 with ‘suit help'".
The Swim News website raked up the past, claiming that "back in 1994, not a single Chinese swim…did not fall under a cloud of suspicion of a doping nature" and attributed the success of the Chinese women's relay team to their Jaked01 suits.
The "feelings of the Chinese People" are too easily hurt
But the success of the Chinese team in Rome is due to both the hard work of the athletes and their high-tech suits. After all, Zhang Lin was not the only swimmer to wear a speed suit. Britta Steffen of Germany frankly admitted that her super suit helped her achieve her new records.
After years of uphill struggle and advanced training, the Chinese team has every right to say that its confidence does not come from its speed suits. China, often ridiculed for being unable to accept criticism, should, this time round, make it clear that its self-belief will not be dented by negative news reports.
Criticism and negative coverage are always unpleasant. But the best way to answer them is in the sports arena. Only when China achieves consistent performances will the criticism come to an end. Above all, the Chinese swimming team cannot afford to repeat its past mistakes.
"The feelings of the Chinese people" should not be so easily hurt. The best way to deal with criticism is to keep making progress and setting new records.
(China.org.cn translated by Chen Chen August 11, 2009)