The Olympics, a time when many are amazed by feats of people who have dedicated their lives to doing well in their respective sports. There are, however, always scandals to go along with the prestigious event.
This year two of the big ones have included a badminton upset and the swimming phenomenon that is China’s Ye Shiwen.
There were multiple teams who were competing in the women’s doubles badminton tournament at the Olympics. It was found during round robin play that a few of the doubles teams, including South Korea, Indonesia, and China, were trying to lose on purpose. By strategically losing they would be able to come up against “easier” teams when seeded in the quarter-finals making it more likely to advance to the final.
These teams were then charged with “not using one’s best efforts to win.” Even after referee’s warned the players during the games the teams continued to play to lose. They have attempted to have the verdict overturned stating that they were simply reserving their energy for the knock out matches to happen the next day. Despite appeals after being disqualified the verdict remained, they were out of the competition.
This unsportsmanlike display worked in the favour of Canada’s Michelle Li and Alex Bruce as they have advanced to the medal round for the first time in Olympic history. Both Australia and Canada had made it into the quarter-finals because of the scandal.
This doesn’t bother me at all, some might say Canada doesn’t deserve to be there with the top four teams being removed, but really when four teams attempt to lose on purpose they don’t deserve to play in the final anyways, in my opinion. It’s simply poor sportsmanship and the integrity of the sport was compromised due to this choice.
The fact that losing could have helped the teams in advancing to the medal rounds is not well thought out and the Olympic committee will have to rethink tournament play for future games.
The other “scandal” is the swimming showcased by Ye Shiwen. She won gold by leaving all of her competition in her wake during the last 100 metres of the 400 metre individual medley. In her last 50 metres she was close to Ryan Lochte’s winning time in the men’s 400 metre individual medley.
There is great disbelief in her time of just below four and a half minutes. The 16 year-old is believed to have cheated in some way. Ye has been tested for performance enhancing drugs, but has been found to be clean. Still many people are of the belief that doping was involved.
American John Leonard, the executive director of the World Swimming Coaches Association, said, “... a woman does not out-swim the fastest man in the world in the back quarter of a 400m IM that is otherwise quite ordinary. It just doesn’t happen.”
She again broke an Olympic record in the women’s 200m individual medley with a time of 2:07.57. Again showing greater speed in the last leg of the race, which has continued the questions raised concerning the athlete.
So, is it possible that a woman can swim this fast or is there another reason why she won? The Chinese state that they adhere to the strictest drug testing policies and that there is no chance she was on drugs, while those who have tested her for the Olympics have found no sign of impurities.
China exclaims that it is simply their strong focus on making champions that has resulted in their domination at the Olympics this year and Ye’s performance. Their determination to create champions is a combination of a large population, nationally identifying any gifted youth, and putting them into a focused, well-funded program.
What is Ye’s gold medal dependent on then? Currently nobody really knows because of all the discussion surrounding her win. There are groups who support the athlete stating that the Olympics are there to defy the possible, to prove that anything can happen, and to remind people to give everything their all because anything is possible. Yet, others are positive this feat couldn’t be met by a 16 year-old girl. Whether the truth, racist, or sexist everyone seems to have an opinion on the matter around the world as can be found through a simple Google.
I personally would like to believe that she simply beat the competition. Until proven otherwise I will believe she focused and trained hard allowing her to succeed. The competition is supposed to bolster sportsmanship, so unless evidence is found against the athlete I will give her the benefit of the doubt.