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When losing becomes a national tragedy

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James Reynolds | 08:21 UK time, Sunday, 24 August 2008

China's Olympic team has done so well that it's beginning to suffer from the Brazil football team syndrome. When you expect to win every time you turn up, it becomes a national tragedy when you happen to lose (parliamentary inquiries, coroners' inquests, calls for the immediate exile of the coach, etc).

The Chinese diver Zhou Luxin was expected to win a gold medal in the men's 10m diving on Saturday night. A victory for him would have given China all eight gold medals in the diving at the Beijing Games.

But Zhou came second. Not a good move.

An interviewer from Chinese state TV asked Zhou why he hadn't performed well enough. Commentators said his failure had cost China its chance at perfection.

I've just had a look at some comments on Chinese online chat rooms (we've translated them into English)...

"Very disappointed! Everyone expected Zhou to get the 50th gold. But he lost, he is the criminal of our country. We lost the most important gold medal in men's diving event. It is a huge shame, Zhou Jiehong, the team leader of China's diving team, should quit her post!"

"What Zhou lost is not a gold medal. He disappointed the hopes of the entire country. Hosting the Olympics is the dream of several generations."

Some are more sympathetic ...

"Every Chinese athlete knows how important the Beijing Olympics is, and they have much more pressure than the foreign athletes. Zhou is still young and has lots of chances. It is okay not to win a gold at this Olympics. He has done really well. The failure can get him to work harder in the future."

"Those people criticising our athletes are so bad in their attitude! Is it necessary for them to do that? Why should our athletes be regarded as medal machines? If they can't get gold medals, they will be criticised, if they get golds, everybody says loving words. These people are so nasty!"

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