In China, All That Matters Is Gold

Beijing recruits foreign coaches, targets medal-rich sports in quest to win, win, win
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2008 12:34 PM CDT
Chinese officials have valued each gold medal earned by their country at 1000 times the worth of a silver medal, and the message is clear: if you don't come in first, you might as well have been last.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – China wants to impress the world during this summer's Olympics, and not just by hosting a seamless Games. Determined to finish with more gold medals than any other nation, the country is bringing in foreign coaches like Igor Grinko, reports the New York Times. “Silver? It means nothing here; you might as well finish last,” the Russian says.

“They’re just doing this like the East Germans did in the 1970s and ’80s,” explains the rowing coach, who is well aware that his job security depends on how many karats his athletes capture. China has invested millions in its ambitious plan, resulting in a focus on medal-rich sports like swimming, rowing, track, and sailing.