BERKELEY, Calif. — The four friends visiting Berkeley from China looked at each other in confusion. Were they unaware or uncomfortable with the subject of Olympic controversies involving their native land? But then Cassy Lee said the stress that Chinese athletes face compared to competitors from other nations is part of the reason they were hesitant to comment.
“There is pressure on Chinese athletes because they quit their jobs in order to train,” she said. “After their families pay for their training, they are all relying on the money that the government gives them once a medal is won.” She said, “The government pays each athlete for a medal,” almost in disbelief. “Americans don’t worry about all that pressure.”
Lesley Cheng presented a different attitude toward the Olympic Games. In comparison to her three friends, Cheng followed the games on a 24-hour basis. First, she woke up early to watch the games. Second, to make sure she didn’t miss any great moments, she recorded the entire day in London. Cheng was the definition of a devoted sports fan.
“We don’t follow the results of our country in the Olympic Games,” was the response we recieved from all our interviewees. Yet as we started asking more questions, we were constantly interrupted: “Actually, India won one silver in shooting … Oh, and a bronze in badminton,” said Dhiren Phera, wh earlier said that the Olympic Games were not of interest to him.
Here with his family from India, who had recently moved to the United states, he and the others talked over each other, overwhelmed with excitement. “When someone wins, people cheer up,” he said.