By Kathy Kemper – 08/19/08 04:09 PM ET
Twenty-five-year-old hurdler Liu Xiang is China’s star athlete. His name, fittingly, means “to soar.” He won the 110-meter hurdles race in Athens, and was fully expected to defend his title in front of 91,000 adoring Chinese fans. What many people don’t know is that he knew beforehand that he wouldn’t be able to compete in the race because of an injured Achilles tendon. Even so, he stepped out onto the field out of respect for his supporters and his country. Liu’s story is one of perseverance and honor — it is a story that transcends cultural lines.
Why don’t we hear more about that incredible story in the Western press? Or about the breathtaking grandeur, elegance and coordination of the opening ceremonies? Instead, we see endless stories about the computer-generated fireworks, the little girl who was lip-syncing the Chinese national anthem, the stabbing of the father-in-law of the U.S. men’s volleyball coach, Darfur and so on.
Do these issues deserve attention? Sure. However, it seems like many newspapers and TV stations are doing everything that they possibly can to delegitimize the Games and the Chinese government. My message to these outlets? Grow up and respect a country that’s working its hardest to come into the 21st century. Beijing, I salute you.
I have been here for six days. The sun shines every day and I see blue sky. The Chinese people are proud and thrilled to welcome their visitors. Streets are shiny-clean, trees everywhere, people smile, are helpful, subways the finest in the world. The Olympic Green is a marvel and awe-inspiring. It is like being in a fairy tale in outer space. I never want to leave. Keep me here in this fairy tale. Beijing wins GOLD!