During the XXVII Olympics in Sydney, the Chinese team won only one gold in traditionally Western dominated sports such as athletics, track and field, and water events such as swimming, canoeing and sailing.
The Chinese State General Sports Bureau introduced shortly thereafter “Project 199”, aimed at getting more medals in those sports, which combined account for 119 (updated to 122 in Beijing) of the 302 gold medals available . During the following 2004 Athens Olympics, the Chinese team won four gold medals on sports covered by “Project 119”.
The government has also pumped money into other not-so-popular sports such as archery and shooting, in an effort to overtake the USA (Russia doesn’t seem to have much of a chance these days) as the country that will win the most Gold Medals in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
On a personal level, large cash bonuses, access to university and generous sponsorship deals await those athletes that make it to the podium.
Everyone is betting nowadays on who will win the win the most Gold Medals in Beijing.
The Wall Street Journal, for example, is predicting that the U.S. will likely continue its Olympic winning streak, both in golds (47 to 38 over second-place China) and total medals (110 to 93, with China second and Russia third on both counts).
PriceWaterhouseCoopers has concluded that China will win 88 medals overall, compared with 87 for the US, a close call that nonetheless would make Chinese very happy due to their belief on number 8 being a lucky number. It’s not a coincidence that these Games have started on the 8th day of the 8th month of the 8th year.
In any case, there’s no doubt that these Olympic Games are going to have an added spirit of competition not seen since the Cold War period, when the Soviet Union topped the medals board on eight occasions.
Darryl Seibel, spokesman for the US Olympic Committee, recently said that:
“We expect this to be one of the most competitive Olympics in recent history. That is down to a combination of China’s investment in its Olympic programme, Russia’s decision to do the same and the policy of some nations like Britain, which are targeting specific medals in sports that are important to them. China has to be considered the favorite. Every host nation receives a huge boost.”
Ant that’s the key to predict who will win the win the most Gold Medals in the 2008 Olympic Games, a variable that many forecasters seem to have failed to include in their formulas.
Remember Australia, Spain or Korea? Those countries received a lot more medals that they are used to when hosting the Games.
My prediction on who will win the win the most Gold Medals in Beijing? China, of course.
And all bookmakers seem to agree.