They came, they saw, they conquered! That’s China for you.
Being the most populous country in the planet has its own perks, but disadvantages too. But they have turned their biggest worry — human resource — into their biggest asset.
Touted by many as the next superpower, the Chinese have often ‘encroached’ markets across the globe, displacing local flavour or at times, overpowering them. Be it toys, dresses, food or even sport, China is omnipresent. They are here, there and everywhere. One wonders how they can get so many things right! From a mere 32 medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Games to a whopping 100 at the Beijing Olympics, China’s rise has been progressive, yet freaky. So what is it that has clicked for them?
I would say, POWER!
The Chinese model, rather regime, has drawn a lot of flak most of which falls on deaf ears. Power helps them churn out athletes. Power gets them to invest millions in infrastructure, power enables them to turn normal kids into medal-winning machines. This is true in most sports, with badminton being the perfect example.
China sent shock waves across the world by winning both the Thomas and Uber Cup in 1986. They went on to bag all seven world titles the very next year, a first in the history of the sport. However, things didn’t go their way at the 1992 Barcelona Games and they failed to bag a single gold. But the Chinese never give up, do they? They trained, trained and trained and stamped their authority in the world of badminton by topping the gold charts at the London Olympics.
So, what next? Well, having succeeded beyond expectations in almost every sport, China’s next stop is tennis. For a country with a population in excess of 1.3 billion, having just three women players in the top 50, and three men in the top 500 in tennis is incomprehensible.
But we are talking about China, remember? Li Na got the ball rolling in 2011 by winning the French Open singles title, another first for her country. On Monday, Wu Di too made history at the Melbourne Park by becoming the first Chinese man to play a Grand Slam match.
The icing on the cake was when Zheng Jie upset home favourite Samantha Stosur on Wednesday, making it three Chinese women in the third round of the Australian Open.
As much as it is pleasing to see a new country making inroads into tennis, it also set other nations on red alert. It remains to be seen if tennis will retain its charm if China dominate the sport in future. Will the ‘tennis machines’ from China have the same effect as a certain Nadal, Federer or Djokovic? Only time will tell.
For now, just beware, for the Chinese have arrived!