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Beijing Olympic Legacy

Beijing Olympic Games have passed for almost four years. China’s capital has benefited significantly from the halo in aspects of improved infrastructure and blossoming culture diversity. But critics say that the heritage has not been matched by the environment – the grey skies still exist, and China’s post-Games economic growth has slowed.

Bird Nest Stadium in Post Olympic era

In order to contemplate what legacy the Olympics have left behind, I asked four experts about how the Olympic legacy has changed Beijing – from its culture, economy to the environment.

Unexpected Economic Disappointment

Tourism missed an expected boom

In retrospect, the last 11 Olympics host countries have all suffered from slow economic growth after the Games. Beijing is not lucky enough to escape the ”Curse of the Rings“. The worldwide economic bust has hit post-Olympics China as well.

 

No example can be more illustrative than the tourism sector. Zhang Xiaoxue is a senior manager from Beijing Association of Travel Services. She told me that the financial crisis has hit Beijing’s overseas tourism hard.

“After the Games, travel agencies and hotels anticipated a surge in Olympic-related visitors. But we were disappointed when the influx of travellers never reached previous anticipation because of the gloomy economic situation.”

According to Zhang, for the recent three years, even some of the city’s glamorous hotels have stumped up half price offer to attract travellers. “In low season for travellers, such as summer, hotels on average have had just less than 10 percent occupancy.”

Environmental Achievement and Vision

Li Jiao is the Director of Beijing-based organisation Greenpeace China campaigning for environment protection. To her, the greatest heritage of the Olympics is two-fold.

“Firstly, the strict anti-pollution regulations brought blue sky and fresh air back; secondly, under the push for a ‘Green’ Olympics, the awareness of people and the government about the importance of environment has been heightened.”

Beijing’s effort has won recognition worldwide. According to the recent report released by the British organization Clickgreen, the air pollution control put in place in Beijing during the 2008 Olympic Games has halved the lifetime risk of lung cancer for locals from certain inhaled pollutants.

However, Li is now concerned that the improvement was just like a flurry of excitement, given that post-Olympics pollution has deteriorated, “Some indicators have come down; on some days the air still smells acrid and buildings just a few hundred metres away can appear smudged in smog.”

She emphasizes the real environmental legacy lies in years beyond 2008. “‘Green Olympics’ is not merely for today, but also for tomorrow. Only by taking long-term, persistent efforts can the Green Olympics actually have a concrete impact.”

 Furthermore, Successful environmental measures in Beijing need to be extended to other developing cities across China.

“Every civilian needs to recognise his indispensible role in taking environmental action. Only by concerted cooperation and extensive participation can we truly ‘green’ our homeland. “

Cultural and psychological impact

the Games have raised the nation's confidence

The event has set the stage for a more diverse and tolerant cultural atmosphere in the capital. Beijing resident and artist Zhu Xiaoxue comments as follow,

”Now I have greater opportunities to attend various high-quality exhibitions, and art works of the domestic artists are more tolerated , which would help boost artistic growth in every field, the diversity which should have been rooted in a Socialistic society is now building on in China. “

Albertina Malik from America is a lecturer from Beijing Foreign Language University, who has lived in Beijing for eight years. She says that the Games, as an opening-up party to the world, have changed the mindset of the state.

“The whole nation got so hilarious when China topped the gold medal tally, considering this nation’s 200-year-long history of humiliation and inferiority. It is more like an implied reassurance that the Chinese can be as good as others, and can be more self-assured on international stage.”

Conclusion

The Olympic Games have left Beijing positive legacy in terms of a more diverse cultural aura, a more confident image on international stage, etc. On the other hand, post-Olympic pollution degradation and the economic downturn have also tarnished the heritage to some extent.

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Never Underestimate the Heart of a Champion

In the 2011 Asian Games Women’s Basketball Final, China versus South Korea. It was close calls with the score 78-78, 10 seconds to go in the 4th period.

On the crunch time, a Chinese player crossed over a defender with a fake, fast broke into the paint zone, spin moved from another defender, jump shot! The ball falls in! What a great Buzzer beater! The girl was hugged by her hilarious teammates! China outscored South Korea and won the championship!

Zhang

This is one of Zhang Wei’s best performances – and there’s much to admire among her 20+ points per game in the payoff of WCBA, 25 double-doubles during 70 international matches– hinges on the hard and boring daily training.

Zhang Wei, 25, member of the Chinese National Women’s Basketball Team, is also playing shooting guard for Liaoning Hengye club in the professional women’s basketball league – China’s Women Basketball Association (WCBA). As a scorer, she is recognised as one of the most accurate 3-point and free throw shooters in the country.

A chatterbox

There’s nothing Zhang Wei likes more than to talk. “I talk endlessly,” she says during a Skype interview with me that comfortably proves the point. Ma Zengyu, her teammate in both the national team and the club, has remarked,” the only reason I knew when we’d started training is because she stopped talking.”

Chatterbox is too feeble a word to describe the vibrancy of Zhang when she ‘s talking about the things that interest her. Charity is one of her primary passions. “The thing is, if you have been given the privileges we have – if you have this many perks – surely you can help out,” Zhang Wei, explaining her long-term backing for the Hope Project, a charity organization to help children nationwide in desperate need.

Formative years

Born in a small town in northeast China in 1986, Zhang Wei and her twin sister soon found themselves taller than their peers, thanks to the DNA inherited from their parents who both were former basketball players. Zhang recalls, “we were thrust into a basketball training school at 10 and began to learn basic skills that initially helped us blend in with our peers but soon we come to stand out.”

Those skills came in handy at the provincial youth team that followed, where her teammates were “overwhelmingly talented,” she says. “I wouldn’t have survived in that environment if I were lazy and slack.” she solidified her current tough style and three-point shot in the “devil training” during that time.

“We treated every training session as NBA finals.” She leant back and began to laugh. Her then-teammate Hu Nan told me, “She once bled her head just to grab a 50 to 50 ball with me. That period was definitely hard time, even now I can’t even imagine that we survived back then.”

 “It’s amazing how all the hard work pays off when we won championships.” she says unrepentantly. But when I hear people talking about a successful athlete, I wonder why they completely ignore the sweat and blood they have shed away from the spotlight. We pierced our hands and learned from injuries.All we did . That’s what we aspired to.”

League performance

 At 17, Zhang Wei was picked out of the youth team and played professionally for Liaoning Hengye Club, the giant in China’s women basketball league. During her rookie season she mostly came off the bench behind the veteran nationalist Chen Miao, “Initially, I played limited minutes, but as the season continued, I began to see some more playing time.” By the end of the season, she averaged 15.5 minutes a game and began to appear in the starting line-up.

Her second season marked Zhang Wei’s emergence as a premiere guard in the league. Now she has proved that she is the marquee player for her club. She leads her team swept the league for the last two seasons and won two consecutive championships from 2008 to 2010.

As a nationalist

Zhang Wei made her debut in Chinese National team when she was only 19, in the game against Chinese Taipei. She represented the Chinese team in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games as the youngest player among the squad. Zhang Wei says, “It was one of the most breathtaking moment that I have ever onstage. I feel extremely proud when I heard my supporters yelling my name at the Olympic arena.”

Zhang (right) and her twin sister in the Beijing Olympic Games

 

Defiant player

Her fortunes would soon change when Li Xiaoyong became coach for the Liaoning Hengye Club in 2007. Zhang Wei was closely scrutinized and criticized during the 2007-2008 season when disagreement about tactics between Zhang Wei and Li Xiaoyong began to surface. Their heated feud had led to a loss streak for the club in WCBA.

Zhang Wei laughs when reminded of the incident. “It was the most lethal, deadly spell I’ve never had,” she says,  “I was suspended from playing and was forced on the bench for almost a month. Later, Li was hacked and everything went back to normal. I just couldn’t say yes to people I don’t agree with, even if he is my boss.“

 “I think the great joy for her is to enjoy her success on basketball court, really,” says Zhangyu, her twin sister. “She’s so passionate about it. She yearns for victory all the time.” And never underestimate the heart of a champion.

 

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The match between Arsenal and Newcastle can draw the public attention because of the timing. Because members from both sides have been topped tabloid newspapers during this week.

The Margie’s striker Andy Carrol has recently confessed that he has a crush on the ex-WAG Cheryl Cole. While the Arsenal manager Wenger has been revealed that he has an affair with a secret mistress, a hip-hopping star. I have to say that this gossip is absolutely not convincing because I don’t think the Professor would relegate himself to date a shallow girl who is a fame-hungry WAG wannabe.

Go back to the match itself. I am excited that Jack Wilshere would finally make his Premier League return after three-match suspension. The yongster was given marching orders in the 2-1 victory against Birmingham for his last-minute “mis-timed” challenge towards Blues striker Zigic. The starlet has made a big impression in his playing matches for the gunner this season and become a difinitely senior figue for Wenger’s squad. The lively performance has earned him a lucrative long-term contract. Obviously the north Londoners illustratted a high valuation of his potential and want the confirm his services. He is talented and only 18 and every match to him it is learning. He told the Skynews yesterday that he had learned a self-confessed lesson that although he must be aggressive as a midfielder, he should never go over the line on the pitch.

Also best news, our skipper Cest Febregas came through fitness test and is set for a shock return for this afternoon’s game. With Cesc in the squard, no matter which team we are against, the odds of winning is substantially increased. What’s more, the long-injured strike Robin Van Persie has reportedly come through a full training session on Friday. And the boss will involve him in this match so he might play for a few minutes from the substitutes’ bench. Long time no see RVP! I am looking forward to your shining moment!

Cesc Fabregas, Robin Van Persie and Jack Wilshere are my favortite gunners. They are all technically talented and have footballer’s brain. Hopefully they will provide a phenomenal game for Arsenal fans!

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Weekend comes again and on Saturday Arsenal will host West ham in the Premier League. But I still feel excited about their 3-0 win at Manchester City last Sunday.

Undoubtedly, the win against a team challenging the title will put the Arsenal on to believe themselves, just as Gunners boss Wenger commentedafter the match: ” It was really encouraging to see a lot of our players come through today.” The ruthless thrashing broke Wenger’s embarassing record against top teams, for this season the gunners have already been beaten by Chealsea and West Brom.

The Premier League is so competitive that the likes of Tottenham and Aston Villa all have the capacity to take points from the Big Four ( Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City) So you should be very careful in every match in competing for the title.

I’ve noticed that in this season Arsenal strenthened defence in the midfield area. They’ve become more tougher in the midfield. BBC sport pundit Lee Dixon ascribes it mostly to the emergence of Jack Wilshere into the first team. Admittedly the England teenager has an excellent performance, albeit he was sent off for the unpleasant,stupid tackle at the last minute which suspended him from this match.

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Of course we cannot forget Samir Nasri, who scored the first goal and broke the status quo. He’s got a really smart footballing brain and played as a shadow for Cesc Fabregas, taking much pressure of the skipper. When the two technically gifted players are both on the pitch, add in Wilshere, and the defencive value of Alexander Song, the midfiled squad seems perfect.

Without Lukasz Fabianski’s gorgeous saves, I’m not convinced Arsenal would get 3 points at East Land. The goal keeper for Arsenal used to be a weekly talking point. But now the Pole is in quite a good form and has increased his confidence from the clean sheet against the East Land. Now he has put pressure on fellow goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, if Fabianski kept his magic save like in this match, it will stop rumors that Wenger will buy a goalkeeper at the January Transfer Window.

This afternoon the London derby will be on show. Hope gunners will not let me down.

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