Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I'm Pulling for China

The Asian Games are going on in Doha, Qatar right now and I think what is happening there may ultimately have an impact on collegiate women's lightweight rowing in the United States. China, home of the world champion lightweight 2x and lightweight 4x, is hoping to display its rowing prowess in Doha and use the Games as one more stepping stone to glory in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

I hope China does well in the women's lightweight event in Beijing (after the US, of course) for the good of the category. Olympic lightweight rowing is constantly under attack and a good showing by China will help the IOC look favorably on lightweights. Why? A couple of reasons. First, the IOC likes sports that increase participation around the world and until recently China hasn't been a huge player in rowing. When lightweight rowing was added it was meant to increase participation by countries such as those in Asia with people of smaller stature (although Yao Ming may argue with that). A good showing in the lightweight 2x by China would be proof of concept.

Secondly, if a country like China, an economic and demographic powerhouse, decides that they have a competitive advantage in lightweight women's rowing, they can be a powerful positive influence on the IOC when the subject of lightweights is raised yet again. Perhaps most importantly in that calculus, they are not the United States or Western Europe and would therefore be more likely to receive a favorable reception from an international body.

Perhaps this is the trickle down theory of lightweight rowing, but increased prominence for lightweight women internationally will result in more USRowing attention for the category and subsequently more collegiate attention. The pie just gets bigger.

This week, grab a Tsingtao and Ganbei for China!

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Anonymous said...

I disagree. I think the easier the event is for the US, the happier the USOC will be to fund it, because it is another medal (and medals [and money] are all that matter to the USOC). If China and other countries consistantly do well and knock the US into lower finishing positions, the USOC is less likely to support LW rowing.

JW Burk said...

As I mentioned, of course I'm rooting for the US to win, but first things first. My point was that for the USOC to support an event, that event must first exist as an Olympic event. I believe that Chinese support for the LW2x would be more influential than (and considerably strengthen) US and European support to the IOC. If the event at least is contested in the Olympics, the USOC, and therefore USRowing, will not be able to completely ignore it. And only if it exists will trials be held. I agree with you that the better the US does the more support governing bodies will give, but I think the pressing need right now is to ensure that it stays on the Olympic program.