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Chinese Athletes Embody Beijing’s Broader Aspirations

After a century of national aspirations, China's ascent into an international power has influenced its athletes' training to win gold medals during the Olympics. A professor and former athlete offers insight into how Chinese athletes have prepared for the Summer Games.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Now, how China cultivates its athletes for the Olympic Games. It comes from Susan Brownell, an author of many books about Chinese sports and a professor of anthropology at the University of Missouri at St. Louis.

    She was a nationally ranked track-and-field athlete in the United States in the 1980s, and she ran track at Beijing University while studying there. She's currently a Fulbright scholar at the Beijing Sport University.

    She spoke with Ray Suarez yesterday from Beijing.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Professor Brownell, now that we're about a week into the competition, would you say that China is well on its way to achieving its stated goals for these Olympics?

  • SUSAN BROWNELL, Author:

    Yes. I would say that China is well on its way to achieving the goals it set for itself for this Olympic Games. The first goal was to hold a high-quality and unique Olympic Games, and I would say that, so far, these games have certainly been unique and at least high quality technologically.

    And whether they're considered to be successful in the end will depend on a lot of things. I think the Chinese are now better prepared to accept the fact that there will be criticisms of human rights and the political system, and they're just hoping that everything else will go so well that, in the end, that will outweigh the political considerations.

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