Zur Olympiade 2008 will China auch als sportliche Supermacht dastehen. Noch hat der Sportwettkampf in Athen noch gar nicht begonnen, da wird schon über die Spiele vier Jahre später im Reich der Mitte viel geschrieben: With little fanfare, China is emerging as an Olympic heavyweight that could soon challenge the United States and Russia for the biggest harvest of gold medals and national pride. While acknowledging the gap that remains between some of its own top-level athletes and the world's best, China has set its sights on the 2008 Beijing Games to make a statement about its growing athletic excellence before millions of hometown fans. "When an athlete wins a medal, they hoist their flag and sing the national anthem, which is a defining moment of national pride," said Ren Hai, a professor at Beijing Sports University. "And what better place for it to happen than before your own people?" The makeup of its contingent headed for Athens shows how much Team China is banking on the future. With 407 athletes, it is the nation's largest Olympic roster ever and will compete in every sport except equestrian and baseball. It is also China's youngest team, as officials hold back some veteran gold-medal winners to make room for promising newcomers who might be stars in 2008.


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