Zeitenspiegel Reportagen

Operation Gold

Appeared in "Focus", Nr. 3/2007

Von Autor Tilman Wörtz

Die Olympischen Spiele 2008 in Peking sollten zum chinesischen Triumph werden. Die Welt soll die “Wiedergeburt einer Nation” bestaunen.

“Not a word!” the young man interrupts her. The hurdler Xiao Xiao Huang had wanted to say how she will be rewarded for winning an Olympic medal. But that is not public information, her handler from the track and field association explains.

It was very forthcoming of him to organize a potential medalist for this publicity session: She is 23 years old, pretty, with high cheekbones, her head with its stylish moptop hairdo thrown back when she laughs, which is often.

This morning she lunges back and forth next to the brand new track at the fieldhouse in Peking, bouncing from one gazelle-like leg to the other, loosening her muscles and tendons while coach Zhang explains, with the help of a sketch, how she can shave a few hundredths of a second off her time. “You have to change your rhythm between hurdles six and nine,” he says.

His analysis of her races against the world’s best hurdlers is based on videos provided by the technical service of the State Agency for Sport, located only a few steps away in a gray five-story cube. It decides which athletes will received what training. There are 3,600 enrolled for the summer games, three times as many as in 2004. The budget of China’s “Goldplan” is 20 billion euros. “Goldplan” is short for “Strategic Plan for the Winning of Olympic Medals 2008” …