Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The vilification of Ye Shiwen by the British media

I don't normally write about sports, but this has been irritating me since yesterday that I just had to put it down in writing. It's about the shocking treatment laid against 16 year old Chinese swimming sensation Ye Shiwen by the British media. Ye broke her personal best record at 400m medley event, winning gold as a result. She did it in such a way that American and British media started to raise an eyebrow or two - not quite the same reaction they gave to Michael Phelps when he first caught the eyes of mainstream sports journos, age 15.

Instead of congratulating her and recognising her talents, without thinking, insinuations started to appear in the media (both on air and in print) which appears to infer that Ye was doping, starting with BBC's Clare Balding and then sour grape of the year John Leonard, as if that was the only explanation to her incredible performance. Questions were asked and fingers were pointed at China's past doping offenses. Never mind that some British and American athletes has an illustrious history of getting caught doping as well, or that the rule of innocent before proven guilty should be adhered.

She's a female and she's Chinese, so she definitely must be guilty of something. How dare she swim faster than an American male! Not that she did, she just happened to be faster on the last leg than one man - of which four other men were quicker than her - something the British media failed to point out in their desire to cherry pick evidence against her. UK papers can't wait to queue up articles about how China 'manufacturer' their athletes. The whole thing reeks of rancid and the British media's treatment towards Ye is tantamount to bullying, almost on a xenophobic level.

This morning the chief of British Olympic Association has come out to defend Ye Shiwen, confirming that she has been tested and that she is clean. And yet nearly an hour after the news broke, the BBC has a massive picture of Ye Shiwen next to another equally massive headline "We will catch Games cheat", implying that sooner or later Ye would be caught cheating - this after confirmation that tests has cleared Ye!

As a BBC TV license payer, I expected their journalistic level to be slightly above tabloid-grade but alas during events like the Olympics, it is near impossible to get unbiased coverage. Nationalistic feelings always rise during world events like this and it is almost the single reason why my (already average) enthusiasm for the Olympics drops as the games progress. Now, instead of celebrating what a great athlete she is, the media is still attempting to undermine her win with more jingoism nonsense.

Ruta Meilutyte, age 15, who Clare Balding describes as her favourite none-British story of the games, improved her personal best by 4% in the past year and nobody called her a cheat - and rightly so. Rebecca Adlington herself swam the final 50m of a freestyle race clocking in 28.91 seconds, faster than Ryan Lochte did at this Olympics, and again nobody called her a cheat, again rightly so.

Michael Phelps and Michael Johnson broke records and were considered super humans. Not once did we doubt them and there were no reason to as long as they pass their drug tests. Ye passed hers, countless of times. We recognise athletes like Phelps and Johnson for their brilliance and talent, and we should do the same for Ye Shiwen.

Ye sounds like an incredible talented swimmer and I wish her all the best. If there is a single Olympic event I would like to attend it would be the 200m medley event where I can cheer her on amongst the droning British media (sadly this won't happen as the chances of getting a ticket is fuck-all - thanks for nothing Seb Coe). I hope she breaks more records and wins more gold medals at this and future Olympics.


Anonymous said...

Team GB cheated in cycling to win gold. Philips Hindes admitted he crashed on purpose . But British press claims he was 'mistranslated'.

Double standards.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how this Clare Balding has come to be viewed as a national hero. The lack of sportsmanship by her is utterly distasteful and makes me ashamed to be British.