Waffle waffle WAFFLE from the JOC!
The Japanese Olympic Commitee, who are facing the very real posibility that their athletes will return from Turin without a single medal, have been quick to offer reasons (I say reasons... perhaps bullshit excuses would be a more accurate term). Amongst the many, here are my favourite two:
- the snow in Turin is inferior in quality to that of Japan, so our athletes are at a disadvantage.
- there is no Japanese food available in the Olympic village, and this has hampered the performance of our athletes.
What a load of old tosh... the two reasons I think that Japan is medal-less:
- the vast majority of the athletes train in-house against eachother and lower ranked asian nations, so when they come to a major competition and face the North Americans and Europeans they can't compete.
- Japanese athletes aren't Winter Olympic medal contenders, despite the hype generated by the Japanese media machine. This is because there is a long history and strong sense of insularity in Japan and a deep distrust of being individualistic and different, which can help them in some things but is the kiss of death when trying to win gold medals from confident Americans and Europeans in sports designed to show off individual talents.
Getting 10 medals in Nagano was a radar blip. It was part home field advantage, part fortune, and the 2 they got in Salt Lake City should have been considered a damn good haul. The Japanese media should realise that being Japanese doesn't automatically entitle you to Olympic success. All those gold medals in Athens? Most of them were won at Judo, the sport that Japan is absolutely number one in the world at. The female marathon runner? If Paula Radcliffe had been on song she'd have left you on the horizon!
The trouble for Japanese athletes is that when they fail, Japan fails. The pressure and responsibility are enormous, and the way things are here, a bad performance means no sponsorship, which means you're dropped quicker than you can say "gan-ba-tte"...