Changing China

Giant on the move

Prima donna or diver under pressure?

February 26, 2008

China's Olympic diving gold medalist Guo Jingjing listens to a question during an interview in BeijingDouble Olympic champion diver Guo Jingjing was blasted by the Chinese media for snubbing the press last weekend.

Certainly, she was not on top form.

This was the full transcript of her encounter with the written media immediately after winning the gold medal in the synchronised 3 metre springboard , recorded and translated by my colleague Liu Zhen.

Q: Today the big crowds in this stadium are here to watch you dive. Did you feel any pressure in front of them?

A: No

Q: What happened to your nose?

A: Too dry, the climate.

Q: Please comment on your performance today.

A: Good. Feeling not bad.

Q: What are your expectations for the Olympics?

A: Try.

Britain's Daley dives during the ten-metre platform final at the Good Luck Beijing FINA Diving World Cup being held at the National Aquatics Centre in BeijingBy contrast, the 13-year-old British prodigy Tom Daley may have been a novice but he took to the media work like, well,  a diver to water.  

He was, of course, on a high after qualifying to become Britain’s youngest Olympian and might be sick off it all by the time the London Olympics come round in 2012.

Should athletes always be expected to talk to the media?

I may be a little biased, but my view is an emphatic yes. 

If they take the benefits of the high media profile through lucrative sponsorships and endorsements then they owe it to the public to speak to the press.

Guo was certainly not shy about cashing in on her two gold medals in Athens. In fact she was banned from the diving team for a while for undertaking too many “commercial activities”.  

Having a microphone shoved in your face and being asked to explain your failure to win a gold medal may not be much fun, but it goes with the territory.

Picture of Guo Jingjing by REUTERS/Claro Cortes and Tom Daley by REUTERS/David Gray.

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