Dear everyone ever
In 2008 Michael Phelps took home EIGHT gold medals. We celebrated him as an American hero.
This week, a pretty seventeen year old American swimmer took home a gold for USA. It’s Olympic history! Somebody get that girl some theme music and a reality T.V show!
Also this week, a female sixteen year old swimmer from China won the gold and swam faster times than the men. WHAT! THIS IS AN OLYMPIC MIRACLE! AMAZ-
Sorry, what’s that? You’re suspicious of her? She gets no congratulations, no inspiring montage of her family watching at home, nothing? Nothing. Her win is taboo. What should be an inspiring story of a young girl making history at the Olympic Games is ruined by press and public scrutinizing her body, and the ethics of her home country.
So why, exactly, should we have reason to suspect foul play? The obvious answer is because men are stronger than women, and no woman should be able to compete on the same physical level as a dude in peak shape, right? Alright, here’s the deal. This is the Olympics. It’s true that generally, male athletes have more sheer physical strength than female athletes, but it isn’t so unreasonable to think that one woman on the planet could have the ability to outswim the boys. And if she existed, she’d probably be really famous and like, go to the Olympics, right?
Amazing shit happens at these games all the time. Gymnasts break their ankles sticking landings and still take home medals. Michael Phelps is human (probably) and took home eight golds in one game. There’s a whole list up of world records that have been broken in the 2012 games already. This quote, by entitled swimming coach dude John Leonard, is a great example of bigotry against women in sports:
“To swim three other splits at the rate that she did, which was quite ordinary for elite competition, and then unleash a historic anomaly, it is just not right. I have heard commentators saying ‘well she is 16, and at that age amazing things happen’. Well yes, but not that amazing, I am sorry.”
My favorite phrase here is “historic anomaly” as opposed to “historic achievement” which is what it was. He also makes a comment on how whenever people come out looking like “superwoman” they’ve been discovered to be doped up. I guess men probably don’t look like superwomen when they make Olympic history, huh?*
So on behalf of America, I’d like to make an apology to Ye Shiwen. You’re an extraordinary swimmer. You’re disadvantaged because you’re young, because you’re Chinese, and of course, because you’re a woman, but you swim like a BAMF and you deserve to be celebrated. Keep on keepin’ on, girl. Don’t let the haters get you down.
*I can only know as well as the next person whether she’s actually doped up or not. The point is, it shouldn’t have been the immediate conclusion. Maybe they’ll retest her or call her chromosomes into question or whatever, and decide she has some superhuman quality (drug induced or not) that disqualifies her from the games, but right now we shouldn’t be assuming anything so sinister of any Olympian.